Overgrowth Leaps On To Steam Early Access, Slices Price

By Graham Smith on December 18th, 2013 at 4:00 pm.

A whole world for punching.

Its rabbit characters are not the interesting thing about this game. Overgrowth is interesting because this indie project from a small team has physics-driven kung-fu, destructive and satisfying swordfighting, environment-hopping wall-running, stealth, RPG mechanics, local multiplayer, and a level editor that allows you to construct your own scenarios.

The game has been in paid-alpha since 2008, a time when “paid-alpha” wasn’t really a thing we understood. Now it’s available on Steam Early Access. There’s more detail and videos below.

Overgrowth is being developed by Wolfire Games, and the team release regular videos outlining new features. Here’s a recent one showing the dialogue system and how you can use the level editor to create your own cutscenes:

The last five years of development on Overgrowth have been spent building its engine and gradually adding mechanics, so there’s currently nothing of the game’s eventual story mode available to play. Instead, the current build offers up different challenge scenarios, in which you might need to sneak up on bipedal rats to take them down, or fight against groups of wolves. The community have also built a lot for you to play.

It’s the combat that currently makes it worthwhile. It takes some practice, but when you start to get the hang of its combination of blocks, grabs and hits, you can string together impressive, almost choreographed fight sequences. The physics-driven animation gives everything weight and variation, too. Here’s a recent video on the addition of spears.

Wolfire Games previously released Lugaru, to which Overgrowth is a sequel. They’re also responsible for sublime, violent, short-form indie games like Black Shades and Receiver. The latter simulates guns in terms of your interactions with them, providing separate buttons for each distinct action – removing a magazine, slipping individual bullets inside, sliding it back inside, pulling back the hammer, cocking, turning the safety off, and firing. In doing so it re-creates cinematic moments of stress and tension, as you fumble and drop bullets on the floor while trying to reload as flying, electrifying robots chase you. It’s brilliant.

Wolfire was also founded by some of the same people later responsible for starting the Humble Bundle. While Humble is operated as a completely separate company, I’d imagine these bunnies to be financially secure.

Overgrowth is currently 17% off on Steam till January 2nd. People who previously purchased an earlier alpha should be able to receive a Steam key from their Humble store page. You can also buy it direct from the developer, from the Humble store, and discounted for now in the Humble Store Winter Sale.

Here’s another screenshot:

Confirmed: eating from bushes.
(Source)

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43 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    That’s the second most impressive footage of bunnies fighting each other that I have seen this week. The other one being this.

  2. Premium User Badge

    stahlwerk says:

    daawwwwwww!

  3. misterT0AST says:

    I remember how impressive this thing looked when it started development, in 2008, 2009, when most indie games looked like Super Meat Boy or Sauerbraten. Now I’m a bit spoiled by games like Sir, You Are Being Hunted, Gone Home, Miasmata. I was blown away by this kind of graphics coming from an indie developer, back then.

  4. Geebs says:

    I think we need to unite the “game” and “not-game” factions to do battle against the menace of the “sell you the engine as an alpha” hordes

    • LionsPhil says:

      Heh, yeah…

    • Premium User Badge

      Dorga says:

      Wolfire are the mighty masters of Humble Bundle, I wouldn’t anger them..

      • Geebs says:

        The Humble Bundle is great. Selling people software that isn’t even complete enough to be broken as if it was complete (price, showing up in stores where they normally sell completed stuff) is terrible.

        • Deadly Sinner says:

          You are completely mischaracterizing this. Wolfire are completely open and honest about the state of the game. Steam has a big “EARLY ACCESS GAME” warning in a light blue panel that stands out from the rest of the page above the “Add to Cart” button. Right below that warning, the developers give a description of exactly what people should expect if they buy the game. No one is being tricked here, so it’s ridiculous to be offended over this, and it’s ridiculous to want to take the option to buy the game away from people who want it.

          • Geebs says:

            “Early Access” sounds like you’re getting something exciting and exclusive though, if they wanted not to be disingenuous they could at least refer to it as “unfinished” or similar. Look, I defend your right to waste your money on anything, and I have myself kickstarted promising projects, but this amounts to spoiling your own game for the very people who are most excited about it.

