Over­growth is fast and bru­tal, but feels like it’s miss­ing some­thing.

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS - By Tom Hat­field

It is oblig­a­tory that ev­ery ar­ti­cle on Over­growth start with a bit on how long it has been in devel­op­ment, so here’s mine. When Wolfire Games first started work on its rab­bit beat-’em-up, both Ge­orge W Bush and Gor­don Brown were still in of­fice, the first An­droid phone had not yet launched, and there was only one Mar­vel Cin­e­matic Uni­verse movie. The Hum­ble Bundle was a spin-off project from Over­growth, that is how much the in­dus­try has changed while this game’s devel­op­ment trun­dled on. So, af­ter nine years of con­tin­u­ous, open devel­op­ment, you prob­a­bly want to know what Over­growth is, and the an­swer is this: Over­growth is fast. Over­growth is very, very fast. The pro­tag­o­nist, Turner, is a gi­ant rab­bit man, which means he has the pro­por­tional strength and speed of a rab­bit (it’s prob­a­bly best to not check the ac­tual sci­ence be­hind this). He runs with as­ton­ish­ing speed, he can leap hun­dreds of feet through the air, and his man-rab­bit kicks are dev­as­tat­ingly bru­tal.

And he kicks a lot. The ma­jor­ity of your time in Over­growth will be taken up with kick­ing other rab­bits to death (plus cats, dogs, rats and a few wolves). The com­bat sys­tem is in­cred­i­bly sim­ple, re­quir­ing only two but­tons: At­tack and de­fend. As you read that sen­tence, you’re prob­a­bly imag­in­ing an Arkham- style sys­tem with care­fully timed rhyth­mic but­ton presses, but it’s not like that at all. In­stead, hold­ing down the left mouse but­ton (you can use a pad, but un­usu­ally I felt more comfortable with a mouse) leads you to con­stantly auto at­tack, while hold­ing down the right au­to­mat­i­cally blocks and dodges. Di­rec­tion keys in­flu­ence both, with a di­rec­tion hit just be­fore a dodge lead­ing to a throw, and jump­ing and crouch­ing while at­tack­ing re­sult­ing in sweeps and sweet dive kicks.

What this all means is that fights in Over­growth are fast, in­cred­i­bly fast, far faster than it could be if you had to click for ev­ery at­tack. Fights rarely last longer than a few sec­onds, but when your care­ful plan goes wrong you’ll in­stead be locked into a des­per­ate strug­gle of dodg­ing and kick­ing. It’s im­pres­sive to see a sys­tem that is as fun when it all goes per­fectly as when ev­ery­thing de­scends into farce. So fran­tic are the bat­tles that it wasn’t un­til the se­cond playthrough on a higher dif­fi­culty set­ting that I felt that I ‘got’ the sys­tem prop­erly, and wasn’t just des­per­ately re­act­ing to things.

Un­for­tu­nately, com­bat is only half the Over­growth ex­pe­ri­ence

Bunny Hop

Un­for­tu­nately, com­bat is only half the Over­growth ex­pe­ri­ence. The rest of the game is taken up with far weaker plat­form­ing sec­tions, where Turner’s prodi­gious jump and wall-run­ning abil­i­ties are used to scale lin­ear ob­sta­cle cour­ses. When the game started, I was con­vinced I was go­ing to love this as­pect. There’s a joy to sail­ing through the air as Turner, and the wall-run­ning brought back pleas­ant mem­o­ries of Prince of Per­sia: The Sands of Time. An­noy­ingly, I spent a good pro­por­tion of my time watch­ing Turner grab the wrong thing, ig­nor­ing the ledge that I was aim­ing for and in­stead mount­ing a jut­ting out piece of rock and do­ing chin-ups on the edge for ba­si­cally for­ever. Thank­fully, there’s an in­stant restart and some gen­er­ous check­point­ing, so you’re rarely in­con­ve­nienced by a missed leap, but it has the feel­ing of pun­ish­ment and rep­e­ti­tion that the ex­hil­a­rat­ing com­bat largely avoids.

Beat-trix Pot­ter

I’m hon­estly torn on Over­growth. I love the speed and bru­tal­ity of the fights, but at the same time they are so fast, and so brief, that the game al­most feels in­sub­stan­tial, a prob­lem not helped by a pa­per thin an­ti­hero plot. Per­haps the de­vel­op­ers re­al­ize this, which is why they’ve added the less-im­pres­sive plat­form­ing sec­tions to pad ev­ery­thing out. It’s such a strange-feel­ing game, it seems im­pos­si­ble to tell who will like it.

In the end, Over­growth re­mains what it al­ways ap­peared to be through all those years of devel­op­ment: a cu­rio. It’s is a weird, unique cre­ation, a win­dow into an al­ter­nate ap­proach to beat-’em-ups, a strange and beau­ti­ful place to visit, but it just doesn’t feel sub­stan­tial enough to make your home in, at least to me any­way. It is a game to blast through in a week­end, en­joy, and then never think about again.

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