There’s something to be said about perseverance. Most, if not all great feats of humanity are thanks to people that never gave up. Those that kept going despite failing over and over again, learning from each mistake along the way.
I am not one of those people. To quote Bernard Black; I’m a quitter. I come from a long line of quitters. It’s amazing I’m here at all.
OVERPASS, developed by Zordix Racing, is a game for the former group of people. It’s an unforgiving, relentlessly hard simulator that rewards those willing to put in the effort. To call it a Dark Souls of racing games would be reductive, but not entirely unfair. Both will appeal to only a small subset of gamers, and both would be lesser if they were any easier. There is pleasure to be found in OVERPASS, but how much depends entirely on the player.
Designed for both single and multiplayer, OVERPASS is all about improving yourself through the act of repetition. No race will ever be the same, and each time you can find new ways to progress faster and more efficiently through the unforgiving terrain. Multiplayer allows for competing against others in real-time either through split screen or hot seat modes. Even after completing the — surprisingly shallow — career mode, there’s endless replayability in perfecting runs with different vehicles.
This is the aspect that divides those that will either love or loathe OVERPASS. If you can’t get into the meticulous nature of the game in the first few hours (or less), chances are you never will. I certainly didn’t. But I can appreciate how it will be divine for those invested in this type of gameplay. I’m not a big car guy, or at least not an off-road one, so your mileage may vary. But even with that major caveat, there’s a lot to like and love about OVERPASS nonetheless.
Gorgeously rendered with attention to detail, OVERPASS both looks and sounds marvelous (apart from a few key issues). The control mechanics are positively stellar; great care has been put into making these vehicles handle and move with realism. Off-roading down a steep and muddy terrain is downright terrifying the first time, and joyful later as the controls become familiar. Managing acceleration and differentials is key to a successful lap, as each track out of over forty ones available is notably different from others. There are nine different environments to choose from, each with different weather and terrain. Just as you’ve got one type of track down, the game drops you into something completely different.
The vehicles are a selection of known, iconic brands, each with key strengths and weaknesses. It’s clear that Zordix cares deeply about representing the sport seriously, and the game instils a genuine interest in what you’re driving. Unlike with many arcade racers, it’s not just how you drive, it’s also the mechanical aspects that come into play. Tinkering with your buggies and ATV’s is a surprisingly zen experience, especially in between tough races.
Where the game noticeably slips up is the audio presentation on anything that isn’t related to vehicle sounds. The narrator and guide is particularly dour, sounding like a bored Dr. Phil at his best. The tutorial — while absolutely essential to play — is a chore to sit through because of this. On the soundtrack is a collection of d-list elevator jams that become repetitive and quite annoying very quickly. On the PC it’s much more preferable to throw in some music through a third party app.
OVERPASS isn’t for everyone, and that bears repeating. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into with this, as it’s the kind of simulator that doesn’t hold your hand past the first few steps. But if you’re into discovering just how far you’re willing to go in perfecting your play style, slowly becoming better at one specific thing, you’d be hard pressed to find something better.
OVERPASS is out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch. The review copy was played on PC.