This ingeniously breaks the game into several layers. On one level, you’re McNamara, and by wandering around the asylum and using the tools at hand you can push the patients into talking to you. You can also get a certain amount of help from the (suspiciously) unhelpful staff and the detective in charge of the case. Having prompted a recollection, you then find yourself in the shoes of that character, effectively retreading the path they took during the period before they lost their memory. Solving puzzles in the flashback sequences then gives McNamara information he needs to prompt another sequence, either with that patient or with another. And so it goes.
Here’s where things get reasonably clever. McNamara has a PDA, which he uses to record his patient interviews. Having recorded an interview with one patient, he can then play it back to another. This becomes important, because it’s soon apparent that all five patients were together in some kind of abandoned army depot. Only by using one patient’s memories to trigger another’s can McNamara get to grips with what happened there. Meanwhile, our shrink protagonist has his own enigmas for us to deal with. Why does his wife want a divorce? What happened to him in the army? What is the accident that nobody will talk about? What’s really going on at the asylum?
Sounds good? Well, it should be, but the reality is rather different. Sadly, at least some of my negativity towards the finished product comes down to poor production values. I know we shouldn’t judge adventure games by the same visual standards we might judge, say, Bioshock or Gears of War but – golly – Overclocked looks rough. The cut-scenes would have just about looked acceptable four years ago, but not now, the environments are dull and the in-game character models are primitive by today’s benchmarks. Worst of all for a game that relies heavily on close-ups and dialogue to tell its story, the faces are rigid and inexpressive. Combine eyes that don’t move with poor facial modelling and some rather bland voicework, and the scenes rarely have the impact that they should. In fact, certain sequences are more likely to provoke titters than the shocked gasps that they should. Imagine a Hitchcock thriller remade with Thunderbirds puppets and you might get some idea of what I mean.