(Images from Wolfire Presskit)
If you’ve been following indie games for a long time, you may recognize the name Overgrowth – or at least images and gifs from the game. Overgrowth is a 3D action game developed by Wolfire games and a sequel to their 2005 game Lugaru: The Rabbit’s Foot. It features Turner, an anthropomorphic rabbit with kung-fu-like skills and legs that can kick the tusks off an elephant. Overgrowth and Wolfire games have gained a certain amount of notoriety in the indie scene over the 9 years (!!!) since it was announced because development has been very open and the game has some impressive tech for a small indie studio.
After the announcement of Overgrowth in September of 2008, the game was released as a very early alpha and updated every few months to a small group of fans until it was moved to Steam as an early access title in 2013. With a slightly larger audience (this was about when I picked up on it) Wolfire continued to push regular updates with accompanying patch notes and information on their blog. This made the game popular with other indie developers who where fascinated to see the inner workings of the game at such an early stage. The lead developer and face of the studio – David Rosen – has been very open about his innovations with presentations like this one from 2014. In January of this year the game officially entered Beta and now Rosen has announced that it will leave beta with few changes in less than a week.
What made Overgrowth such a unique and eye-catching game already at its announcement in 2008 was its physics-based combat system. Through a combination of clever physics simulations and procedural character animation it manages to present an incredibly deep close combat simulation. Characters can sneak, grapple, choke, kick, stab, roll, block and feint attacks – all performed through interpolated animations and physical, visceral movement. Additionally the physics-based movement allows for some crazy parkour moves.
The final beta version of the game also features a full length campaign, a level editor, an arena and local multiplayer and costs 30$/28€/200NOK. For its long-time viability the game will likely be reliant on modding and user-made levels, but given its dedicated fan base this seems like a reasonable course.
Finally, I would like to congratulate the Wolfire team on 9 years of hard work and thank them for sharing that work in great detail with the game development community!