As far as racing games go on PlayStation 4, Overpass offers something fairly unique. In this game from Bigben Interactive, it's you against the earth as you traverse harsh terrain as quickly as possible in ATVs and buggies. It's certainly a novel concept, but sadly the gameplay is about as refined as the craggy rocks that you're supposed to climb.

The game is framed to be relatively realistic, with your vehicle reacting to varied surfaces differently and the need to switch to differential lock when needs be. If you're riding an ATV, you'll also need to be mindful of weight distribution, as the position of the driver can make all the difference while you're navigating tricky obstacles. In this respect, Overpass does a pretty decent job; whether it's an obstacle course or a hill climb, you really have to fight the physics system to conquer the track.

Unfortunately, this is partly where the game falls down. Sure, you're meant to feel like you're in a battle with the landscape, but more often than not, the landscape wins. It's extremely easy to topple over, or get in a position where it's nigh impossible to move forward. You can respawn whenever you need to, but the balance feels off. This is a very unforgiving game, especially as you'll also be penalised for breaking barrier tape or crossing certain obstacles the wrong way.

Not helping is the unwieldy nature of the handling. At times it can feel pretty good to drive through each location, but again, the simulation aspect gets in the way of the fun. The vehicles you'll be driving have lots of power, but they also have twitchy steering, and because you're never on an even surface, getting to grips with these things is tough. We imagine the right player will relish the challenge of taming this game, but we suspect many will throw in the towel early on.

Visually, the game isn't half bad, but the audio is another matter. Vehicle sounds in particular are a lowlight; if you have any company while playing this, don't be surprised if the terrible engine noises leave you alone with the TV. In terms of performance, the game is mostly fine, running at a steady 30 frames per second -- unless you try playing split screen.

The lack of polish is a shame, because the courses are well designed with multiple potential routes, and the core idea is solid. There's a Career mode in which you'll compete through numerous seasons, earning money for better vehicles and parts, while Quick Race lets you hop into any track and have at it. Split screen or online multiplayer expand your options too -- it's a fairly well rounded game. However, the gameplay is just not where it needs to be; it's a real uphill struggle. That might be apt, but it isn't all that fun.

Conclusion

Overpass has a neat idea at its core, but it's struggled to pull it off effectively. Surmounting treacherous terrain against the clock is sadly not as fun as it sounds, and you're more likely to get frustrated by the iffy handling and strict rules. There's the kernel of a good game here, and we don't doubt some people will enjoy overcoming this game's challenges, but a lack of polish where it matters most puts this game between a rock and a hard place.