Turbo Overkill Review – (PC)

If you’re old enough, you know the name Apogee Software. The publisher and developer made their names in the late ’80s, creating franchises such as Duke NukemWolfenstein, and my personal favorite, Monster Bash.

Eventually, the company became 3D Realms, and Apogee faded into history. That was until last year. Apogee announced its rebranding and comeback with former founder Scott Miller joining the company in publishing duties. And now we have the early access to game one of Apogee’s return, Turbo Overkill. 

The first game from Trigger Happy Interactive, Turbo Overkill, promises to be a return to the type of shooters players grew up loving in the Apogee early days. Yes, that means we got another boomer shooter on our hands!

It’s wild to think the stalwarts of boomer shooters are returning to publishing to bring us a new one. But how does Overkill stack up to the legacy Apogee has brought us in the past? Well. It’s a solid start! 

Let’s start with what makes a “boomer shooter”

Turbo Overkill gameplay

Upon booting up the game, it became apparent quickly that Trigger Happy and Apogee wanted to get back to the past boomer shooter glory with Turbo Overkill. Now, some of you might be wondering what that means. What qualifies as a “boomer shooter” per se? The genre became popular in the late ’80s and early ’90s by being the first type of first-person shooter game to hit the market. Games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, and Duke Nukem are considered by many to be the forefronts of the genre. 

Boomer Shooters focus heavily on a fast pace. There’s no regenerating health or hiding in cover to heal up. Health is done on a meter that you must find pickups to recover. You also find that guns rarely reload in most games in the genre. This is usually to help keep up the intensity in firefights with enemies.

All three games above focused on using an insane amount of weapons at the players’ disposal. Some of them are over-the-top crazy (hello BFG from Doom) but feel satisfying to use to destroy a whole room of enemies. The stories were light and not a core focus of the game itself. What was the focus was being insanely violent and finding ways to piss off parents back in the day. Apogee published a lot of these at the time. So it makes sense they go back to that genre for their publishing return. 

Turbo Overkill has a story to tell

The story of Turbo Overkill focuses on half-metal, half-human, half-crazy Johnny Turbo! A man augmented with hidden arm rockets and a chainsaw extending from his lower leg. He returns to his hometown of Paradise and finds its entire population possessed by Syn. A rogue AI that has an army of augmented minions. Desperate for enough money to outrun his past mistakes, Johnny takes on the impossible job of destroying Syn and its new army. 

To be honest, the story is kind of inconsequential. That’s not a bad thing! The cyberpunk world itself is beautiful in execution. But the story is just a background thought as gameplay goes on. But other boomer shooters have pulled this off well, like Doom 2016 and its sequel. So it’s not a deal-breaker by any stretch of the imagination. But there are some story concepts I do want to see played out more. It’s hinted by the villains very heavily that Johnny could lose all of his humanity to the machine. That’s always a fun concept to play within cyberpunk stories. That thread could get fleshed out more in future installments. 

Rip and te-I mean slide?

Turbo Overkill hero Johnny Turbo
Our hero Johnny Turbo

But enough about the minor elements. Turbo Overkill is here to deliver the outrageous and violent action the genre is known for! So does it pull it off? Gameplay-wise, it sure does! But it also manages to have some good ideas to make itself stand out from the competition.

The main element is the chainsaw slide. A single button press allows the player to slide across the area with a deadly slide that can take out enemies in a flash. You can even make it more powerful if you manage to build up speed from sliding down a ramp. It’s a simple but more ingenious mechanic than I thought at first. Some levels utilize the mechanic to your advantage in hectic fights. And it’s a blast to mow down dozens of enemies at a time in a gory cloud with just one swift slide. 

As for the weapons to shoot with, there are some great ideas. Although I think some balancing is necessary for future updates. Weapons you find have a primary fire and secondary firing mode you unlock by upgrading. All fine and dandy! The game gives advantages to memorizing the precedence of each gun and their firing mechanics.

