Overruled! brings a chaotic, four-player brawling experience to the PlayStation4, nestling itself among a wealth of jump-in, jump-out titles that are all competing for domination of your social gatherings. Although displaying a surprising balance of skill and luck based gameplay, Overruled! seems to be missing in key areas, causing it to fall rather short of its full potential.
In a nutshell, this is a cel-shaded 2D brawler playing host to four-player multiplayer experiences, both online and off. Your goal is to pick one of nine different characters and use them to complete the set objective to earn points, earn more points than your foes and you’re gold. The twist comes from being able to pick what the objective actually is. Overruled! presents players with what they’ve called “Change-’em-ups”, these are cards which alter the objective of play mid flow. You’re able to hold up to three different cards, choosing to play whichever one best suits your needs at that particular moment.
In essence, this means you can shift from playing a game of Deathmatch to suddenly playing King of the Hill. It’s a clever mechanic that will be enthralling for newbies and evolve into a strong tactical weapon for veterans. Alongside the card system you’re also able to hinder your opponents while they try to earn points in the more conventional manners; swift punches to the face, a kick in the privates or a good old bullet to the brain.
The energetic gameplay works fluidly and quite brilliantly with a squad of three other mates. The feeling of betrayal when someone drops a game-altering card, shifting the lead in his or her favor, is reminiscent of the devastation caused by the +4 Uno card and the subsequently terminated friendships. It’s a friendly reminder that local multiplayer is downright enjoyable and it’s heartwarming to see developers still pushing games out that support this depressingly dwindling mode of play.
Unfortunately, Overruled! is a slightly different beast when taken onto the old interweb – at least for the moment. It’s hard to criticize a game for having a small online population shortly after launch so a few days grace was given to the online section to improve. It didn’t. The matchmaking is desolate, taking an age to connect to a populated game. The ghost town of matchmaking is only amplified by the lack of computer-controlled competitors; additional bots to fill the wait between online games would really help pass the time. Of course, there’s a strong likelihood that this will improve over time, but as it stands, the online experience is skeletal and requires more inhabitants to even come close to the state of play you can experience locally.
There is the offering of a single-player experience if you’ve grown bored of waiting for some real-life foes, however. Overruled! presents lone wolves with 54 challenge missions, which sounds like a hearty amount, but actually collects into just under three hours or so of gameplay. The challenges can feel dull and uninspiring, often throwing very similar, regurgitated tasks at you and results in an disappointing and ever-dwindling sense of achievement.
Developers, Dlala Studios even made the bizarre choice of hiring YouTube sensations as their voice talent for the limited dialogue sections and should honestly be kicking themselves for it. Whether it’s the poor writing or poor delivery is hard to pinpoint, but something about the repetitive one-liners is soul destroying, you’re more likely to pick your character based on how annoying the voice talent is, rather than which one looks the coolest.
Overruled! has a few decent ideas in hand, the game-changing card system is especially quaint and brings much needed elements of luck to an easily mastered game. The local experience is phenomenal and proves to be close to couch warfare at its best, but simply falls flat on its face everywhere else. The single-player challenges are short-lived and forgettable while the barren online community makes matchmaking arduous. It’s not got the charm or wit to carry it past these pitfalls either and even with a densely populated online community, it’s hard to see Overruled! making any kind of waves for very long in such a densely packed genre.
Overruled! review copy provided by publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.