Indie Focus: Overruled!

Overruled! is an upcoming brawler from Dlala Studios, releasing on PC under Team 17’s publishing wing. To sum it up, it’s an inherently multiplayer game, and essentially Smash Bros. mixed with WarioWare, achieved brilliantly through the use of collectible cards which can be deployed as you play.

The first and perhaps most prominent thing these cards do is change the game mode. One minute, you might be playing a straight-up free-for-all mode, where you kill other players to increase your streak and your points, but when someone activates a card with the tap of a button (cycling with the triggers), it’ll change it to King of the Hill, for example. This can be used quite tactically: if someone has an advantage in the current game mode, you can change it and take the upper hand.

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All cards can be played instantly and you’re often changing between game modes at an alarming rate. It’s all part of the fun, and brings a lot of variety despite there only being a handful of available modes in this build, as it heads to a Steam Early Access release next week. Other modes include Smash Grab – where you have to collect as many coins as you can in a set time – or race, where you run from checkpoint to checkpoint as they spawn around the map, always trying to get there first ahead of your opponents.

Other cards bring new elements to the table and mix up the overall gameplay, from the point scoring, to respawn time, or even altering the way the game works – one of them switching on teams, turning it from a free-for-all into a 2v2 match. These can be used on the fly to get ahead quickly or bring other players down.

There’s a good reason why the game’s called Overruled! too. Providing you’ve got the right card, you can immediately play it after someone has played a card of their own to cancel it out. So, if you’re doing pretty well and don’t want the game mode to change, or if you don’t think teams are a good idea, then you’re able to overrule the card and get your own way. Beware though, as people are also able to veto any card you may use.

It’s a really solid core concept for a game, and it’s executed very well. While it takes a few rounds to work out exactly what’s going on, you’ll soon be switching between cards in no time, changing modes at the perfect moment or activating a points boost card when you’re doing particularly well in a round. It’s sublimely implemented and well thought out, elevating the game from being a quick Smash Bros. clone to something else entirely.

overruled

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the brawling itself. There are a variety of characters, each of which seem to work similarly or exactly the same, so it’s only really an aesthetic choice. While these are charming and include everything from a censored clown to a literal melonhead, the combat itself has a long way to go before it all comes together.

There’s melee and ranged attacks, and while the latter works fine, firing off a rocket in a horizontal direction, the melee combat feels a bit off. It’s still a fairly early point in development, but often the hand-to-hand attacks don’t feel like they’re hitting and the way that you’re able to charge them confuses things further. Characters are a bit slow-moving too, and the jumps often feel quite floaty.

Still, there’s a really good basis for a game here. It might seem simple at first, but the cards system makes it really deep and every single match different, packed with variety and plenty of mayhem. Let’s just hope this variety is repeated through the combat and character customisation when the game reaches a full release, otherwise it may become stale a bit too quickly.

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