Review: I Am Overburdened

This week I took a quick look at I Am Overburdened, a roguelike RPG that came out last week for £3.99 on the Steam store.

Now this is going to be a short review because I Am Overburdened is, well, a bit dinky.

It plays similar to other roguelikes, you move a character around on a grid based system like this and to interact with gold, monsters, chests and loot you just walk into the square they’re on. Combat is pretty basic: your coffee meter controls whether you attack first or not, meatiness is paired up against whatever bits of metal you have on you to determine damage, you have a health bar determined by how many veggies you’ve eaten and the amount of lucky items like four leafed clovers seems to affect random item chance and so on. The items needed to increase these are scattered around the various levels.

So far so typical, and that is unfortunately I Am Overburdened’s biggest problem. It simply doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself from its peers. The main gimmick is your inventory size, which allows you to carry up to 20 different items on specific parts of your body. Its an idea with potential that just isn’t explored. There are no significant drawbacks to filling your inventory and the very nature of having so much room for items cuts back on one of the key elements that I think makes roguelikes interesting; having to weigh up your options on the fly and deal with whatever upgrades the game sees fit to dole out at you.

It’s been really rare in my time with Overburdened that I actually had to choose which items to take, even though they all have fixed slots in the inventory. Items aren’t exactly common and the game ramps up in difficulty long before you’ve filled every slot. There is little to no room for exploring equipment builds here because by the time you’re in a position to it’s likely already too late to figure out what’s helpful. There are some interesting pick ups and most have an effect that might change your general strategy but there are far too few that do. For the most part the game is simply a puzzle in figuring out how to get the most pick ups without losing too much health.

The difficulty is completely random. It’s not clear if the placement of enemies and items is too but there are occassionally setups that prompt a little thought in execution. I’ve had runs where I wasn’t able to make it through the first few levels, simply for not having seen any health or useful stat upgrates, and runs where I absolutely demolished every creature in my path before hitting a brick wall mid run. The scaling of the enemies can be quite a jump and your only way of figuring out their stats is by killing enough of them. I’ve come to think that success in I Am Overburdened might be completely up to random chance.

It’s a shame. There’s just not enough obvious depth here to warrant a recommendation. It’s mechanically and visually competant but struggles to justify itself in a sea of similar roguelikes. If this were a mobile title I might look at it differently but for something that’s competing with games like Dungeons of Dredmor, Crypt of the Necrodancer or even Rogue itself it’s completely unremarkable.