By Fabrice Stellaire / March 22nd, 2018
|Release Date||October 16,2017|
Associating animals with Kung-Fu has often been a successful move in animation. Many games have also tried this, and Overgrowth follows this path. But does it master it?
Before talking about the game, it is important to talk about Lugaru, the prequel of this game, which was published in 2005. It told us the story of a retired rabbit warrior, Turner, whose friends and family are slaughtered by raiders who attacked his village. Overgrowth takes place after our hero has achieved his quest for revenge and is looking for a peaceful place to live. Unfortunately, the world of Overgrowth is chaotic and cats actively kidnap rabbits to make them their slaves. The adventures of Overgrowth will force our hero, Turner, to face cats and a lot of their servants, who are other cats, dogs, or rats. The reason why these self-obsessed cats rule the world of Overgrowth is that they seem to be talented at deception and manipulation, and even predators like wolves are often their slaves.
The gameplay of Overgrowth relies mainly on jumps, as rabbits can perform really high jumps, and combat. The fights in the game feel rather frustrating because they do not provide any feeling of power. This happens mostly because of how the ragdoll physics are handled, and because hitting an enemy does not generate any meaningful reaction. In video games where fights are good, the player’s attacks produce a noise or a graphic effect, feedback that makes victories over an opponent satisfying. This alchemy is absent from the game, and the fact that all the environments are rather empty and graphically bland does not help the player to enjoy the game. It is stated that the development of the game took nine years, and maybe this is why the graphics and gameplay feel outdated and lacking. In Overgrowth fights consist mostly of attacking with a single button and blocking/countering, a mechanic which is fine in many games but whose execution does not feel convincing here. The combos are not really spectacular and do not make Turner look like a convincing martial artist. Being able to use swords and other close combat weapons helps to defeat enemies, and you can also sneak behind enemies to choke them to death, which can help to make some fights easier.
Since the progression of the main story is very linear, with little room to freely explore environments, you would expect some effort to be made on the history, but the dialogue is rather poor and not elaborate. All those flaws in the area of gameplay, story, and environments, provide the feeling that the game is basically a huge sandbox with little to do in terms of interaction. The music is decent and reflects what you would expect from a game involving martial arts, but it doesn’t help to make the game more appealing. The player has the opportunity to play an HD remake of Lugaru, the first game, but even combining the two campaigns, you can beat the story in a single afternoon. This would be fine if the game did not feel as empty. I am aware that some players praised the physics and fights in the game, and I feel the opinions on this matter are mixed, but I definitely think fights could be much better and more polished. It is important to mention that while the game supports controllers, they do not seem to work properly in the menu interface, and to change controller settings, you have to edit a file, which is not intuitive. Three difficulty modes are available, from Casual to Expert. I chose the Casual mode because I was not enjoying the battles. I also tried a mod that was included in the game by default, called Therium 2. This mod has a specific story that expands the lore and features alternate endings, but I found the story to be rather confusing and annoying.
Sold for $27.99 on Steam, Overgrowth does not provide enough content nor a compelling experience to justify buying it at this price. To succeed, Overgrowth would have needed better graphics, much better feedback with fights, and a better realization overall.
Review copy purchased by the author.