Game Info:

Developed By: Wolfire Games
Published By: Wolfire Games
Released: October 16, 2017
Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Action-Adventure
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: 1 player. Some mods allow for 2 players.
Price: $29.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Humble Bundle for sending us this game to review.

Nine years is quite a long time. In 2008, I was just getting out of middle school and going into high school, and now far past the days of college. During that time frame, the developers of Wolfire Games decided on quite the ambition: to create a context-sensitive action game based on their previous game, Lugaru (Loo-Gah-Roo). It took them a long time, but they finally managed to release Overgrowth.

Overgrowth (a sequel to Lugaru) stars an anthropomorphic rabbit named Turner who, after he witnessed the murder of his friends and family, and went on a quest to avenge them, is now trying to find a new purpose in his life in the corrupt world he lives in. The story is merely an excuse to have situations where our rabbit friend can lay the smackdown on whoever happens to be in the way of his ignoble journey. What separates Overgrowth from other action games is that your attacks are all context-sensitive. Depending on how you move, and how close you are to the enemy, you will use different attacks. As Turner is a rabbit, most attacks will use his feet, but he sometimes uses his fists as well.

A strange set of controls, Overgrowth is operated similar to a first or a third-person shooter rather than a typical 3D action game. The camera is operated by the mouse or right control stick, and most of your actions such as attacking, jumping, and rolling are used by the mouse buttons or bumpers and triggers on the controller. It takes some time getting used to the odd scheme, but it really does make sense once everything starts to click together. All the actions can rebind to something else if the default controls are too weird or uncomfortable.


Strong Points: A simple, yet intricate combat system and physics engine; Steam Workshop support
Weak Points: Long loading times; huge levels not used to their full advantage; too reliant on mod support
Moral Warnings: Blood, violence and murder; fantasy racism

The Phoenix Engine is the engine used by the developers, and one that was developed in-house. Phoenix relies very heavily on physics for both its movement and combat system, and both are woven together wonderfully in a grand display. Everything, from the fighting to the way movement is used is tied to the engine. Characters will move faster and slower depending on the trajectory of the terrain, and jumping cannot be altered once the motion is carried. Movement is really fun and free. The sense of weight carried is utilized masterfully and I found myself in many cases simply just jumping around in the world. I would very much like to see a parkour based platform game use this engine one of these days.

The combat of Overgrowth is nothing I’ve ever experienced in a game. Even though the game only uses one button to attack, it has such an attention to detail that it never feels repetitive. As stated previously, attacking is dependent on how close or far your enemies are, and if you are unarmed or not. Rolling and jumping play an important role in combat as well. In most situations if there are simply too many enemies to fight, one can take a stealthy approach to eliminate them one by one. Turner can use weapons to dispatch his enemies, such as knives, swords, and rapiers. Damage by hand-to-hand combat can be rather inconsistent at times, but in a way, it feels like real life, and I personally like that aspect, as it adds a uniqueness to Overgrowth that very few games have.

The most interesting aspect about the combat system is that almost every attack and weapon that Turner can use, his enemies can use as well. In a way, this evens out the playing field. The enemy variety is small and contains others like rats, cats, dogs, and terrifying wolves. The wolves are a unique set of enemies that have clear distinct advantages over Turner, but a knowledge of the combat system can make quick work of these supposedly overwhelming foes.

Making your own game engine is an impressive feat for any developer. With a ten-year development cycle, I did expect more from the story mode. The story portrays itself as scenarios where Turner must defeat all the enemies in the area, or accomplish platforming through the use of parkour. There are a lot of scenes in the two story modes, but each scene lasts a few minutes at the most (excluding screw ups). This also means plenty of loading. Loading times are also quite long, as the loading consists of rendering a large field as well as the option to instantly load. Even though the large fields are quite nice to look at, it’s mostly a wasted effort as most of the space isn’t even used in the situations that presented themselves. It would have been better if at least half of those fields were condensed into arenas, or if they were actually used for something. Both the Overgrowth and Lugaru story (the official stories) last about two to three hours for Overgrowth and one hour for Lugaru. A rather short journey for something with such a long production.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 76%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 6/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 87%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 8.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

Mod support is a great thing. It adds longevity to any game where either the developers meet an untimely demise or simply stop supporting the game. Relying heavily on mods is not such a good thing to do as it puts too much hope on aspects that can’t really be judged heavily, as mods can vary greatly in quality. I’ve tried a few mods out myself and typical of them, some are very good and some are very bad. As of right now there are over 250 mods, and it is all through Steam Workshop. Instead of messing around with files, all a person needs to do is hit the subscribe button and the mods will now be accessible through the game. Wolfire Studios even took a mod one of the fans made (named Therium-2), and added it as an unoffical campaign. I’ve played through that story and it is better than both the Wolfire campaigns, but since it wasn’t created by the developers themselves, It feels weird to me to give credit to the developers for something they didn't originally have a part in making.

For those who have heard of films such as The Plague Dogs and Watership Down, the art style and design of the animals in Overgrowth reminds me a great deal of said films. Just like those films, Overgrowth isn’t kid friendly either. Our main character has no qualms about killing as his past is filled with tragedy. The tale is very sad, filled with revenge, murder and death. Characters bleed quite a lot, but blood can be disabled through the settings. The color of the blood can be changed too, which I found rather interesting. The different species that interact with each other also treat each other with discontent and have terms used to mock each other. If they only sat down and bothered to listen to one another, a lot of the conflict in the game wouldn’t happen in the first place.

A near decade of anticipation is nearly impossible to live up to. If you think of Overgrowth as a game in the traditional sense, honestly, it isn't a very good one. The price of $30 is a steep one for something that looks like it came out in 2007, a short campaign, and the dependence of mod support is an unreliable gamble for a game as niche as this. Overgrowth as an engine and an experience is a fantastic piece of work. Everything just flows together so naturally and seamlessly; the movement and combat is so well thought-out and put together that I personally can have lots of fun with it, and strong mod support can keep people like me coming back for a long time. The game is rather violent, but the graphic violence can be disabled so even those disturbed by blood do not have to deal with it if. For those not 100% sure, it might be in your best interest to try out Lugaru HD Demo as a demo for Overgrowth (unfortunately) doesn’t exist. If you end up liking the Lugaru demo, a great time awaits you in Overgrowth.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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