            (Also remember that there are people out there who will pay 400 quid for a photo of a box)

      • jo-shadow says:

        Well, Jeff and John (former Wolfire devs and humble bundle founders) aren’t really regularly involved with Wolfire anymore. Other than being Jeff’s brother, David (Sole programmer on Overgrowth) doesn’t really play any part in Humble Bundle.

    • Shooop says:

      If it turns out to be as good as an engine as it looks like it could be I’m OK with that. Because then even if the base game they make is poor, someone’s bound to make a great game with the engine.

    • Sindwiller says:

      You don’t seem to understand what the point of an Alpha is – at all. The core gameplay is there already, it might even be changed over the course of development, but the point is that while they’ve got a clear vision of what many core parts of the game will look like (probably including story), many things they’ll add as they go. Also, consider that they’re a two-men team. What they’ve delivered already is marvellous. The in-game level editor is quite sophisticated and easy to work with, they’ve already got a BUNCH of graphical assets. As I said, many of the core mechanics are already implemented, which does not, however, mean that they should leave it at that since Overgrowth does not seek to be just a graphically pimped Lugaru.

      Also, you could imagine that they can’t do this whole game development gig full-time yet, right? :P

  5. ZombieRiot says:

    I really, really like the looks of this game, a physics driven brawler like this doesn’t come to PC very often.
    But they’ve been at it for 5 years and they’re in alpha. I don’t doubt their determination, but as much as I’d like to support the project, plunking down 23€ for what seems like far from a safe bet… I’ve become far too cautious with early access lately…(okay, I did just support NEO Scavenger and Age of Decadence, but those do seem like safe bets).

  6. Flappybat says:

    £19 for a game that’s been in alpha since 2008 and is still a prototype? You couldn’t get people to pay £19 for a finished indie game three years ago. I’m in the wrong line off work.

    • adammtlx says:

      The industry is changing rapidly. Just in the past few years there’s been a huge surge in interest toward smaller studios willing to take risks on new ideas and can do a lot with relatively few resources. Large studios have to sell a lot of copies of each game they produce just to break even. They’re in this position because they spend many millions on each game under the mistaken assumption that if they don’t, no one will buy it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their business model isn’t sustainable and we’ll probably see a decent-sized crash in the next 3-5 years.

      Meanwhile gamers are becoming less and less interested in big-budget games. Why spend $60 on a game from a big studio when you can get as much or more entertainment for $15 from a small developer?

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Presumably you don’t get the “free copy of Receiver for pre-ordering” he’s mentioned in videos before if you take the Steam option? (Won’t load here at the moment.)

    “Gratz” on the significant decimal number your game has claimed as an appID, though, Wolfire.

    • Pliqu3011 says:

      I guess not, but why would you buy it from Steam? The Humble Store-thingie gives a Steam key _and_ a DRM free copy.

    • Premium User Badge

      thristhart says:

      From Wolfire’s blog:

      Conversely, if you purchase on Steam directly, you can optionally right click the game and choose “View CD Key”. This will let you go to a URL like https://www.humblebundle.com/s?key=your CD key here] which will grant you access to our secret preorder forum, and let you download the DRM-free version as well!

      Presumably that is where you can find Receiver as well.

  8. GamesInquirer says:

    I thought buying early meant I got a better deal. Oh well.

    Additionally, I guess I’m in the minority of the fans but I so wish I could perform and time all the fancy moves myself rather than have a single attack button with the underlying technology deciding what it does with it based on a million factors. Context is obviously a must have, I want to perform different moves if I’m standing, crouching, jumping or wall running, but the way it’s done here is way too automated. I don’t feel in control, or much satisfaction when an attack lands.

    • firefek says:

      I’m a bit divided on this one. I absolutely adore the Monster Hunter series, where you have a fixed move and timing for each button or combo since it relies on real mastery of the range and timing of the moves, making it very satisfying. However, it also feels extremely limiting or the move seems a bit awkward in certain circumstances.

      For example, you are fighting in a narrow corridor. If you have fixed moves, chances are that your weapon will simply clip through the environment or bounce off the walls. If the latter is true, devs get around it by allocating a combo to that situation, this complicates the moveset and game balance since there is more to remember and some moves can end up being abused. Furthermore, it makes dynamic combat much more complicated and possibly less satisfying. Parrying in Chivalry has the same animation no matter which type or direction the attack comes from, making it a visually awkward affair, which I’m sure some have a real beef with.

