What a delight Overboard! has been. A last-minute announcement from Inkle (Heaven’s Vault), this character-driven adventure plucks out all those primal desires we all have of throwing our wealthy spouse overboard so we can claim the life insurance.
Recollective of a Hitchcock tale, but with the flavour of an Agatha Christie novel, you play newly widowed Veronica Villensey. She’s just murdered her husband, Malcolm, by pushing him overboard to his doom. However, he’ll be accompanied in the afterlife with his friends, the dolphins.
The couple are on board a ship from England, sailing to New York to make a new life for themselves in the 1930s. For Veronica to start a new life, she has to take a life (or more), so that she can cash in on the life insurance and remove the shackles of her dull existence.
Overboard! Review – PC via Steam
Overboard! is a whodunit, only you already know the answer: it was you. To add some tension, other than committing murder, you have just over seven hours until the ship arrives in port to signal your freedom. In that time, you have to coerce, intimidate, or even kill others on board to set up your escape.
Veronica is an absolute bitch, yet she’s such a joy to play. After the brief sequence of Malcolm hitting the deck, well waves, you have creative freedom on what to do on the ship. From the crime scene to the bridge, restaurant, and the passengers quarters, you have the freedom to go anywhere, but the clock is ticking.
The ship’s arrival is essentially your countdown until being discovered and thrown in jail – what you do with your time is entirely up to you, but bear in mind that every time you move to a location, time will pass, and it’s possible to miss events.
Ask to meet a victim – sorry – fellow passenger, on the deck or another in your cabin, and if you’re not there in time, there may be consequences, or perhaps you’ll have to repeat another playthrough. Fortunately, you can also pre-empt the pattern by throwing yourself overboard.
Time Is Of The Essence
A playthrough of Overboard! is relatively quick, but the number of times you’ll replay soon add up – this game is just so much fun with the various paths, dialogue and outcomes, you too might blitz this in one sitting to rinse the fun out of it in one go.
Because of these repeated scenes, there’s the option to fast-forward dialogue and stick with the same answers. This can be automated too. While this is a decent feature to have and speed up the process, in most instances, I’d carefully consider my actions to see if it’d unlock a new path.
Within a few hours, the results screen confirmed something like 15 playthroughs and, even at this stage, Overboard! never gets stale or overfamiliar as there are so many variations.
In some respects, it’s like Groundhog Day, reliving the same experience each time to eventually perfect it and be in the right place at the right time. But even then, there are so many objectives to fulfil that even when you do unlock the ‘best’ ending, you find yourself playing on loop.
Know Thy Neighbour
Your goal is to get away with murder. On the first playthrough, you’ll explore the ship, talk to guests and eventually meet your fate. From here, a new objective will appear, such as getting a passenger on your side or perhaps framing them for the murder(s).
The ship is yours to explore, but naturally, personal quarters are locked. That shouldn’t stop you from obtaining access; it just depends on how far you’re willing to go for that access… Veronica is cruel, heartless, and I absolutely love her.
Overboard! is character-driven; find out more about your fellow passengers and persuade them to your way of thinking, or have them removed. That can include conspiring with other characters, blackmail or the good old fashioned way. What makes this more interesting is each character has a hidden past that you can keep chipping away at each time until you ‘get it right’.
Overboard! Review Summary
An underrepresented style of play that is devilishly good – especially if you get away with murder, Overboard! is lots of fun. Considering the relatively short runs, the replay value is high, with plenty of objectives, character revelations and flexibility to experiment.