Overgrowth – Video Game
Overgrowth is the long-awaited sequel to Lugaru by Wolfire Games. Overgrowth’s story, like its predecessor, takes place on Lugaru island: a place entirely populated by violent anthropomorphic animals. It follows the further adventures of Turner, the vengeful widower turned wandering warrior, a few years after the events of Lugaru.
An Action Game with a heavy emphasis on close-quarters combat, Overgrowth also adopts the unique combat system of its predecessor – unlike most other fighting games, it relies far less on button mashing and much more on timing your moves right: the position and range of the enemy and the direction you’re moving all influences what Turner will do with each attack. The result is a remarkably fluid and responsive combat system, as this video demonstrates. It’s also fairly realistic in nature. For example, if you hit your opponent hard enough in the neck or they take a bad fall, it’s possible for their neck to break, killing them instantly.
The game will feature vastly improved graphics and physics, a wider range of weapons and combat moves, and new races (the original’s rabbits and wolves plus cats, dogs, and rats note ).
While the game was in beta, the game was given a new update (and a new demonstration video) released roughly every month. It is also now on Steam Early Access, and for awhile was on the top 10 selling list. The game was finally given a 1.0 release in October of 2017.
The most satisfying moments in Overgrowth [official site] take place in mid-air. Rabbits are typically good at jumping, but they’ve got nothing on their anthropomorphic cousin, Turner, the martial arts master and hero of this critter-bashing romp. His leaping ability borders on the power of flight. During those seconds, suspended in the skies above the game’s largely empty battlefields, it feels like anything’s possible. Invariably the landing disappoints. Sometimes fatally. That’s Overgrowth: lots of potentials, rarely reached.
Turner’s arrived in a new land, ready to have a nice, relaxing life. But no! There are slavers he has to kill. And that’s about it for the threadbare narrative. It’s little more than an excuse to get into a series of fights, peppered with platforming sections, and it’s basically the same story as in Overgrowth predecessor Lugaru – a remake of which is included here – but without the personal stakes.
Battles are blisteringly fast, and often a bit absurd thanks to the over-the-top physics engine that calls to mind a slightly more sedate Goat Simulator. On the surface, brawling seems like a simple affair. Hold down the left mouse button to attack, hold down the right to block, or press it to grab an enemy and disarm them, while shift makes Turner roll. Pretty straightforward. Doing this while trying to manage multiple enemies, some of whom might be wielding one-hit-kill weapons, is where the challenge lies.
Fights are all high-risk affairs, too, and Turner can’t take much of a beating. Unfortunately, there’s not much impetus for trying to wrap your head around the system in any meaningful way because the optimal choice is almost always to leap into the air, press the attack button, and watch as your foes fall before you. Sometimes they’ll try to throw weapons at you, but not all that often. The only thing stopping these flying kicks from letting you win almost every battle is that there’s no aiming, no lock-on, and no real way to know if you’re going to actually hit something until it’s too late. For all its issues, however, combat is light years ahead of the platforming.
Overgrowth feels like a mod created for a wacky physics sandbox where all the openness and experimentation has been pushed to the side, and everything else has been twisted around a forgettable, barely present story and a series of brief and ugly levels. I’m just glad that, at around two to three hours long, it’s incredibly short.