Review: Overgrowth (PC)

Great Concept, Poor Execution

Developer: Wolfire Games
Publisher: Wolfire Games

Genre: 3D Action, Platformer, Adventure
Platforms: PC
Rating: Not Yet Rated
Price: $29.99

Overgrowth is the spiritual successor of the rabbit-brawling game Lugaru, released in 2005. With the popularity of Lugaru, Wolfire Games announced the beginning of development for Overgrowth in 2008. In 2013, it became available on Steam as Early Access. Now, nearly five years later, the finished product is finally being released, much to the delight of its fans. With the new game, Wolfire promised a better fighting system, beautiful environments, full mod support, and even a level editor. With feedback mostly positive, Overgrowth is sure to build up momentum. But is the game still relevant to gamers after nearly ten years of development? Or is the price tag simply too high for the gameplay and content’s true value?

The climb to end all climbs

Content Guide

Spiritual Content: There is no prevalent discussion of gods and deities, except an occasional reference to unknown beings. The game does not go into the lore.

Violence: Overgrowth involves going against a horde of enemies, featuring human-like rabbits, rats, cats, dogs, and wolves. Fighting involves punching, kicking, throwing, stabbing, and slicing. When injured in any way, the characters will show some sort of blood on their bodies. If stabbed or pierced, blood will gush out. The player can also continue to kick or slice a dead body after it has fallen.

Positive Themes: The main character in the story campaign, Turner, seeks to free rabbits in slavery by killing their owners. While it’s great the protagonist desires to free his fellow rabbits, going about it with a vengeful wrath is not. By the end of the story, there is really no growth in Turner. He remains the same.

Climbing was my favorite part of the game

Review

Overgrowth is a game produced by a small group of developers with a singular goal: to make a kung-fu like fighting game with humanoid rabbits, cats, dogs, and more. It features two story modes, a level editor, and three built-in modsmore of which can be downloaded from the Steam Workshop. At first glance, the game’s visuals are pleasant, the fighting scenes look epic, the environments are beautiful, and the whole concept sounds interesting. But it’s one thing to make it appear fun; it’s another thing to make it work.

In Overgrowth, there are two story modes to play through: the main story and the prequel story, which is the Lugaru pot line. The main story follows the character Turner, an expert kung-fu fighting rabbit who attempts to overthrow the main villain Amethyst. I played on Hardcore mode and the story only took me about three hours to complete. While many argue that Overgrowth should not be played for the story, I say that if you’re going to have a game like this, then it should have a good story mode. It felt way too short and ended abruptly. The Lugaru story line feels the same, which I was able to complete in less than an hour. But because it was short, it left me wanting more story and more levels.

Cool environments are in abundance

The best parts about Overgrowth are the environments. If the level editor is capable of making such awesome and beautiful locales such as these, that’s pretty astounding. Some of the levels are so well-designed, one could look around and traverse the map for a long time. The layouts are vast and leave plenty of room for the imagination. From deep foggy forests to sulfuric lava lakes, the levels are quite the sight to behold. When modding, the player is able to start from one of these base templates, providing a great start for custom builds.

I also very much enjoyed the levels that pitted me against tall, difficult climbs. I found these to be immersive and one of the few times I was enjoying the game. The platforming mechanics can be frustrating at times since wall runs won’t always be successful and you’ll needlessly fall to your death 8-10 times trying to get it to work. Climbs basically end up being puzzles, as I tried to find notches or scratch marks that signify running along the wall or places I can grasp. The object of having to time your long jump just right to land on another platform adds to the list of things to consider. This mechanic was done exceptionally well.

Mods span from other character models to play as to whole level builds

Overgrowth gets a trophy for graphics, design, concept, and platforming. But one thing it lacks is content. Once I played through both story modes, I felt like I was done. Sure the platforming is great, but nothing else really grabbed my attention to keep me interested. There might be some cool mods, but if they still included more of the same mechanics and designs as the base game, they were insufficient. Even the level editor just seems too confusing to use and hard to get into with ease. I wish Wolfire Games had built some sort of tutorial to assist players in building levels. Why not make the level editor actually fun to use if it is a key component to enjoying the game?

The combat is disheartening and leaves much to be desired. There is only one button to attack, another button to guard, and that’s it. If you continually press the attack button, your character will punch and kick. Fighting can be tough against enemies with weapons, so I resorted to repeatedly doing a jump kick until everyone was knocked out. That’s really your only option since the guard doesn’t work too well and the main attack button can be easily blocked.  I never found a way to defeat wolves besides using the jump kicks. This is probably the most disappointing feature of Overgrowth since combat is what looked the most fun in the previews. As of right now, it’s barely tolerable.

And here’s me attempting to kick this character into the lava. Update: I accidentally fell in instead.

You can also use weapons, like a sword, spear, or dagger. These can be fun, since they can either be thrown or wielded. When thrown, they can one-shot kill an enemy or deal significant damage. You can also choose to wield your weapon, slicing up your enemy when up close. When dealing with an unarmed enemy, you’ll be at a strong advantage, but dealing with an armed enemy is much harder since they can parry. Even though hand-to-hand combat can be frustrating, the weapons are pretty easy to use and work well in the combat levels.

Git gud

The music of Overgrowth is pretty good, but is so repetitive that I found myself muting the game. It must have only 3-4 tracks that play throughout the levels, because I rarely heard a different track. Some of the music even sounds repetitive on its own, sounding a bit kung-fu like, but totally uninspired. That being said, below is the track that plays at the main menu. Enjoy!

As for the mods, there is a wide variety of them, but most ended up either being character model mods or unfinished level builds. Sure, there’s a mod for being able to fly and a mod for enabling co-op in the story, but as for actual level builds, I only found one major build that was complete. If that’s all that there is right now, then it’s a huge disappointment.

The price of $29.99 is outrageously inflated when there are much better games at a lower price that blow Overgrowth away. Granted, this game did not have a kickstarter, but it had Early Access and a lot of time to be able to build something with more content and more weight. To be frank, there’s no excuse for this game to feel as unfinished as it does.

My favorite climb in the game

In the end, Overgrowth is not worth the price. The most I would pay for this game is $10 with the amount of content I get. The story is uninspired, the combat is confusing, and the material in this game is very much lacking. But it is not all badI love the concept of the game. The environments are stunning and the climbing mechanics are decent. The character models are good as well…except for the cats and dogs who look a bit deformed. I just do not understand how a game that has been in development for almost ten years can feel so empty and incomplete. If you were a big fan of the predecessor Lugaru, then by all means buy this game. Otherwise, save your $30 for something better.

The Bottom Line

Overgrowth is a bold idea that could have been great, but its terrible combat mechanics and lack of content bog it down.

 

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John Campbell

Based in San Diego, California, John enjoys working, writing, eating with friends and family, and gaming - both board games and video games. After earning a Bachelor's Degree in Humanities, he currently works in IT, but hopes to one day become a full time college professor and writer. His recent favorite games include Persona 5 and NieR: Automata.

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