      Contextual moves shrink the scale of the fighting system a fair bit without compromising flair. This leaves time for balance and consideration of other gameplay aspects such as parkour and jumping without straining the budget. It also does not have to compromise depth too much, from what I’ve played, Overgrowth relies heavily on positioning and reflexes to win a fight, especially in 1 vs 2 or more. I do think that the fighting itself could be made more interesting if there were fixed moves, but it would be very cumbersome and only a few people will truly make use of that system. Hopefully, with contextual moves, the streamlining will result in breadth and depth in other areas just like what MOBAs did for RTS.

  9. jonahcutter says:

    I almost think Wolfire should focus on developing gameplay systems, like other companies develop graphics engines, that they then sell to other game designers. Designers that create interesting worlds and stories, but where the actual gameplay may not be as fully developed.

  10. AngusPrune says:

    Steam is quickly becoming the place to buy games that have been in development since the stone age and will probably never see 1.0 before their creators die of indecision.

    Still, doesn’t beat Age of Decadence’s decade in development, so it has that going for it.

    • LionsPhil says:

      When is Dwarf Fortress being greenlit?

      • L3TUC3 says:

        Never. As far as I read interviews, ToadyOne and Threetoe don’t care much for the popularity, money, nor the perceived obligations it brings by mainstreaming. They seem pretty content living as hermits while creating their niche masterpiece, living off donations that might come their way.

        That being said the increased rate of updates recently (front page news went from bi monthly, to monthly, bi-weekly, weekly and now daily!) indicates a new version is on the horizon. It’s been more than a year and a half since the last. Christmas maybe? This is of course purely speculative as Toady’s creative process is typically in bursts, but the more excited he is the more likely he’ll share his latest.

      • Greggh says:

        It was greenlit already – in my heart <3

  11. Press X to Gary Busey says:

    Will we play a complete, finished game ever again? Not unless you play Nintendo games I guess.
    Almost all of my most played games in the last few years I’ve moved on from long before they reach the finished-line.
    Not specifically directed at this game. Just a ranty observation of the recent tidal wave of early access and the pre-order “alpha/beta” trends.

    • LionsPhil says:

      I suspect publisher-backed games will not go away. See the advent calendar for some reminders that they’re not all uninteresting CoD (for example, CoJ: Gunslinger).

      • GamesInquirer says:

        But COJ: Gunslinger is COD: Wild West. Looking cartoony and having an entertaining theme doesn’t make it any less of a linear, cinematic, scripted sequence ridden, pop in and out of cover shooting gallery. I agree with the sentiment (about not only Nintendo offering fresh, complete experiences) and I enjoyed it but you’re not helping the argument with that example.

        Of course, the idea that only publisher backed games are complete nowadays is silly too. Plenty indie games launch complete and plenty publisher backed games launch incomplete despite the lack of an early access status.

        • LionsPhil says:

          I played much of CoJ charging forward in a fury of bullets. Sorry, it’s not CoD at all, unless we’re stretching CoD wide enough to just mean “shooter”.

          • GamesInquirer says:

            I meant the enemies pop in and out of cover. Obviously depending on the difficulty chosen the player can manage without cover in either series, though the mechanics heavily encourage it anyway. If your description was supposed to make it sound different to COD, it failed. There are plenty shooters that aren’t like COD, but COJ as a series (well, at least the two FPS titles) isn’t it.

          • derbefrier says:

            I have been playing on the hardest difficulty and I can tell you hiding behind cover is not always the best thing to do. Otherings that seperate it from cod are boss fights and dueling. Have you even played it or are you basing this off of 3 minutes of youtube video? It really plays nothing like a cod game. More of a mix of oldschool and arcade. You can even run around levels looking for secrets and not fail a mission!

          • GamesInquirer says:

            I didn’t say it is always the best thing to do (how could I when there are scripted chases, sequences where you use immobile deployed weapons and other such very original stuff) so that’s not an argument against my posts. If you just felt like saying that, alright, cool. The duels are a tiny fraction of the game and play awfully. I didn’t want to mention more flaws since as I said I enjoyed it but I guess you wanted to. Yes, it has various such annoyances. The idea I haven’t played it is hilarious. Perhaps you haven’t played COD if you find it so different just because of these superficial features (or think it doesn’t have boss type encounters).

