Overcrowd - Preview

Ever since the mid 90's and games such as Theme Park, Theme Hospital and The Settlers on the Amiga 1200 management and tycoon type games have been a favourite of mine.  After a hiatus of ten years or so, this genre has been making a comeback over the last 2 or 3 years.  This week we are having a super early look at upcoming tube management sim Overcrowd. 

This will be the first game by UK indie developer Square Play Games.  The team comprises of boyfriend/girlfriend duo Alastair and Sarah, with Alastair doing the coding whilst Sarah does the artwork.  The game was originally conceived as a mobile game following a number of years using the London Underground to commute.  Whilst dealing with the difficulties of using the tube network, Alastair thought that managing the flow through the stations could make a fun game, and 3 years ago Square Play Games was born and development started on the game.  During the development the project has developed and grown to become a fully featured PC game, rather than mobile time waster.

A simple 2 platform, multi-level station
As with many of these games recently, they have decided to go with a pixel art style and isometric view.  This gives a nostalgia trip for me whenever I look at these games, taking me back to this games I enjoyed in the 90's and early 00's and the devs aren't pretending these games haven't influenced their project.  The team do want to bring their own spin to the game though.  Overcrowd will not only be about management, but also some spatial puzzle solving and you will have direct control over your staff, recruiting a crack team to deal with any issue which may arise in your station, whilst also making sure their needs are met.  Your commuters also need looking after to keep them happy, for example they won't be impressed if your network is overrun with rats, too hot or too cold.

Each new level you start will have a procedurally generated map.  These will be of differing sizes and shapes with obstacles (such as rocks or water) and some track blueprints placed.  This is where the spatial puzzling will come into play as you need to work out how to best utilise your space the meet the goals of the level.  As with the London Underground network, your stations will not all be built on the level.  You will be able to take your station down by up to 4 levels, allowing you to have multiple platforms and lines to keep those commuters flowing. 

The overground concourse with ticket machines and coffee cart
As seems to be the way things go these days, there will be a tech/unlock tree utilising a special currency (think Kudosh in Two Point Hospital, the various skill points in Graveyard Keeper, or the science points and hearts in Parkasaurus).  As with those examples, this is not a micro-transaction but is earned through normal gameplay.  The more commuters you move through your station, the more City Hall will reward you with bonds which you cnlan use to unlock new items or hire new staff.

The game is due to hit Early Access 'soon' but the devs aren't giving up a specific window yet.  This is totally understandable as only having one coder on the game thing may change and be influenced by a number of factors.  It has recently been listed on Steam and you can add it to your wishlist now.  You can also join the official Discord where the developer is interacting with the small, but growing, community regularly.  All of the information in this article has come from press kits and dev blogs so is, of course, subject to change.  Needless to say, this game has piqued my interest and I will be keeping a close eye on this one coming available to get hands on in the, hopefully not too distant, future.

Short animation showing object placement and 'thermo cam'
As always, thanks for stopping by, any comments and feedback are always welcome and remember you can get in touchon any of the social channels to the right.

Overcrowd - Preview Overcrowd - Preview Reviewed by Parcival on October 10, 2018 Rating: 5

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