Overlord ReviewCain Dornan
From the moment that you pick up the controller and begin ordering around some ugly yet charming little creatures, youll smile. Straight off the bat, Overlord is a charming and refreshingly unique game, one of those all too rare gems to grace our grubby mits. Its one of those games that will likely be ignored by the mainstream, leaving only inquisitive gamers and journalists such as myself to appreciate the humor, creativity and imagination that has been pored into this fantastic little outing.
Overlord borrows some ideas from the Pikmin games on the GameCube, adding some of its own charm and dropping in plenty of light-hearted humor to help make Overlord a refreshing and pleasant experience. Its gameplay isnt exactly revolutionary, and its story isnt quite as engaging as we had hoped. However, its overall presentation and effective execution is what makes the game a top one.
You control a mysterious figure who has had the luck of inheriting the powerful and feared status of Overlord. After your predecessor was slain by seven heroes, all of whom have moved on to become corrupt in their own individual ways, the Overlords minions have found you and crowned you as their new king. Sporting some seriously wicked armour and a legion of willing followers to do your evil bidding, you step out into the world to chase down the corrupted heroes and claim back what is rightfully yours; control of the land and the terrified people within it.
The games Pikmin inspiration comes into play with your Minions, who are classified in similar ways to the GameCube hit. Theyre little creatures that follow you around and perform a vast range of orders at your command. There are four different types of Minions at your disposal, each offering their own strengths and weaknesses. The brown Minions are good at fighting, while Green Minions are immune to poisons and toxic gases, as well as possessing some ambushing skills. Red Minions are immune to fire and also wield it as a weapon, while blue Minions can enter water and re-heal fallen Minions, however they have no fighting skills. Throughout the game you are regularly faced with obstacles that require you to use each type of Minion as needed, adding in some great strategic and basic puzzle-solving elements. Youll encounter a vast range of problems, some of which can be approached and overcome differently, with very few proving to be frustrating or annoying.
Youll use your Minions to do just about everything; smash down obstacles that block your way, operate wheels to unlock gates, attack enemies, retrieve objects, or search for gold and new weaponry. Theyve got some reasonable intelligence, capable of finding their own way around obstacles, and Im yet to see them get stuck whilst following me. Theyll also follow your orders quite closing, through to completion, with only the rare occasion arising where I had to order them to do the same action more than once.
Controlling your minions is fairly straightforward. You gain more minions by retrieving life essences that are left behind when a creature is slain. This adds to the number of Minions that youre able to call upon, with a maximum number of Minions that you can control at any one time determined by how far into the game you are and what you have collected, which increase the number of Minions that you can have under your control at any one time. You can issue quick orders with the tap of the right trigger, or give more detailed orders by actually controlling the movement of your minions using the right analogue stick, directing them to exactly where you want them to go. If you have several different types of Minions under your control, you can select to control a particular type specifically, allowing you to carry out activities that are best suited to a particular Minion type while the rest of your followers stand by patiently.
Youll meet some interesting folks along your journey, some of which offer some humorous outlooks on the events. The occasional village, township or gathering location that you visit is often filled with lively characters. While you cant interact with them, which is a bit of a shame, some will shout out some funny one-liners as you pass while others will quickly get on your nerves as they repeat the same annoying line each time you pass.
The game gives you the option of acting evil or being kind. To murder an entire township of its inhabitants, or rescue them from death by retrieving their food that was stolen by other evil creatures? Once you have rescue said food, do you keep it for yourself, killing all witnesses and leaving a township to perish, or do you give it back to them and become a hero? There are both advantages and disadvantages with taking both routes; killing innocents allows you to farm more life essence to help build your army and strength, while letting them live will make the township like you, and not try kill you. There isnt a huge focus on the whole good or bad choice, as its not too often when youre faced with making the decision, and the consequences or advantages usually arent all that significant to worry about.
Tacked on to the side of the single player game is a fairly poor online multiplayer offering, in which you can battle hordes of incoming monsters using your Minions either with or against an opposing player. There are three different game types to be played, ranging from gaining points for killing creatures, including your opposing Overlord, on the level, as well as another involving collecting as much gold as possible, with the other focusing on a co-op survival match of sorts. We didnt find any particular engaging, and judging from the severe lack of anyone online playing the multiplayer, it seems most people agree.
Much like its gameplay, Overlords presentation is pleasantly simplistic and imaginative, sporting the usual cartoonish artistry that youd come to expect from a game of this nature. Environment detail is simple yet detailed, with character designs offering a typical over-the-top style to them that looks fantastic. Its not going to win any rewards for being the best looking game, but it certainly doesnt disappoint. Likewise can be said for the games voice acting; the Minions voice-over work is tops and something to be remembered, with the majority of the characters you come across also sporting some quality voice work.
If youre looking for something a little different, Overlord is worth a look. Its light-hearted presentation, solid gameplay and decent story is a refreshing change from the usual aurora of action-adventure games to grace our consoles over recent times.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.