Overboard! opens to Veronica Villensey and her husband, Malcolm, on a ship, looking out over the ocean. She exclaims there are dolphins in the distance and her husband eagerly looks for them and then, splash! She pushes him overboard. So, now that all remains is to ask, can you get away with murder? It’s time to find out!
Overboard! is an interactive fiction game released by Inkle. I previously played Pendragon, and the narrative style is similar, though Pendragon has a higher risk of death as you play through the grid-style game. In Overboard!, the biggest threat is time. You have eight hours until the ship lands and with it your freedom. If you can convince everyone you’re innocent, that is.
Each run has a set of goals to achieve. These will help you get off the ship and onto freedom rather than prison. Each move gives you a cross-section of the ship and shows where all the passengers are at that time. Click on a location, and you’ll find out how long it’ll take you to get there. Being efficient with time is crucial to getting all the information you need, making allies, and bribing those who aren’t so easily swayed.
Once the hours have trickled away, a meeting is called to discuss the disappearance of Malcolm Villensey and determine what happened. This is when your allies come in handy. Will they support you or throw you under the bus? Now is your time to shine and talk yourself out of murder. If you didn’t make it this time, that’s ok. You can try again. Subsequent runs of the game highlight your previous choices in green, so you can decide whether to try the same answer again or go a different route.
Art and sound design
Overboard has a gorgeous 2D art style. The game is based in 1935, which is shown nicely in the fashion and decoration of the characters and the ship. It’s a nice nod to the past, at least for the wealthy aboard this ship.
The soundtrack is excellent at setting the scene and the time period, with smooth jazz following you throughout the ship. It is also occasionally a little cheeky. Only the intro has voice acting, which is disappointing as Amelia Tyler is excellent as Veronica, and it would have been great to have more of her. The sound effects are also amazing and help to build the atmosphere of the game. For a game made in only a few months, the sound design is put together remarkably well.
The first time I played, a sly grin spread across my face as Veronica narrated deceiving her husband and pushing him overboard. I am not usually one for being a villain in games (I can’t even play Untitled Goose Game), but something about this set-up made me keen to try and get away with murder.
So, did I succeed? I did not. At least not yet.