Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up is a tactical management sim set on the London Underground that blends base-building, pausable real-time strategy, and spatial puzzling.
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Release Date:
Spring 2019

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Early Access Game

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Note: This Early Access game is not complete and may or may not change further. If you are not excited to play this game in its current state, then you should wait to see if the game progresses further in development. Learn more

What the developers have to say:

Why Early Access?

“Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up is a hybrid of several genres with many interacting elements. That means it’s going to take time to balance every system so that they work perfectly with each other. The scope of the game means that we will be adding new objects, layering new systems of behaviour, and evolving the economy throughout early access. We would like to use our time in Early Access to hear as much feedback as we can. This will help us decide what features to add, alter or even remove to make the Overcrowd the best experience possible.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“We expect Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up will be in Early Access for most of 2019 at the very least. But with our experience of the development so far there's a reasonable chance that it will be longer (or possibly shorter). The final spec of the game before it's finished is by no means set in stone, and will be heavily influenced by your feedback during the Early Access process.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“Currently the game focuses on a campaign mode, with a series of increasingly difficult stations to build and manage. Procedural generation of map terrain, building, commuter behaviour and staff management are all in place and ready to be iterated on/added to.

We'll add new features that will enable the player the maniplulate their station enviroment with greater precision as well as introduce more commuter types and events, more objects, and more underlying systems. Together this will contribute to a greater range and depth of experience.

We will laso aim to include a sandbox mode so players can attempt to build and run stations as grand as their imaginations (and commuters) will allow, but as with everything, this will depend on your feedback.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“All of the core features are in place and we're undergoing alpha testing. The game is playable and relatively stable, with several hours of fun to be had completing the campaign. Because the campaign is procedurally generated, there is a large amount of replayability already present in the game. This will only increase during early access.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“The base price may be increased upon release from Early Access.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We're always talking to our community to get feedback about what's fun, how to improve the gameplay and which new features to add next, and to let them know where we're up to with develop.

There's a bunch of ways to get in touch. Check out our Facebook, Twitter, Discord and Reddit pages, or our Steam forum and let us know what you think.”
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Available: Spring 2019


Recent updates View all (8)

December 20, 2018

Merry Christmas and a happy new Dev Log

With the festive season upon us, I wanted to bring you a quick round up of what's been going on and what to expect in 2019.

It's been a big year for Overcrowd. Myself and Sarah, who draws the game, have made good progress, and some really enouraging words have been written about it from some of the top gaming press who had a chance to play it.

We showed an early build off for the first time at EGX Rezzed in April. Kotaku had a play and picked us as one of 8 Standout Indie Games from EGX Rezzed, calling the experience "hugely satisfying".

Later in the Summer, PC Gamer listed us one of 12 cool-looking indie games in development right now, describing Overcrowd as a "quirky-looking 'tactical management sim' ... blends base-building, pausable real-time strategy, and spatial puzzling."

Following that we were fortunate enough to land a full page preview in the magazine proper, where author Andy Kelly wrote, among other things: “There are a lot of interesting ideas in Overcrowd and I hope SquarePlay manages to bring it all together.” You can read more about that in my post here.

In October I announced my target release of Spring 2019. That's still a few months away, but before then I'll be showing you more of what's in store, including some greatly improved commuter animations, and new features like vertical lift shafts, capacitors, hot dog stands, vending machines, more shops, a functioning economy, a procedural and highly replayable campaign, arcade machines, tea machines, benches, fountains, tasers and, of course, escalators. There's more.

Recently I have been focusing on adding these items, reworking walk, action and idle cycles, expanding on a fully customisable sandbox mode, and iterating on how staff act in the staff room by allowing them to wander between amenities, sit down, drink, and gain temporary buffs from caffeinated beverages like us all.

You can see some of our new commuter style in the seasonal Gif we made below. In the meantime if you have any questions, drop by the Overcrowd Discord server or follow us on Twitter.

From myself and Sarah, Merry Christmas!

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November 22, 2018

Overcrowd gets full page preview in PC Gamer

One of PC gaming’s most venerable and well respected print magazines has run a full page preview on Overcrowd: A Commute ‘Em Up.

