Review by BloodGod65

"A spiritual successor to Dungeon Keeper"

Anyone who has played the Dungeon Keeper games typically remembers them with nothing but fondness. Creating your dungeon, recruiting monsters and waging war against the goodly heroes. It was a different take on the fantasy game; one that let you play the villain for once. Now, Codemasters has created a similar game that allows us to indulge our antisocial sides once more (Hurrah!). But how well do they pull it off?

You are awakened by a group of hideous creatures known as the Minions, only to find that your predecessor was overthrown by the oppressed populace. It is now up to you to retake the kingdom and assert yourself as the dominant Overlord. As you progress through the game, you'll meet several of the goodly heroes who helped overthrow the last Overlord, but they've become just as twisted as he was, each of them embodying one of the Seven Deadly Sins (though there aren't quite seven of them…).

As is probably obvious, the Overlord is an evil type of guy, but not as much as I would have expected or liked. Basically, there are no options to be good, only less evil. Even so, the most evil decisions in the game will never result in mass public executions or genocide. In fact, the game's version of “evil” is accurately described as rampant mischief and unbridled mayhem.

As I mentioned before, your entire goal is to take back the land that was stolen from your predecessor. Along the way, you'll be taking on quests in several small lands, until you find the “Lord of the Realm” and kill him. Most of these quests are fairly easy to guess at; either kill someone or fetch something. It is worth noting that, while in the field, you'll have no map to guide you to objectives. Basically, you are thrown into a level and forced to find everything for yourself. This inevitably leads to a lot of aimless wandering.

Combat, on the Overlord's part, is simple although you do have a few options. With your melee weapon, be it axe, sword or mace, you can lock onto your target and swing away. There are no combos or special moves to speak of so you are basically limited to mashing on one button. Magic is also at your command and there are four spells, each with three tiers (the third tier spell decided by your alignment). The first is a group of fire spells. The second are domination spells, which can allow you to slow or confuse your enemies. The third, Shield spells, give you a little protection from damage. Finally, Minion spells make your Minions more dangerous or insane.

However, the game isn't about the Overlord. It's about his Minions. Eventually the Overlord will have four groups of Minions at his disposal, which he'll be able to summon from portals scattered throughout the land. The Minion types each have a special use; the Browns are brawlers, the Reds are ranged fighters and can put out fires and move through it, the Blues are healers and can survive water, and the Greens can stop poison and are apparently stealth fighters. Unfortunately, the only Minion type that is even remotely useful for the better part of the game is the Browns, and the only reason I ever had any of the others summoned was due to some stupid environmental barricade or being forced to use them in a puzzle or boss fight.

Minion control is where the game starts to get weak. Minions are controlled with the right stick, and it is used to sweep them wherever they should go. As long as they are together this doesn't cause many problems, but whenever the group splits (be it from combat, or getting distracted by sheep) both groups obey your commands from their respective positions. This means you can be commanding one group, but another ends up walking into the river and dying. To top it off, each face button (A/B/X/Y) is used for a different Minion group. If you select one, the rest will just hang around the Overlord. This also causes some major problems if you want to coordinate an assault, since you won't be able to put the Blues in with a group of Browns without some extensive micromanagement. However, the system isn't one that completely fails, since it's easy enough to make the entire group do what you want. Still, whenever the game throws a puzzle at you that requires more control than the game is able to provide, it gets frustrating.

Moving on to something more positive, Minions are absolutely hilarious. Just listening to them is funny enough, as they sound like a bunch of gremlins with ADD. They will gleefully scream “Sheepy!” whenever they spot a sheep and bring you items saying “For you!” or keep them and say “For me!”. They also have a wide range of other snarky comments for pretty much every occasion. However, their actions in the field are just as funny. When you happen upon a group of sheep, they'll all rush off in a frenzy. It's not uncommon to see a couple of your Minions riding the sheep like horses, right before they kill them. There was also a segment of the game where I came upon a party with a violinist. My Minions ran over to him and began to dance, hoedown style. They'll also use any number of things they find in the field for weapons or armor (At one point every Minion in my horde was wearing a pumpkin as a helmet).

There's also plenty of other stuff to keep you entertained while not doing quests. Your Tower can be upgraded and pimped out with lots of objects, such as banners, statues and bowls of fire. Once the smelters are found, it is possible to upgrade the Overlord's armor and weaponry by sacrificing gold and Minions, which provide different effects. It is also worth mentioning that once you pick up a mistress you'll keep you'll get an Achievement for “Rocking the Tower”!

Overlord has a very fantastic visual style, and oddly enough, it seems to use the same engine as Codemaster's Dirt. Overlord's style is characterized by a brilliant use of lighting, which makes everything glow with a lazy, hazy quality. This lends the game a fantasy look right from the start. The Overlord's model is great, as are the minions and most enemies, and the environments also look terrific, and further the traditional fantasy look.

Though the Minions are the highlight of Overlord's audio, the rest of it is pretty good as well. You'll probably get a laugh from the townsfolk when they're begging for their lives or telling you to keep the Minions away from their sheep (“I see you eyeing me sheep!”). On the other hand, the music is average and totally forgettable.

THE VERDICT
Overall, Overlord is a good game that is very entertaining. I'd recommend this to pretty much anyone who feels like being the villain for once. But, if you're one of those people who can't bring yourself to choose the gold over saving someone's life, or not slaughtering the sheep, I'd recommend staying away. This game was intending for the wicked – or at least mischievous - of heart.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 05/05/08, Updated 07/07/10

Game Release: Overlord (US, 06/26/07)


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