Pressure Overdrive’s story is about a young lad waking up to find his lake has been completely drained of all its water! To his dismay, he discovers a large advertisement propped up outside his home with a so-called evil enterpriser, Count Soap, who is showing off his brand new Uber-Spa.
Without hesitation, our young hero jumps into his steam-powered buggy and chases down his water-stealing thief!
So what can you do in Pressure Overdrive, what makes it different from other shooters? Well, your primary objective here is to reach the end of the course and survive the onslaught of enemies’ bombardment of shots, mines, and acid trails.
You’re not flying a space ship though, you’re driving a vehicle, e.g. a steam-powered buggy. You can control your vehicle with the left analogue stick which lets you move left to right, go in reverse if you get into trouble. You can also shoot directly in front of your vehicle as well either side of your buggy with the right analogue stick.
You will need to continually move forward to hit each check-point and reach the end of the level. You can also use your special abilities (if they’re equipped) on either L and R bumpers or triggers.
Each ability and main weapon consumes steam. Your steam gauge is next to your green health bar at the top left-hand corner of the screen and will deplete every time you use any specials or fire your weapon. This can be recharged by not firing for a few seconds.
By completing levels, you’ll earn gold that you can use to buy new parts for your buggy, increasing its hull health, steam pressure, and damage output, so you can face boss battles and survive enemy fire.
Before you take on the campaign’s 30 levels, you get to tinker with your steam-powered buggy in the garage menu. In the beginning, your buggy is somewhat inadequate, looks a little worse for wear. Completing levels and killing enemies will net you gold coins to spend in your own personal garage.
At the garage, you can select: weapons, front, back, underneath, and roof parts that you can attach to your buggy. You can even upgrade each part 3 times to increase its effectiveness. Plus, each part may add some positives to your buggy’s stats, as well as some negative stats.
In Pressure Overdrive, your buggy needs steam to run properly. Your steam gauge is located on the top left-hand side, next to your health gauge.
Every time you fire your weapon, your gauge will deplete. If your gauge hits its lowest point, your buggy will start to slow down and won’t be able to fire your weapon until you give your steam gauge time to replenish which can take few seconds.
Each part that you find in the garage takes up a certain amount of steam pressure to use. However, if you buy parts that increase your steam pressure, you can use more abilities without worrying about running out of steam.
Each of the 30 levels takes you through a series of check-points. As you race to the finish line, you’re not alone as you will have to dodge incoming projectiles and avoid different types of karts, tanks, and other vehicles that want to stop you from reaching the finish line.
I use the term “racing” lightly though, as you’re not racing in the traditional sense. You’re simply moving forward and hitting check-points which will reward you money and health pick-ups as you move from one to another. Health pick-ups are a huge help because if you’re not equipped with a lot of health, you’ll die pretty quickly on normal or hard difficulties.
Keep shooting to destroy enemies quickly and gain gold and the odd health pick-up. There is actually no need to stop shooting as the screen fills with bullets and enemies. Yes, you’ll have to keep your eye on your steam gauge, but if you need a few seconds to replenish your steam gauge, maybe you should try ramming other vehicles off the road. Upgrading your buggy can help you withstand the punishment and adding additional parts can help you to ram or heal.
Right way, wrong way!
Let me set the scene…
I had created my own personal buggy with its own unique parts from the garage. I specialise in having a lot of steam pressure, so I could use my two unique powers.
But it came at cost once I reached the first boss battle. I realised that I didn’t have enough health to stay alive long enough through each phase of the first boss encounter.
I decided to re-play levels to earn some gold and buy more hull health. However, I soon realised that you don’t receive any gold if you’ve already played a level. The only way I could get money was to sell all the parts that I bought this far so I could buy more health. I decided to buy a new, stronger weapon. It was annoying as it felt there was only one way to approach this first boss.
My buggy had to be tuned in the right way; otherwise, I’d have no way of defeating him. Obviously, on my second playthrough, I was more prepared but people playing for the first time will hit a brick wall if they haven’t equipped the right parts.
Where’s the variety?!
I’ll be honest, I grew tired of the campaign pretty quickly. It’s just the same thing over and over again which is not only repetitive, but also quite boring.
There’s just not enough to spice up gameplay; constantly moving forward and shooting became dull. Levels were just drawn out far too long with only hints of excitement, like new power-ups that shook up the gameplay for a few seconds while they were still active.
But thankfully, Pressure Overdrive has an ace up its sleeve! Its Endless mode is not only fun to play, but it is a lot better than its main campaign.
You’re constantly driving forward again, but this time, when you hit a check-point, you enter a garage and use a slot-machine to pick one random part for your buggy. There are 4 slots, with one part to attach on each slot: front, back, underneath, roof, and of course, weapons.
Some parts may be levelled up and mixing, and matching is the order of the day. Not only will you get to try everything out there, but you’ll also meet more enemy variants and new locations a lot quicker in endless mode, making this my go-to mode.
This is definitely my favourite mode in Pressure Overdrive as it’s a lot more exciting to play! One life to live and an open road with a mix of different parts to use. It just feels good, and I was really addicted to it!
After your run, you can also upload your score to online leaderboards which is a nice touch. There’s also a free-play mode which lets you pick any levels you’ve beaten. The game also supports local co-op which was great fun with friends and is a nice inclusion.
Music in Pressure Overdrive is upbeat and lends itself well to the shoot-up-em nature of the title. Gun sounds are pretty punchy but I had to turn down the in-game volume as hearing a shotgun for long periods of time started to grate on me. I do like jazz tunes during menus and levels though.
Visuals & Performance
Visuals in Pressure Overdrive are pretty nice, especially during the high-octane driving and shooting sections.
Buggy customisation screen looks good too with each part transforming your vehicle in front of your very eyes.
There are also little intros during the main sections in the campaign. These are rather amusing to watch. I found that overall, visuals are decent enough during play.
Performance has been excellent, and I’ve not experienced any issues to speak of during my playthrough.
The game also supports screenshots and video capture.
The Switch’s icon is actually really good, depicting the main character in his steam-powered buggy, blowing up the enemy, with the main Pressure Overdrive logo at the centre. It looks bright and is a great example of an excellent Switch icon.
For £10.99, you’re getting a 30-level campaign, free-play mode, and the awesome endless mode. There’s a 2 player local co-op which is the icing on the cake, and there are 40 parts to customise your very own buggy with. Add in the online leaderboards, and you are golden.
What’s here is a decent amount of content on offer. If you love shooters, then you’ll probably get a kick out of what’s on offer here!
Endless mode is the best mode
Customize your buggy with 40 parts
Campaign levels drag on far too long