Overclocked: A History of Violence




Genre:   Psychological Thriller

Type:   3rd Person Point & Click

Developer:   House of Tales

Publisher:  Lighthouse Interactive

Released:   Q2 2008

Platform:  PC

Minimum Requirements:  See end of review


Additional Screenshots






by Inferno


As gamers, we are sometimes drawn to adventures that contain intricate puzzles, or we anticipate upcoming adventures because of their eye-catching graphics or beloved familiar characters from various series. Equally engaging are the type of adventures whose chief fascination lies in the stories that they tell -- how the plot elements are woven together, revealed and, most importantly, how completely they pull the gamer into the game’s universe. Overclocked is one such adventure. House of Tales (the German-based developers who brought us Mystery of the Druids and The Moment of Silence) has come up with this new offering for the gaming community. It is ambitious, exciting and yes, overclocked -- just as its name suggests -- in its look, feel and attitude.


Overclocked is a psychological thriller in which the gamer assumes the role of more than one character, piecing together the mystery of what happened to five young adults during a bleak and weatherworn November in Manhattan. The plot is carefully interlaced between these five unfortunate souls and an ex-military psychiatrist, David McNamara, who is overseeing their care. At one time or another, the gamer will take on the persona of each of these six main characters. Will McNamara be successful in delving into their recent pasts? Can he help them mend the fragments of their shattered minds? Will he be able to assist them without sacrificing his sanity, giving up his own mind as forfeit?

The adventure is divided into various chapters -- each with its own cryptic title -- which span the length of six days. The chapter titles reflect the mood and disposition of McNamara as he relates to both the storylines of the five patients and his own ghosts of the past. How do they differ? How are they similar? Could the common thread which connects all six characters be McNamara himself? The gamer (as McNamara) will rebuild the “memories” of the five patients and how their stories relate to one another. The techniques used include hypnosis and “reverse memory tracking.” As the troubled young doctor delves deeper and deeper into their psyches, the six plots begin to unfold. And as the adventure drives inexorably to its conclusion, the underlying truth will become all too terrifyingly clear.


This is a third person point and click affair. The inventory is always visible during game play. When an item is clicked on from the inventory, the gamer has the ability to choose to either “examine” or “use” the object in question. Within the inventory there is an “electronic” inventory -- the PDA. Here one stores various phone numbers. It is also possible to use the PDA to make phone calls, record personal memos, receive emails and record each session with the five patients under McNamara’s care. This is pivotal item for the good doctor and is used constantly throughout the game.

Traversing the environments within the game is done with a mouse click. Transparent arrows provide the directional movement from area to area within a given screen; some of these can be difficult to see. However, the exit icons from one screen to another are very clearly placed at either the side or bottom of the various locations.

The puzzles and enigmas during the game are mostly inventory based, although there are few number puzzles. None are difficult as long as you follow the storyline and listen carefully to what is being said. However, it is the “Triple P” or plot progression puzzles involving the PDA which will allow the gamer to discover just who these six characters truly are and the common thread to which they all desperately cling.

While playing as David McNamara or the five patients, the gamer cannot “die,” and there are no dead ends that could bring the game to an abrupt conclusion. But this doesn’t mean that there is no violence to be witnessed. There are a number of explicitly violent moments within Overclocked, and if you are of the squeamish sort where blood or death is concerned … you have been warned. 

“My Eyes See”

The look and feel of the adventure is one of darkness and oppression, mirroring the broken minds of the five young patients. The constant use of storm, rain and night scenes accentuates the apprehensive and uneasy atmosphere, as does the stark bleakness of the hospital. The background artwork utilizes a dark though richly hued palette, combined with animated aspects of weather, such as constant falling rain, storm clouds and moving waters. Couple this with characters created by motion capture within the cut scenes and we have indeed a captivatingly riveting production.

The haunting and melancholy underscore rounds out this ambiance. It heightens our senses and adds to our sinister forebodings as we watch the story unfold. The clever use of split-screen also does much to break the barrier of the fourth wall. It keeps the gamer on guard for what may yet happen or for what may have happened that now must be relived and pieced together.

The voice talent is clean and at times poignant – a description that applies to each character, from Mr. McNamara down to the bartender. These actors should all be commended on their work, as they have created a strong sense of believability; they make it easy to care and to fear for the characters that they portray.