But after a while, I grew to love the first pistol you get in the game and both firing types it offered. It became clear to me to be the most effective to use combined with the chainsaw slide. This is thanks to its targeting secondary fire option that can take out multiple enemies in one hit through a targeting system. The shotguns are good at massive damage but tend to get you killed when bum-rushed by dozens of enemies. There are some balancing adjustments to be made to the weapons. But this might just be a me problem. And I fully accept that.

Traverse around Paradise

Turbo Overkill sector 4

Turbo Overkill’s traversal and movement mechanics feel top-notch for a game in the genre. The movement and gun-play all feel smooth in 60 FPS. But it’s the movement upgrades given later that make the game start to stand out. When you acquire the wall run boots later, the traversal in the game starts to shine brightly. It becomes a blast to dash around like a crazed-out superhero mowing down enemies like Doom Eternal pulled off so well. It’s, frankly, an element that is becoming paramount to me in this genre to have to up the entertainment factor.

The game could use some more variety in level design. It’s nice to see this bustling cyberpunk city with so much ambiance that I want to just have levels stay there. Let’s stay away from tunnels, hallways, and subways. I think that’s an easy thing to ask for.

The game could use some more variety in level design. It’s nice to see this bustling cyberpunk city with so much ambiance that I want to just have levels stay there. Let’s stay away from tunnels, hallways, and subways. I think that’s an easy thing to ask for.

Performance and control variety is key

For a 1.0 edition, Trigger Happy has polished this baby up in performance. It runs shockingly well! In my seven-hour playthrough, I ran into no substantial bugs or game crashes. The only noticeable glitch I caught wind of was some framerate drops and freezes. But the game runs 60 FPS in full 4K resolution. Those are issues that can be kinked out in future updates. It’s incredibly refreshing to see a game in this good shape at first release. That element deserves praise itself.

I should give a caveat to this criticism because it’s specific. But it’s for players like me, and I know I am not alone. This game runs exceptionally control-wise for mouse and keyboard. If that’s your control preference for PC, you can skim to the next section. For controller players, we got some minuscule issues.

There are a lot of control options for Overkill. You can map out buttons on your mouse and keyboard at will. You also can on a controller! The problem is there are too many commands to map to each button. And some buttons won’t even register at all. On my PS5 controller, the input for R3 registered as the same button as R2. No matter what I did, this could not change. 

I’m hoping more controller options are offered in the future. I can tell that the game will be insanely fun with the correct controller options and mapping. That will become a massive factor with the console releases slated for later this year. 

So about the difficulty

I should bring up one more critical point to Turbo Overkill. For those who like their games easy or relaxing, you might want to think twice. It’s fast-paced and will kick your butt to the curb if you’re not careful. That’s not to say it’s as hard as something like Elden Ring, but it is a game that requires full attention at all times. Like most boomer shooters, fast pace and precision are critical to survival. Especially in some insane boss fights the game will throw at you. I know that style of a shooter is not for everyone. So I thought it was paramount to at least make buyers aware. 

That said, it never gets frustrating to the point of quitting. And getting to the end is well worth it. The final boss is a challenging but insanely fun fight that caught me off guard with how hectic it was. It rivals final boss fights in boomer shooters like Duke Nukem 3D and Doom Eternal.

Final thoughts

Turbo Overkill gun battles

Turbo Overkill is an exciting new entry to the boomer shooter genre. It’s an unabashed action-packed cyberpunk love letter to the shooters of Apogee’s past. It doesn’t do anything you haven’t seen before, but it does enough to stand out from others in the genre. It has some work to do in balancing, tweaking, and adding more accessibility options. But it has plenty of time to do so before the console releases of the game drop later this year. If you want a fun and manic return to the days of Doom and WolfensteinTurbo Overkill will be right up your alley. I’m counting the days for the official console release!

Turbo Overkill is available now on Steam and GOG.

Alex Lehew

28-year-old gamer, writer, content creator, weeb, and Sega fan! I'm old enough to remember when you played Sonic The Hedgehog 2 on a CRT, or how weird Revelations: Persona is. Constantly begging Atlus to make Snowboard Kids 3.
Back to top button