Overcrowd Departs Early Access And Reaches Destination Full Release - Review

A multi floor station in Overcrowd

Overcrowd is a game that I've covered a couple of times in the past.  First as a preview a while before it came out, and then about 6 months ago to see how early access was going.  Now with the game reaching it's 1.0 release it's time to have a quick look and see what has changed since the last visit to the station.

Developed by Squareplay Games, a solo developer and his artist girlfriend, Overcrowd puts you in control of the undergroud rail (subway) network of the fictional Lubdon Town, not at all based on any real world locations.  Created using Game Maker Studio 2 and with all of the artwork drawn specifically for the game and a 15 month early access cycle, this marks the culmination of 5 years of hard work for the developer. 

In the 6 months since we last checked the game, there have been a lot of changes, ranging from small QoL and bug fixes, to new features, assets and an expansion to the Network Sandbox (formerly campaign) mode of the game.  Whilst I was never really aware of any bugs with the game, a number of things have been implemented which make great improvements to the game.  The main updates have brought Lifts, toilets, prestige items, the ability to rename stations and staff and new commerce options, with some further new additions for the 1.0 release.  Rather than covering the core gameplay I'm going to look more at what has changed with 1.0 compared with 6 months ago. 

Overcrowd Network Sandbox Screen
The new Network Sandbox level map
The campaign mode no longer exists within the game, in that it has been renamed and looks completely different.  Now called Network Sandbox, this mode see you progress through a network of 15 stations, rather than the previous 5.  You can now also set custom game parameters, such as infinite cash, unlocked research etc. although using the default settings gives you a traditional campaign style game.  The procedural generation also remains allowing for limitless combinations of stations and you can share your game seed with friends.

The game still works from Zone 5 towards Zone 1, however you will now have more than one station for each zone and you will need to unlock the various stations along each line.  It should be noted that tech is gated by zone, so completing an entire research tier in one zone 5 station and playing another zone 5 station will not give you access to new tech, however unlocked tech is carried between stations.  The game is also not designed to allow you to get 5 stars on your first play of a station meaning you will need to return after unlocking some higher tier techs, a bit like in Two Point Hospital. 

Overcrowd Lift Configuration
Configuring a lift to ensure access to all parts of the station
Lifts were a much requested and welcome addition to the game.  These allow you to move higher numbers of commuters over greater distances more efficiently.  They are also the only way that the new wheelchair user commuters can move between floors within your station.  On the note of the wheelchair users, the footbridge has had a slight revamp to now be a ramp rather than stairs.  The lifts work a similar way as stairs, escalators and turnstiles except that rather than just setting the destinations you need to configure the boarding and exit options for each floor.

A wide range of items have been added throughout the early access cycle.  These allow you to build better, more efficient stations, but also design the station to look how you want with a variety of benches, bins and decorations available.  Many of these new items have other benefits, such as raising happiness as prestige items, such as the busker and fish tank, providing a larger area of effect, such as level 2 and 3 bins and lighting, or meeting other needs, such as toilets or more varied commerce options.

Overcrowd Toilets and Prestige Items
Toilets and a few of the new prestige items
Other new items to help with the running of your station have also been added.  There are now options for more efficient power generation, garbage compacters and even uniform lockers so that you can assign staff a role.  Staff behaviour was a big issue for many people at the initial early access launch and this was heard by the developer.  A job grid was implemented to the game which allows you to assign which tools a member of staff will use, and a priority for each tool making the staff a lot more intelligent and less micromanagement required.

There have been a lot of other changes, many of them very subtle.  The heatmaps have been expanded to include litter, overcrowding, refuse, lighting, seating and commerce in addition to the thermal imaging, feedback messages of issues are clearer and commuters will now leave dirty footprints in your station requiring mopping.  One of my favourite little additions is that commuters will now arrive using umbrellas during the rain.  A few seconds after entering the station they will collapse the umbrella and leave a small puddle.  I mentioned about new wheelchair user commuters.  These are only a tiny example of the many new commuters added for the full release.  Over 40 new commuter models are being added including the wheelchair users, visually impaired commuters, punks and even a cowboy.  

Overcrowd Commuters with Umbrellas
Commuters arriving with brollies, just make sure you have a mop to hand to clean up the puddles
The things I have covered here are just highlights of the many many improvements and fixes made throughout the early access cycle.  For a game coded by a single developer it is highly accomplished and polished.  The dedication that has been put into the game is clear, with patches being pushed regularly, and extremely quickly in response to feedback of bugs, even multiple patches in a single day a lot of the time.  At £14.99 the game is, in my opinion, a must have for your library if you enjoy your management games. 

Overcrowd Staff Lockers
The new staff lockers which allow you to give your staff different appearances based on their jobs
Medic and Janitor in Overcrowd
Staff wearing medic and jannitor unifroms. Wearing the correct uniform will gice a 20% boost to certain skills
Overcrowd Refuse Heatmap
The new refuse heatmap showing problem areas for litter in your station
Overcrowd Gloomy Heatmap
The new gloomy heatmap whoing areas where more lighting is required
Overcrowd new commerce options
A selection of the shops and billboards added to the game during early access
A criminal gets tasered in Overcrowd
A criminal being caught by a member of staff equipped with a Taser
Overcrowd wheelchair and visually impaired commuters
Wheelchair user and visually impaired commuter types arrive at the station
You can grab Overcrowd on Steam as a full release now!

Disclaimer: Whilst I have been fortunate enough to assist the developer with some community moderation and beta testing, this review is entirely based on my own thoughts and opinions and I have received no reward for this review.
Overcrowd Departs Early Access And Reaches Destination Full Release - Review Overcrowd Departs Early Access And Reaches Destination Full Release - Review Reviewed by Parcival on October 06, 2020 Rating: 5

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