    • Stan Lee Cube Rick says:

      Could we be entering the age of the permanent beta?

  12. ZHat11 says:

    Peter`s artlclee is exceptional… I just bought a brand new Lotus Carlton after earning $9041 this-last/month and-also, $10 thousand this past munth. it’s realy the nicest-job I’ve ever done. I began this six months/ago and almost straight away startad making minimum $73, per-hr. find out here http://www.Buzz95.com

  13. L3TUC3 says:

    Indeed, it’s not a strategy that works out for every developer. Lots of thing can go wrong between prototype and release.

    For small Indie teams it does bring some sorely needed income they can use to further the game’s progress, but with others it seems like a cash-out over the backs of interested players that expected continued development *cough*Towns*cough*. Potential is worth money now. Once a couple of projects fail I’m sure people will stop throwing money at games that aren’t done.

    On the other hand even a few major releases this year missed their targets and burned their fanbase with their full traditional release (X-rebirth and TW:R2 come to mind) that might have been prevented with early access feedback. Which is in contrast with the ArmA 3 alpha and beta early access stage where the feedback had some impact but the game still shipped without some major advertised features.

  14. KK Lament says:

    So many fools tryna hate on early access/alphas/betas these days. I feel like early access is one of the most exciting things about PC gaming right now, especially with games like Overgrowth, Maia, etc. Even if design reiterations based on player feedback are an empty promise (which I don’t believe), we’re still getting to play some of the most ambitious and exciting games early – usually in an advanced enough stage of development that they’re worth playing, and the purchase prices we pay give the developers more resources to improve their games. I’ve bought into the early access for Starbound and War of the Vikings, and they’re both some of my most played games of the last month. War of the Vikings only has like two maps right now, but the gameplay is so fun and constantly improving that the limited maps is a non-issue. Overgrowth will probably be the same story – the combat engine looks incredible, and Steam makes it very clear that the game is in an unfinished state. It’s not a scam or an institutionalized method for developers to half-ass their games and make profit. And anyway, brevity and quality aren’t mutually exclusive – I don’t understand the preoccupation with buying a “finished” game. Ultimately what makes or breaks a game is gameplay, and that’s what they’re selling you – along with the promise to reiterate on that gameplay based on community feedback, so that the coveted “finished” product is the best possible. And that’s real :’)

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      I don’t think any sane gamer is hating on early access. It’s more concerns of the trends out of love for our hobby. :P
      There are lots of amazingly promising games with early access and even a few finished, beyond 1.0 at this point.
      My most played games in the last three years are probably Civ5, Fallout New Vegas, M&B: Warband, Kerbal Space Program, Terraria and Minecraft.
      Three of them were launched as early access and two of them are beyond 1.0 now. I felt it was enough of Terraria and Minecraft after a few hundred hours and that was way, way before any 1.0. KSP is also getting to the ‘I’m done’ point in my mind. I wish it wasn’t. I wish they would launch way closer to the 1.0 point so I could experience them feature complete from the beginning when they are “fresh” and I don’t know every little quirk of the engine.
      But it’s my problem really. I don’t have enough patience to wait and I would miss out on the whole social whats-happening side. And all my friends would already be tired of Minecraft and Terraria if I had waited that long.

  15. Williz says:

    I’m fairly sure I;ve got two copies of overgrowth… One from a bundle at some point in time and another from pre-ordering NS2.

  16. Cronstintein says:

    Early access is tricky and I think wise gamers have to be very careful which ones they dive into. Magicka: Wizard Wars, for example, is incredibly fun early-access (48 hours and counting). Weekly updates keep me coming back but when they first went EA they already had a very solid kernel of gameplay.

    If there isn’t a solid game already there, EA is a trap best avoided for both gamers and developers. You’ll have a rush of people come in, decide the game sucks because it isn’t ready yet, and potentially never come back because their curiosity in your product has now been sated.

    Maia and Prison Architect are examples of this. I want to wait until these games are fully realized before jumping in. Those games will likely only have about 5-20 hours of “interest time” for me and I’d rather not waste that while it’s systems are incomplete.

    I haven’t been following Overgrowth closely enough to judge but I’m going to wait until the game is finished because just a bare-bones fighting engine doesn’t really interest me very much (although I think the style is very cool).