Racing games usually fall into one of two categories. First up are the racers that challenge you to loop around meticulously crafted tracks, like the mainline Forza series. Then you have the more open world games that encourage exploration, ala Forza Horizon. Existing in some other dimension is Overpass, from developer Zordix Racing and publisher Bigben. If Forza is about hitting the gas, Overpass is best described as a battle of attrition. While definitely not for everyone, those who stick with it are in for arguably the toughest virtual ride of their lives.
While it’s easy to brand Overpass as a racer, it’s more like a puzzle game on wheels. You’ll still need to complete laps in the quickest times possible and beat opponents (split screen for up to two players, or hot seat for up to eight players), but each of the game’s 43 courses feature a variety of challenges designed to impede your progress, like see-saw bridges made from wooden logs, piles of tires, and rocks. You don’t blast through these tracks high speed. For some of them, the biggest gains are made in five to ten feet, not several miles. And memorizing the tracks is essential to achieving the best times.
Each track is a slog, and its many intricacies won’t be revealed until you drag one of the game’s 23 licensed vehicles (from such manufacturers as Yamaha, Polaris, and Suzuki) along for the ride. Additionally, as you throttle your vehicle over rocks and other obstacles, one wrong move might send you backwards and force you to restart a climb.
It’s sort of like trying to climb up a playground slide. There’s only far you can get until your legs give out and you slide down to the bottom. That’s Overpass. You’ll reach a certain point while climbing up a mountain, and then one questionable decision will cause your tires to give out and send you sliding helplessly backwards. Success, in addition to knowing these courses, is also determined through understanding how to best use your ride and shifting when the situation calls for it; all of these vehicles take damage, so current condition is another important thing to keep in mind.
Courses come in two distinct types. You have Obstacle Courses that task you with barreling over stacks of tires, up hills, and through the mud. Then you have Hill Climbs, which are exactly as the name implies. You’ll start at the bottom of the hill and need to ascend as quickly as possible, relying on a combination of speed, momentum, and skillful maneuvering.
You can tackle courses separately or dive into a career mode that follows the familiar blueprint of being a rookie who wants to dominate the racing scene. Considering how tricky many of these courses are, you might spend an untold number of hours seeing this game to the end.
With a game this punishing, why play it when Forza exists? Quite frankly, because it’s different.
Overpass won’t appeal to everyone. You need to be a certain kind of racing fan to appreciate the developers’ vision. It’s niche, but that’s what sets the game apart from the rest of the genre.
On that note, prepare to face off against Overpass’ tricky courses when the game debuts for PC, PS4, and Xbox One on March 12, with a Switch debut scheduled for March 17.