While it used to be true that you could quite easily say a game was designed for fun, recent years have taught us otherwise. Dark Souls style slogs are entertaining in their own way but what happens when a game crosses the line in being too hard for its own good?
Overpass doesn’t start well, the tutorial isn’t really able to show you what to do in enough detail to make it little more than trial and error for the rest of the game and, even then, more error than trial.
The game itself is best described as a hardcore realistic version of Trials HD, a physics test where your vehicle is as much an obstacle as the course. Because it strives for realism, though, it’s not half as much fun (here we are with that word again) and even while it aims for this same realism it seems to occasionally falter at even this task.
On the plus side the tracks and scenery look great. They’re not the most fancy as everything tends to be covered in mud, sand or set inside huge valleys with mountains on either side, but they do the job of making you feel all mucky very well. You’d be hesitant of getting out of your vehicle if you stepped into this game. Obstacles are, therefore, easy to spot and plan for and draw distance is good enough for your heart to sink as you see yet another really difficult hill to climb or set of logs to carefully crawl over.
Another issue is pacing. If someone create tortoise simulator and placed it side by side with Overpass, the Tortoise would be at the finish line before the vehicle could even think of getting there. Every log, every divot and every grassy hill is a potential failing point in this game so you need to practice using a careful mix of brake, accelerator and angle of ascent in order to avoid tripping over yourself.
The vehicles themselves don’t make this any easier. Handling might lean to the realistic side but it’s to the point where if cars had shoelaces then these ones would have had theirs tied together by some sort of scheming opponent before starting. Given that the idea of these tracks is that they are timed, this is not good.
Thankfully, the career is fairly lenient in that it will allow you to complete a course and move on to the next one in a section as long as you actually just finish it. Instead of a linear path it also provides a branching series of courses to try out, so getting stuck on one won’t necessarily be the end of the world. Finishing in the top three will net you more points which equals more money and the ability to buy vehicles and parts to take part in other races as well as making it (slightly) easier to get through previous courses in a quicker time.
I wanted to like Overpass. I loved the idea of a 3D Trials game and this game has the looks and the feel of a rugged physics game but it’s the physics and the opaque nature of the controls that severely let it down.