A while back I was able to try a simulation game on the PlayStation 4 where you had different trucks to traverse some very difficult terrain, rivers, ponds, marshes, and mountains to bring tree logs to the sawmill – unlocking new vehicles as you completed courses or areas. When I first heard about Overpass, it seemed to run along the same ideas, but with all terrain vehicles like side by sides and ATVs from companies like Arctic Cat and Polaris. I got excited and jumped at the chance to try this out and see what it was made of.
First, I have seen the differences between the PC version and the Switch. There are obvious differences, like the fact that no one narrates the tutorial in the Switch version, and there are subtle differences like some graphical degradation that happens for a less powerful hardware device. I can tell you that the differences aren’t missed because the core of the gameplay remains intact. You are to drive your ATV through a course, decide the right power level, speed, and race through the terrain to reach your goal. Everything you do can earn you money to purchase new or different rides so you can experience tracks in different ways that really expands on the core principal of what Overpass is all about; the fun of driving these vehicles and challenging your problem solving abilities along the way.
I have been driving real ATVs through the woods of northern Minnesota since 1985 when my father first decided to pick up a couple of three-wheeled Honda machines. We had countless hours of fun exploring our way through public lands following what are typically logging roads and snowmobile trails in the winter. Many would end at lakes or swamps and we would pick our way through to get to the next place where the trail would continue. We still do this today using Polaris Sportsmans and Scrambler 4x4s – much different machines from those simple Hondas. But the thrill of finding ways around mud holes we would get stuck in or using a winch to rescue a stuck machine are still at the core of why we ride. In the game we are virtually outdoors with plenty of wildlife to admire from deer to mountain lions. But you don’t have to worry about dragonflies smashing into your face or bears breathing down your neck. You don’t even have to worry about being stung by a swarm of wasps because you accidentally parked too close to one. Heck, you don’t even have to worry about hitting a stump on the side of the trail and being thrown over your handlebars and landing on your face, distorting your perfect mug for a week or two. Hypothetically speaking of course.
What you get with Overpass is a sort of blend of Gran Turismo and Sprintires: Mudrunner. This combined experience just makes for an incredibly fun game of racing, but this isn’t a typical motocross style game. Here you are picking your best route through a course and not stuck to a specific track. I apologize only in that I don’t have a lot of experience playing games that have released before with ATVs as the main focus of the content. I got bored with those about as quickly as it takes to boot them up. But if you’re like me and you enjoy riding in real life, but can’t try every possible machine out there and would like to play around with them through a virtual experience, then Overpass is about as good as they get at this point. I will throw in that the Switch version is the only portable way to experience it and a version you can take anywhere has a lot of merit to it.
There isn’t much in the way of music in the background as you play. This is where my allusion to Mudrunner comes in as you only hear the sound of your engine. The sounds of the engines could very well be realistic and sound exactly like the production models they represent, but there is little way that I can verify that. They are realistic enough to give you that sound that you may enjoy without the fumes.
The tracks are very well laid out and pretty challenging. There are many different types of terrain to really test your skills as a pilot of these go-anywhere machines. I did find that some courses presented a “where am I supposed to go” feeling, as they were marked, but possibly intentionally less specific than they could be. Picking a line to get over a rock pile or determining the right speed to hop a log is as much about being able to come in first as your decision of when to use speed to make up time. There are really cool obstacles like the seesaw where you are penalized if you just use it like a ramp and launch yourself over it. You have to find the right speed, get past the pivot point, and get the far side to drop so you can drive off. If you do jump it, you also have the likelihood of damaging your vehicle, which can adversely affect your overall performance on the courses.
There are many options and vehicles to choose from as you progress through the game. There is a career mode that gives you paths and options to go through to live the life of an off-road racing legend or ways to just hop on or in a vehicle to just start powering your way through the courses as quickly as possible.
There are extremely long load times on the Switch, I assume because of the size of the courses and the fact that it seems to be loading the entire course all at once. So select your course and be prepared for a longer than usual wait to play, but it will be worth is once you start playing. Overall, I had a very good time playing Overpass and it appealed to others I know who like to ride them in real life. My younger son who is 12 seemed to get sort of bored with it and had a hard time understanding that getting through the courses took finesse and determination instead of just the brute force of pounding a square peg through a round hole. So take that into consideration if buying for the younger player. Some coaching may be necessary to help them appreciate the finer qualities of off-road riding versus paved road racing.
- Graphics - 9/109/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 7.5/107.5/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
Overpass is a blast to play if you enjoy playing Gran Turismo style simulation driving games and less arcade feeling titles. I would associate this one more with Spintires: Mudrunners than any other type of game I have played. If you enjoy ATV riding in real life or have always wanted to give it a go, but can’t, this is the game for you and a very good one at that.