Overpass Xbox One review: more like Overwhelmed

DVS Gaming (literally) goes off the beaten path with Overpass.

When you get behind the wheel of most driving games, you usually get a high-speed experience that excites at every turn. However, that’s not the case with Overpass.

The developers at Zordix decided to take a new approach with this off-road game. Instead of relying so heavily on velocity, it’s instead a matter of patience as you take on each challenge. It’s off-road but puts all sorts of obstacles in your path and demands you clear them more with intelligence, rather than gunning the gas pedal.

For instance, the game’s tutorial walks you through different scenarios, tasked with overcoming each one the right way. You’re fitted into a small, ugly truck at first, but you can unlock others, like ATVs, as time goes on. However, with its tiny frame, you’re introduced to Overpass’s style of a challenge right away. You’ll need to think through obstacles with the right approach – mud, objects and other dangers in the road – if you want to get to the next section.

It’s a neat idea. Done the right way, Overpass could have some merit when it comes to being more of a thinking person’s driving game. Unfortunately, this game just isn’t done the right way, mainly because it lacks a crucial element – balance.

When you’re not having fun in an ATV, there’s a problem.

You spend too much time in the tutorial.

We took quite a bit of time to get through the game’s tutorial, mainly because we were advised to get over the obstacles without really so much of an explanation of how to do so. There’s a guide, sure, but he just says, “you need to get past these and don’t hit much or you’ll suffer a time penalty.” Like it makes a difference anyway in a tutorial, but it’s frustrating to come across objects and not even get too much of a hint how to overcome. “Drive over dry objects” in some places doesn’t work, because even then, you get stuck. Zordix would’ve done wonders including a self-driving tool to help people overcome certain terrain within the game. Otherwise, you just feel like you’re stuck. And stuck again. And stuck again.

You’re often going to turn over in your vehicle as well. There’s a respawn button to help get you back on track, but you start back at the beginning of the section sometimes, forcing you to overcome a challenge yet again. Not to mention that you have to keep an eye on vehicular damage. It’s fine for the tutorial; but soon after you set off into career mode, it doesn’t take long before your vehicle of choice starts taking damage. And that distances you even further from the finish line.

The career mode isn’t very career-like.

Speaking of the career mode, it lacks rewards. Sure, it throws a lot of challenges your way, some of which are even harder to overcome than in the tutorial. But it doesn’t offer nearly enough to make you feel satisfied for overcoming them. No cool vehicles, no bonus challenges where you can take off-road to the very limit. Just the same old grind with very little in terms of something to give you.

The gameplay isn’t bad, as you really feel the effects of each track and your small vehicle performance. But, again, the way that everything is set up, you never really get to experience what the developers have in mind. That’s due to the limitations that stop you at every turn, between your vehicle practically losing performance and your car consistently turning over to something as simple as, say, a small rock. It’s infuriating.

That’s a shame, because the visuals in Overpass are a knockout, especially when it comes to the realistic mud effects that practically cake your driver and your vehicle. The tracks look good as well, mind the abundant number of objects that stand in the way of victory. And it was a trip to hear M. Emmet Walsh, a veteran actor from a number of movies (like Knives Out), provide narration. We just wish he had a little more character to fill in, instead of the plain script Zordix handed him. The country-style rock is pretty good as well, though it’s fitted for a better game.

You’re going to get stuck. OFTEN.

Overpass just seems like an acquired taste, but even then, some folks just won’t be able to get into it. Driving over the number of objects within the game is a task enough; but then having to deal with time penalties, vehicular damage and hardly any rewards for all the effort? It’s insane. Only the truly strong will want to give this game a go – and even they might be muttering to themselves, “Why didn’t I buy DiRT 4 instead?” It’s definitely cheaper and offers the kind of off-road thrills that you deserve, instead of this wreckage.

RATING: 3.5/10

Overpass has some promise but drowns it in a despair-ridden experience that very few will see through to the end.

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