For those of you who know of Wolfire Games, then you’ll definitely feel nostalgic now that the sequel to their well-received game Lugaru has finally been released. Overgrowth is a cross-platform, 3D action game that has seen years of development. Since its release, it has shown that it has made a couple of good improvements over its predecessor. However, there are a number of things that prevents it from being crowned as an amazing game, and turns it into one that’s alright or even good at best.
Platform Reviewed: PC
Platforms Available: PC
Developer: Wolfire Games
Publisher: Humble Bundle
Release Date: October 16, 2017
This review is based on a review copy provided by Humble Bundle.
You play as Lugaru’s returning main protagonist named Turner, an anthropomorphic rabbit who’s greatly skilled with both hand-to-hand and weapon combat. Several years after avenging the murder of his family, eliminating the wolf threat, and freeing the rabbits from the cowardly rule of king Hickory, Turner decides to travel the island of Lugaru in the hopes of finding a life other than endless bloodshed. Unfortunately for him, he finds himself in many predicaments wherein he will once again have to draw upon the skills that made him into the great warrior that he is today; all in the hopes of finally achieving the peace that he desires.
While the story may sound interesting, the way it’s executed won’t exactly be grabbing anyone’s attention. Character development is not Overgrowth’s strong point as none of the characters are memorable enough and Turner just felt flat throughout the whole experience due to the subpar writing. The story tries to pull you in by bringing up situations that try to make you feel for the characters, but it’s done in such a way that you could hardly care about who they are and what happens to them. It doesn’t help that the campaign only lasts around 3 hours long, making it one of the shorter indie games available in the market.
Visually though, the game looks great. The blades of grass swaying with the wind, the way the sun sparkles in the water, and even the snow that blankets the mountains will give you a treat for your eyes. The sad thing is that while the environments in Overgrowth do look beautiful, they’re mostly empty. Meaning that you can go about exploring it, only to end up finding nothing but invisible walls or a couple of lifeless structures that you can climb on top of. The character models are decent enough, but the one thing that got to me was how Turner looked like every other generic rabbit character in the game. He’s the main character so you’d expect him to stand out. There were many moments where I couldn’t differentiate him from the rest of those in the rabbit clan!
The music in the game does what it’s supposed to; give you the feel that you’re in a particular environment. However, it just gets repetitive and with only a few minor changes here and there when you enter a new level in the game or if you engage in combat. So don’t expect to go rockin out to the game’s soundtrack when you’re about to face off against a large group of enemies.
Overgrowth allows you to choose between three different modes: casual, hardcore, and expert. It’s suggested that players who are new to the game go for casual mode as it offers a tutorial that shows how you can go about the game. However, hardcore mode is also a good option because not only does it have a tutorial that will help new players get into the action, but the difficulty is just enough to offer some form of challenge. So if somehow you made the wrong choice, then you don’t have to worry as you can change it anytime by going through the game’s settings.
Speaking of which, it gives you a nice family-friendly option that allows you to change whether the blood drips, gushes out, or you can have no blood at all! And if that isn’t enough, you can even change its color! So seeing your enemies spew green slime from where you sliced them open with your sword is actually possible.
The one thing that will draw you into Overgrowth though is its combat mechanics. Much like the first game, its hand-to-hand and weapon based combat allows you to tackle enemies in more ways than one. There are only three context sensitive action buttons; namely the attack button, the jump button, and the crouch button. Unlike most games, Overgrowth emphasizes both timing and positioning. Meaning that depending on your approach and how you utilize these buttons, you can take down enemies either quickly or patiently.
You can go through the game by playing it safe and devising the best strategy to take your enemies down with the least bit of hassle on your end. But for those of you who wish for more of a thrill, then you can opt to kill your opponents by figuring out the coolest and most stylish ways of doing so. And let me tell you, jumping out of the bushes and lodging a throwing knife into an enemy’s skull while in midair definitely felt exhilarating.
Enemy variants can also affect how you’re going to go about in taking them on. The animals you’ll be going up against are cats, dogs, wolves, rats, and your main character’s very own kin, rabbits. You’ll find that you can’t take all of them down in the same way. For example, I can easily sneak up on an enemy rabbit, grab it from behind and silently take it down. However, when I tried doing the same thing to a dog type enemy, Turner instead throws the enemy over the shoulder instead of killing it on the spot. These are things you’re going to have to look out for if you want to master the combat in the game.
