I’ve been an avid fan of old-school first-person shooters for most of my life. Turbo Overkill, published by genre stalwarts Apogee Entertainment and developed by some famous Doom modders, pushes the envelope more than most of these games do. Between its fast, gory action and bright, neon levels ripe for destruction, the game is entering Early Access in a blaze of glory. But the question stands: is Turbo Overkill worth it in Early Access?
Turbo Overkill tells the story of a city run amok by people corrupted by an evil AI known as Syn. You play as Johnny Turbo, a cyborg with a chainsaw leg, who aims to kill everything he sees. The game lets you choose between one of several difficulties. I chose normal at first, as there’s never any telling how obnoxiously hard these Early Access boomer shooters are going to be. And, boy, was that the wrong choice. On normal difficulty, Turbo Overkill often reminds me of Doom Eternal on hard, but with less wiggle room. I later changed the difficulty to easy by restarting a level, and noticed that the enemies did slightly less damage. The game was still extremely hard. Great.
Turbo Overkill is your standard level-based affair. Your goal is to go through each of the game’s levels to find a switch at the end. Along the way, you’ll have enemies to blast and objectives to accomplish. Johnny finds an assortment of guns, which can be upgraded with powerful secondary abilities. Enemies often die in an explosion of gore and coins, and you can use the money to buy weapon upgrades, new enhancements, and ammo if you find yourself running low. So far, I’ve found a standard assortment of weapons, including a regular shotgun, a double shotgun, dual machine guns, and a chaingun.
Through the air
Combat and movement are fantastic in Turbo Overkill. The weapons are ridiculous and punchy (although they’re honestly kind of weak, especially compared to how strong the chainsaw slide is), the enemies are tough, and you can slide around with your chainsaw leg out to instantly gib weaker foes. It’s an exhilarating game, and the level design is just as good. The levels are varied, vertical, and colorful, with plenty of opportunities for platforming. Jump pads propel you into the air and you can wallrun on certain surfaces. Combined with a double jump and two air dashes, Johnny Turbo is one mobile FPS hero. To be clear, this is quite the impressive game.
But it’s also so hard that I found myself hitting some walls. The enemies do so much damage that they can decimate Johnny in a second, even on easy. There are enemies with blades on their arms that can cut you down in just a couple of hits, and enemy fire is actually pretty hard to dodge. The game also loves to spawn the blade-arm enemies behind you. If you haven’t memorized that they show up at that point, they’ll kill you almost immediately after they spawn regardless of if you’ve had time to notice them. Things aren’t helped by the checkpoint system, either. Checkpoints can be kind of far from each other and you can’t quicksave, so I constantly find myself having to redo lengthy sections over and over. It’s easily one of the worst things about the game.
I love Turbo Overkill mechanically, visually, and design-wise, but I wish it was a bit more lenient than “Doom Eternal challenge rift on hard”-level while on the normal difficulty. If you like a stiff shooter challenge, I can’t think of a modern FPS other than Forgive Me Father that is quite as tough as this, so you’ll almost certainly get your money’s worth here. Regardless, this is a very impressive game that I personally think needs some serious difficulty balance, although I’m sure the Git-Guddites will be right at home.