Overboard! review – ingenious cruise-ship thriller casts you as the villain

iOS, PC, Switch; Inkle
You are the murderous starlet forced to concoct your alibi in Inkle’s fresh and beautifully detailed paperback crime novel of a game

Aboard an ocean liner travelling from Britain to New York in the late 1930s, a famous actor murders her husband by throwing him from the upper deck into the raging sea. If this were a piece of golden age detective fiction, the fate of the drowned man would form the basis of an intriguing whodunnit, but in the hands of narrative game specialist Inkle – a team that skilfully turned Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days into a luscious interactive adventure – it was never going to be so straightforward.

Instead, Overboard! is told from the killer’s perspective, the player taking on the role of faded screen idol Veronica Villensey who launches her spouse Malcolm into the Atlantic in order to claim his life insurance. From this point on, your job is to create an alibi for Veronica as well as perhaps implicating another passenger in Malcolm’s watery demise. This is achieved by touring the ship and chatting to other characters – some of whom can be useful allies, while others may have secrets to hide that can be exploited to divert attention or even set up ulterior suspects. The game has an internal clock that ticks towards your arrival in New York, so any plan you formulate has to be tidily and swiftly enacted, relying on certain characters being in the right place at the right time, and important objects such as keys, sleeping pills and damning documents being discovered and utilised.

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