Featured in the December 2018 issue – which is also the 25th anniversary edition – author Andy Kelly writes about his hands-on experience with the game. Mr Kelly is one of few writers to have had time with the game outside of our presence at EGX Rezzed in April where (did I mention?) we also got picked as one 8 Standout Indie Games by Kotaku.

And, dear reader, I am happy to say, I think he liked it! Among other nice things, Kelly wrote: “You can carve into the earth, and there’s an enjoyable amount of freedom to get creative with the layout.”

As well as: “The interface makes me think of the similarly slick Prison Architect, with bold, simple icons that make the many items at your disposal recognisable at a glance.”

Later, he goes on: “The way it presents the realities of the Underground in a lighthearted way reminds me of Theme Hospital. It has a sense of humour to match its vibrant colours and cartoonish art style.”

He concludes: “There are a lot of interesting ideas in Overcrowd and I hope SquarePlay manages to bring it all together.”

I was really happy both to see the game in print and with what I read, so thank you to Andy for taking the time to write it up. In other news, I’m still working hard to make it all happen for Overcrowd, and as I said in the last update, I’m aiming for Early Access in Spring 2019. Until then, stay tuned for more updates - there are some exciting things in the pipeline.
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“Hugely satisfying ... Overcrowd seems likes a great spin on the Theme template, and I can’t wait to try it again”
Kotaku UK

“Cool-looking ... quirky-looking ... blends base-building, pausable real-time strategy, and spatial puzzling”
PC Gamer

“A great looking game that has a nice Theme Hospital vibe ... promises plenty of chaos-filled business management”
Alpha Beta Gamer

About This Game

Deep beneath the city, a war is waged. It's called the commute.

Every day, millions crowd the tube in a desperate bid to get to work. Can you build and run the perfect metro station to help them make it on time?

Overcrowd is a tactical management sim set on the London Underground. Blending base building with pausable real-time strategy, Overcrowd offers a unique mix of spatial puzzling, strategic thinking and split-second choices.


  • Detailed micro simulation > emergent gameplay
    Everything from bin emptying, generator refueling, power, litter collection, commuter AI and staff activities are simulated down to the individual level. The huge range of interacting systems gives scope for emergent and unpredictable gameplay.

  • Procedural spatial puzzles
    Each level has procedurally generated terrain, offering a fresh spatial puzzle about which to design and run your station. With a choice of entrances and tracks, physical obstacles, and limited space and money, you'll have to weigh up your decisions carefully.

  • Unique multi-floor building
    Sculpt your station concourse down to 4 levels underground. Escalators and lifts are planned for Early Access.

  • Tactical staff deployment
    In Overcrowd you have direct control over your staff. You’ll need to assemble a crack team, tool them up and deploy them to run your station in real time. You can also assign them multiple jobs with different priorities. Pausing the action by hitting space gives you time to react and plan.

  • Handmade isometric pixel art
    Overcrowd uses high res, handmade pixel art with no 3D engine shortcuts. View from four angles with high level zoom to see all the detail.

  • Heat signatures
    Anyone who’s ever travelled on the tube in summer knows the heat can get out of control. Overcrowd models temperature and gives you thermoimaging, air con and fans to help keep your station cool.

  • Unique crowdflow mechanic
    Manage the flow of your commuters via station layout, user-defined directional signage or by ushering them with staff.

  • Unlocking, upgrading, expanding
    Unlock better equipment, shops and tools via the procurement (tech) tree.

  • Turning a profit
    Overcrowd features an economy driven by live commuter purchasing. Set shop prices and restock rates in order to make a profit and expand your station further.

  • Commuter AI
    Commuters respond to their surroundings: different environmental insults will affect them in different ways - making them angry, panicked, unhappy or even diseased. Everything that happens affects your station reputation.

  • Criminality
    Early Access will see a range of criminal behaviours introduced to commuters including theft and fare dodging. You will be able to use staff to incarcerate or eject law breakers.

  • Staff behaviour
    Your staff have needs too. Build a comfortable and well stocked staff room to keep them happy, rested and nourished. They also have skills and attributes which can be levelled up or improved through practice.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows
    • Processor: TBC
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: TBC
    • Storage: 200 MB available space
    • Sound Card: TBC
    • Additional Notes: TBC

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