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Review: Overgrowth

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A long time coming, but you may want to wait longer

Lately, I've had a bit of a rabbit problem in my backyard, the little buggers have dug out a nest under my shed. So I decided the best way to approach this situation is to first think like a rabbit. Thankfully, with the release of Overgrowth from Wolfire Games, I now have that opportunity. But, what I've learned in my time spent with Overgrowth this past week, is that once rabbits evolve and become bipedal, they become the true masters of horror.

These terrifying creatures will kill anything in sight, including other bipedal creatures, without compassion. To do this, they'll use crude and basic tools, such as knives and swords, they'll jump incredible distances, and have the ability to climb almost any structure. From my observations in this game, I've come to the conclusion that we need to deal with the rabbit problem now -- before it's too late.

Overgrowth (PC)
Developer: Wolfire Games
Publisher: Wolfire Games
Released: October 16, 2017
MSRP: $29.99

Overgrowth is known by many for its long development history and series of development diary videos. These videos date back years, I still remember watching one occasionally while I was in high school, when they were regularly posted on GameFAQs and other boards. Nine years later, we're now officially witnessing the 1.0 release of the game, and it feels somewhat bittersweet to be talking about it.

To get the obvious question of “was it worth the wait?" out of the way, in short: it depends on your expectations. Chances are, if you were already a fan of the game and preordered it long in advanced, as well as played the many alpha and beta builds of the game, then you'll have a solid idea of what you're in for with the this release. However, if you're like me and went in with little expectations or knowledge of what the full game contained, you might be underwhelmed of what Overgrowth has to offer, especially at its current price point.

The game features two single player campaigns, the “Lugaru Story,” which is an older game recreated within the Overgrowth engine, and the “Overgrowth story.”  Both can be summarized as a series of stages, where you fight other bipedal animals or platform to various points. These stages are strung together by story beats, in the form of text boxes at the start and end of each stage. Either campaign can be beaten in the span of a couple of hours.

The game's story, however, comes off feeling really disjointed due to this style of presentation. It also doesn't help matters that the writing in both campaigns is really cliched and dry, as well as ending rather abruptly, without much spectacle. Instead, where Overgrowth really shines, is in its gameplay, specifically, in the mechanics and technology within the gameplay.

The controls are extremely tight and responsive. Whether in combat, stealth mode, or platforming, I always felt I had perfect control in whatever I was doing. The combat specifically feels really engaging in just how brutal it can be, I spent hours simply playing in the arena mod, generating random fights in which you simply kick the crap out of AI opponents.

There is just something oddly satisfying about landing that perfect kick on an opponent and watching them fly backward, followed by a cracking sound from them landing badly on their head, resulting in a broken neck, and an end to the fight. The dynamic physics at work in this game are something to be applauded.

Another thing of note would be the adaptive AI, during combat your opponents will adapt their defense and counter your moves if you've been spamming the same attack. This nifty AI quirk forces you to change up your fighting style and approach in some of the longer, more drawn-out battles and stages in this game.

With that said, I do feel the jump kick is a tad bit over powered, as there were plenty of moments I cheesed it, simply by jump-kicking numerous enemies to death. The game does attempt to counter this however, by making it so you can potentially land badly from jump kicking, and on the harder difficulties, you can even manage to break your own neck at times from this, but I found this to be a pretty rare occurrence.

In terms of technical presentation, Overgrowth looks fairly solid despite in no way being a demanding game, most people with lower end computers should be able to run it just fine. But I did have a few moments where I had some hiccups, specifically when first entering a stage, as well as the occasional bug, such as falling through the map for example.

Aside from that, the various character models of the different species look impressive. Everything from the various clothing and armor, to smaller details such as the blood spurting out everywhere after slitting an enemies throat, it's the little things such as this, that went a long way for me.

Overgrowth also supports and offers a plethora of modding options, with the developer tools built right into the game itself, all while having an active modding community releasing plenty of content. With that said though, I can't help but feel like it's going to be these modders, and the developers themselves, that make or break this game. This depends on the content they release in the future -- as so far -- the two campaigns at launch feel lackluster.

That said, here's hoping Overgrowth may still yet become something special in the long run. But, as of right now, after all these years, the game was only interesting for me for a few hours and felt like more of a fun novelty, or a tech demo, than an actual video game. While the gameplay and mechanics here are solid and the physics engine is impressive, the campaign on the other hand is extremely disjointed, short, and uninteresting in terms of presentation. By the time I had completed both campaigns, twice over, it just left me wishing they made better use of it all.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]


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Overgrowth reviewed by Dan Roemer

6

ALL RIGHT

Slightly above average or simply inoffensive. Fans of the genre should enjoy it a bit, but a fair few will be left unfulfilled.
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Dan Roemer
Dan RoemerContributor   gamer profile

Dan Roemer unironically likes pop-punk, collects old gaming magazines, and writes about video games. He's been enjoying and dabbling in Destructoid content since 2014. His life goals are pretty ... more + disclosures


 



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    Filed under... #Action #Alpha #Linux #Mac #PC #Steam #Steam Early Access #video #Wolfire

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