Weapons also play a decent role in the fighting department. Lets say that you see one of the anthropomorphic enemy rats and you decide to take him head on. Normally you would quickly go in for the kill as rats in this game are best taken head on, but once he pulls a knife out, then you’ll see that the rat’s attacks become quicker and deadlier. But if you do manage to take him down, then you can use the knife for yourself, giving you a much better edge against other enemies that stand in your way.
The A.I in this game is no joke. The harder the difficulty, the smarter the A.I gets. So if you repeatedly use one move, then enemies will learn how to counter it. If they’re large in numbers, then they’ll swarm you and do their best to make sure that you don’t even get a chance to breathe. Enemies will even back off and pick up a dropped weapon to ensure you meet your untimely rabbit death.
The game is fast, so much so that you actually have the option to slow things down if it’s too much. But its quick-paced action is what makes this game enjoyable and it’s suggested that you crank up the speed to a point where you think you’ll get the most enjoyment out of.
Since the game has no HUD (head-up display) the only way for you to gain information about your character’s health is through visual cues. Meaning that if the screen is getting more and more red and that you see blood flowing out from Turners’ body, then its highly likely that you’re about to kick the bucket. Sound can also play a big part as to how you’re going to take down any baddy that you see. It’s one of the aspects of the game that impressed me greatly. However, you’ll have to learn that it can also work against you. At one point in the game I decided to sneak up on a rabbit and take its life from behind. As soon as Turner took hold of the rabbit, it dropped its sword which let out a large metallic clang., thus resulting in another nearby enemy rabbit hearing said sound and immediately ran towards me to engage in combat. This eventually led to me dying whilst I was holding on to one of his buddies.
Because of the game’s ragdoll physics, it can create some hilarious moments such as seeing your character’s body twisting in ways it’s not supposed to due to an ill-timed jump from the top of a snowy mountain. Although it can get frustrating when you miss your jump attack and fall face flat on the floor like an idiot. The struggle in watching your character getting up while enemies surround him will make you wish that the physics in the game just allowed you to jump right back up instead of watching Turner slowly and helplessly try to get into an upright position.
It should also be noted that the jumping in this game feels great! Turner is able to jump so high that you’d think that he had an invisible trampoline right underneath his feet. However, the one big drawback to this is that you can’t influence the direction of your jumps once you’ve set its course midair. Meaning that if you’re jumping forward, then that’s the only direction you’re going.
This definitely doesn’t help when you have to do the platforming sections of the game. You would think that since you can jump high, then this game should have some good or at least decent platforming. Sadly, that isn’t the case as these sections in Overgrowth are more frustrating that it is enjoyable. There were more than a number of times where I began to feel upset as Turner kept latching on to edges I didn’t want him to. There were even platforming sections that felt too unfair and had me trying over and over. I will give it this though, it makes you try and find the best possible angles to help you test your ability to determine which places are best to jump from as well as making sure that you do it as careful as you can.
A good thing about this game is that you won’t feel as frustrated as you’re supposed to when you make a mistake. As Overgrowth has a feature that allows you to respawn without any loading time! So no matter how many times you get stabbed by a dog, fall of a cliff, or even crash into a wall, you don’t have to worry about it since you can instantly respawn in a matter of seconds. It also helps that the game is pretty generous with checkpoints so there really isn’t much to worry about in that area.
While you can download mods to add more variety to the game, they aren’t exactly ones that will truly enhance the experience. Mods such as one that allows you to fight in a coliseum sounds great right? While it can be fun for a short amount of time, I found that you couldn’t configure how you would want to go about the fights and that once you start fighting, there’s no end to it until you decide to leave that particular game mode. Hopefully one day those in the community will be able to develop mods that will make Overgrowth even better, but for now we stick with what we have.
Overgrowth also gives the old players of Lugaru a nice treat as it offers you Lugar’s campaign mode but revamped to work with the new ‘Phoenix Engine’. This means that you can play the first game with greatly enhanced visuals, giving you that oh-so-sweet feeling of high quality nostalgia!
Overall, while the game can be fun and enjoyable at times, there were things that could have been done so much better. So if you’re looking for a game that doesn’t give you much of a story, but has decent and fast- paced combat mechanic, then Overgrowth is definitely the game for you.