Usually, I’d assume that if a chainsaw was near someone’s leg, that’d be a problem. But, when the chainsaw is embedded into your own leg and you can flick it out every time you do a butt slide, well then, it’s much more of a problem for your enemies’ ankles. This is exactly what you’re in for with Turbo Overkill, an upcoming shooter which took Apex Legends’ excellent sliding mechanics and asked, “What if we added deadly spinning blades?” I’ve had a chat with game director Sam Prebble and even played a little bit myself, and I think you’ll like the answer.
Turbo Overkill is what I imagine you’d get if Doom were set in a cyberpunk city, which isn’t surprising considering that Prebble spent 15 years working on the Doom 2 mod Total Chaos. During my time with the game, I ripped and tore my way through a stunning maze of neon high rises called Paradise. Instead of demons, you’re beasting your way through a cyber city full of criminals with techy augmentations that a rogue AI has taken control of. Your character’s name is somehow cheesier than the Doom Slayer too: you play as Johnny Turbo, and it’s your job to deal with all these n’ere dowells.
Right, okay, introductions are out of the way. Now I can talk about chainsaw legs.
“When I was working on the prototype, I was playing a lot of Apex Legends,” Prebble tells me. “One of the features I loved was the movement, momentum and sliding. I knew I had to get a sliding feature in, and I asked myself, ‘What would happen if you could slide into monsters to kill them?’ From there I figured if you slide into monsters you need a reason for them to die, so I basically stuck a chainsaw on the leg.”
I have a lot of love for Apex’s movement, so this felt pleasingly familiar. Much like in Respawn’s battle royale, if you’re zooming down a sloped surface you’ll go faster. But with the chainsaw, the faster you go, the more damage you inflict. This leads to an awful lot of fights where you’re trying to slide jump as much as possible to slice up your foes. To be honest, you want to be moving around constantly in combat anyway. Turbo Overkill is tough, and full of criminals like Leapers (who’re like blue frogmen). I met my end multiple times to these guys, as they jump about quickly leaving puddles of dangerous electricity on the ground. This is sometimes a game of “the floor is lava” as much as it is a first-person shooter.
You’ll have plenty of firepower to help you through too. Each weapon has two different firing modes: one that I suppose you could consider its “normal” mode, and another that’s just unnecessarily over the top, but like, in a really good way.
So, there’s a minigun that’s also a flamethrower, a shotgun that can fire a huge electrical pulse, a sniper rifle that lets you teleport inside enemies, and loads more. My favourites were the dual-wielded magnums. Their primary fire is pretty standard pistoling, as you’d expect, but their alternate allows you to shoot smart bullets that charge up and lock onto your enemies. Admittedly, the best part about this is that you do a delightful spinning animation with your second gun while you’re at it. Stylish, classy and murderous.
“I’ve always believed that weapons should be multi-purpose, whether that’s a secondary fire, or a way you can use it some other way in the game,” Prebble says. “Like with Quake, you had rocket jumping. But also, with a lot of shooters I’ve played, you start off with early weapons that you don’t use that much later in the game. I wanted to have weapons be more useful throughout the entirety of the game.”
Importantly, the guns play nicely off of your chainsaw leggy too.
“One trick I found, just by chance, is that you can shoot a rocket behind you, do a 180 degree turn, activate your chainsaw leg, and use the propulsion from the explosion to get a speed boost on your chainsaw to do a lot more damage,” he adds.
A slightly more traditional way of getting around in Turbo Overkill is the wallrunning and grappling hooks, inspired by Titanfall and Doom. These are great additions for a world that has a lot of verticality. Prebble tells me his game is “about as wide as it is tall”, and while demoing a level for me he showed this off by throwing himself from a skyscraper way down into a neon arena below. I spent a lot of time myself exploring all the streets and alleyways. While it can feel maze-like at times, you’re always able to hop off a bridge or bounce your way up to a path that looks more promising (or into a crowd of enemies that need a sawing).
It’s exactly what I want a cyberpunk city to feel like, to be honest. From flying cars and bright holographic adverts, to dingy side streets full of ominous screens and techy viruses bleeding through walls, the game is oozes very good dystopian vibes. It wasn’t always going to be this way, but hey, when you have yourself a fantastic chainsaw leg, you need a world for it to fit into.
“When I started Turbo it was going to be very hellish themed, something more like the original Quake,” Prebble tells me. “But when I started going down the path of having a chainsaw for a leg, I went down the grindhouse road. For me, it’s all about getting lost in a world which is sort of familiar, but is also somehow completely different.”
Turbo Overkill is set to release “soon”, so hopefully you won’t have to wait too long to get your legs on a chainsaw. Find it on Steam if you fancy taking a look.