I am a huge racing game fan, whether it’s realistic racers like GRID Autosport or kart racers like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. It’s exciting when something comes along to shake up the genre, and one of the new subgenres is the off-road simulator. We’re not talking rally games here. These titles offer really challenging terrain for you to conquer. Imagine a cross between the Trials series and Baja: Edge of Control or the Paris-Dakar Rally games. The best-known example in this subgenre is Spintires: MudRunner, which hit Switch in 2018. Well, Zordix Racing and Nacon (formerly Bigben Interactive) have now entered the fray with their entry, Overpass.
Sticks and stones
The racing here takes place on a few different surfaces. There is mud, grass, sand, and rocks, but navigating natural objects such as steep slopes or rocks and boulders are the real challenge. There are also some man-made obstacles such as piles of logs or tires, concrete tunnels, metal seesaws, and many others. Between natural and man-made, it is actually the natural obstacles that are most challenging, pushing even the greatest hill climbers and off-roaders.
There are two types of vehicle on offer in Overpass, and they’re all officially licensed. Buggies tend to be smaller than you would imagine. There’s not really anything like you would see in the Baja or Paris-Dakar rallies. Imagine something more like an off-road go-kart on steroids. Meanwhile, quads tend to be either sports or utilitarian. The sports bikes may be more agile, but the more utilitarian quads tend to have more torque and power. The actual models are nicely presented and look very realistic. There’s also an interesting upgrade system where you unlock components by achieving a top-three position in particular events.
A challenging career
The career mode tasks you with tackling 12 events from a selection of 17. These events can range from just a single track to three rounds and can be hill-climbs or obstacle races. Most events let you choose whether you want to race buggies or quads. However, there are some that will force you to race as one particular type. Once you have completed the 12 events, you will enter the final championship, which is a challenging five-round event. Your first objective in each round is to get to the finish line. This may sound obvious, but it can prove to be a serious challenge at times. The second objective is to do it in a decent time. It’s this time that will decide where you are in the standings.
It has to be said: This is a very tough game. I consider myself an accomplished racer, and I seriously struggled with some of these events. It can also be frustrating as you have no idea how well you have done until the round is over, and there’s no option to restart the round once you have crossed the finish line. Your only guide is that there is a gold, silver, and bronze time target. However, just because you finish in a time faster than the gold target doesn’t mean that you will have won the event. On a couple of occasions, I finished faster than the Gold time and ended up in second place. It’s also worth noting that if you end up on the same number of points as another competitor, they will place above you. There are no ties here.
Visuals and performance
The visuals in Overpass are a mixed bag. There are some attractive models and textures. The lighting is quite nice, and there are some impressive reflections off the water. However, this comes at a price. Whenever there was water, the frame rate took a nosedive. The game rarely has a super smooth frame rate, but when there is lots happening on screen, it really chugs along. I would have much rather had a game that doesn’t try to do as much visually but runs smoothly. The game also crashed several times during my playthrough. This included crashing on a couple of occasions at the results screen, requiring me to replay the entire round again.
My other main gripe with the visuals is when you’re riding a quad bike. When driving the buggies, the left thumbstick controls the camera and allows you to see around the vehicle. If you are riding a quad bike, the left thumbstick leans your rider so it’s easier to stay on the bike. However, it still moves the camera around as well. On occasion, this makes it really hard to see where you are going.
There is a lot to like about Overpass. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of issues. The overall idea is great and offers something that a lot of gamers won’t have experienced. There are some moments of visual beauty as well, but the frame rate really struggles to keep up. This is also a seriously challenging game with the difficulty level only changing the time that the other drivers take to complete the course. It would have been helpful for an easier difficulty to provide you with more grip and less chance of flipping your vehicle over. If you want to try a different driving experience, Overpass may be the game for you. Just be prepared for a challenge.
A review code was provided by the publisher.