As Overclocked launches, the gamer is presented with a small basic menu in which various parameters can be selected. These are: Resume Game, Start New Game, Settings (which allow the gamer to configure Language, Video and Audio parameters), Overclocked Home Page, and House of Tales Forum.

The opening splash screens as well as cut scenes and/or various blocks of dialogue may be skipped by pressing the ESC key twice. Saving a game or loading another is accomplished in much the same way, as long as the gamer is not within a dialogue tree at the time. Once the dialogue has completed, using the ESC key twice will bring up the main menu for either loading, saving or quitting the program. While there is no “auto-save” function, one still may save at any time either by creating a new save or by overwriting a previous saved game. Game saves are stored in the “My Documents” folder.

There was one technical aspect of Overclocked which I found to be quite bizarre. Here we have two DVDs. DVD1 will load the game folder onto the hard drive (at over 5GBs) and DVD2 must be in the drive to play the game. Not an odd thing at first take; many games are set up this way. Yet, given the recommended specifications of the parameters of the game and its massive size, it seems odd to me that no option is given to load the 2GBs of cut scene video into the game folder. This would have smoothed the production, eliminating the unexpectedly long lag times that precede each cut scene (while one waits for the DVD ROM to spin up to speed).

Because of the abrupt and often frustrating “black screen of waiting for what is still to come,” my own immersion and concentration during game play were seriously affected. However, I suffered through these episodes for only the first two chapters of the game, as I soon realized that all that needed to be done was to move the resource.200 file into the game folder. Once this was accomplished, I found that there were no more lag times between active game play and cut scenes, thus allowing a more seamless transition between the two. Particularly in a psychological thriller like this one, smooth transitions are so important to game immersion and the willing suspension of disbelief that it’s perplexing that the gamer has to manually move a file to accomplish what should have been the work of the installation program.

“The Soul of the Game”

Overclocked is an ambitious endeavor, offering dozens of highly detailed locations, many and various characters to interact with and a goodly amount of interesting and expertly executed dialogue. I found the script very tight and well written, for both the main plot as well as the good doctor’s subplot. There are minimal “holes” as the main story progresses, although I did feel that the subplot was somewhat predictable.

The game’s projected course of play is approximately twenty hours. For me it was nearer to twenty-five and took me the better part of a week to accomplish. The adventure itself I found to be very linear, with logical clues coming one after the other within the dialogue of various characters or from McNamara’s own inner monologues. The puzzles are especially organic to the adventure and include inventory and number sequence challenges, as well as in-depth “PDA recording” analysis. I found the last type to be extremely entertaining and innovative, effectively putting me into the position of the troubled and careworn psychiatrist … examining, probing, and compiling the necessary data to formulate the patients’ experiences and the horrific realization of whom they may represent.

So, would I recommend this game to my fellow players? The answer is yes I would, as long as the gamer welcomes a thought-provoking experience that doesn’t shy away from controversy, and understands the cut scene lag time and how to properly deal with it.

Grade: B+

Minimum Requirements:

OS: Windows 2000/ XP / Vista

Processor: 1.3 GHz Processor

Video Card: DirectX 9 compliant video card with Shader Model 1.1

Free Hard Disk Space: 1.5 GB

RAM: 256MB – Windows 2000/XP

RAM: 512MB – Windows Vista

Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compliant


Keyboard & Mouse

Recommended Requirements:

OS: Windows 2000/ XP / Vista

Processor: 2 GHz Processor

Video Card: DirectX 9 compliant video card with Shader Model 2.0

Free Hard Disk Space: 5.5 GB

RAM: 512MB – Windows 2000/XP

RAM: 1024MB – Windows Vista

Sound Card: DirectX 9 Compliant


Keyboard & Mouse

Played on:

OS: Microsoft Windows XP Home SP 2

CPU: Pentium D 950 3.4GHz 800MHz


Video: BFG nVidia Geforce 7600GT OC 256MB 128bit

Sound: SoundBlaster Audigy


SONY DRU 820A DVD+RW/+R/RAM/cd 8.5GB 16x8x8x16x6x6x5x Dual Layer/Double Layer

Monitor: Northgate 20' Flat Panel Monitor

DirectX Version: 9.0c

May 2008

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