Charge is a passive utility program which reduces the PWR cost of other programs by 2 down to a minimum of 0, but increases their cooldowns by 1 turn. Program PWR costs of 0 are not reduced by Charge, but their cooldowns are still increased by 1 turn. Charge has no effect on passive programs, except for those with cooldowns (Emergency Reserve and Seed).
Charge can be bought from some Server Terminals for 900 credits.
Charge's effect always applies while it is installed, and cannot be enabled or disabled at will. Charge only raises other programs' cooldowns at the time they are used, so if Charge is installed while another program is already on cooldown, it does not raise that program's cooldown timer. If Charge is sold while another program is on cooldown, it also does not decrease that program's cooldown timer.
If Charge and Overdrive are both installed, their effects stack, so that other programs' PWR costs are reduced by 1 down to a minimum of 0, and their cooldowns are reduced by 1 turn down to a minimum of 1 turn. However, every active program will have a cooldown of at least 1 turn, even if it would normally have no cooldown.
Charge is not a good program, although it is not as bad as Overdrive. Its cost of 900 credits makes it the most expensive out of all programs available from Server Terminals, and it is actively harmful if you have programs that already cost 0 PWR. At best, Charge is a situational program which can work in specific loadouts.
The main problem with Charge is that reducing programs' PWR costs is mainly beneficial if it lets you use those programs more frequently; but the increased cooldown also prevents you from using them as frequently. Particularly since every other program has a cooldown of at least 1 turn with Charge, you can typically use at most four programs per turn as Charge occupies one slot. In low-PWR-generation strategies where the shortage of PWR is the bottleneck for how often you can hack, Charge can be beneficial, but in these strategies you normally want programs with low PWR costs, which do not benefit from Charge anyway.
Charge is somewhat similar to Seed in that both reduce the PWR cost of other programs, but while Seed applies to one program use per turn allowing you to use other programs at their full cost, Charge applies to all program uses and prevents you from using them a second time in the same turn. Seed supports a loadout where a program with a high nominal PWR cost is used once per turn, and low-PWR-cost programs are used for the rest of the hacking. In contrast, Charge only really works well when all of your other programs have high nominal PWR costs.
For many programs, Charge either has no benefit or makes them strictly worse:
Charge does unambiguously improve some specific programs:
Other programs with higher PWR costs become different when combined with Charge, but whether they are better or worse depends on your loadout and strategy:
Overall, the vast majority of loadouts have at least one program harmed by Charge; there is almost always a better program you could install instead of it. It is rarely worth 900 credits, and even if you find it for free in a Program Compile side-mission, an empty program slot is usually preferable (though you could install it just long enough to sell it for 450 credits).