Overlord Review (360)
Overlord is an interesting game with tons of personality that's both enjoyable and engaging, but some poor gameplay design choices will definitely keep some gamers away.
Posted by Alex V (SpectralShock) on Jun 3, 2009 - 6:44pm EST (Jun 3, 2009 18:44)
Overlord is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Triumph Studios and published by Codemasters. The game was in development for over a year and a half which began in early 2006. The end result is a fairly clever and original game that has good production values, but some of the gameplay mechanics will definitely keep some players from completing the single player campaign. There is no multiplayer or co-op component, so be aware of that.
Overlord is set in an unnamed fantasy world, where the player takes the role of a resurrected warrior known simply as The Overlord who has control over hordes of gremlin-like creatures known as "minions". The player must defeat seven corrupt ruling heroes in order to re-conquer the lands and establish his lordship over its inhabitants. The main selling point of the game is that you can be “evil”, however it is not truly the case. This is a Teen-rated game, after all, so the definition of “evil” here is more of the Disney kind of evil with some violence thrown in. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, however. The whole story and character interactions play out on the “evil” overtones as a joke, such as your main minion elder always suggesting you complete some mischievous deed, or telling you how much he hates the sunny and pleasant country side. There are a lot of things you can do in the game that require you to decide if you want to be evil or not. Many quests are based around saving some trapped characters so that you can earn their trust, and at the end you are given a choice to just let them go or make them pay you for the rescue. Such decisions of “personal benefit Vs the greater good” appear in the entire game, and work well. The story is not a very engaging one, because you are never really told what happened to the previous Overlord, why you are trying to rebuild your castle, and who exactly you are. But I guess that can be disregarded as the game does not really take those elements into the storytelling. The length of the game can run between 10 and 20+ hours, depending on the amount of bonus quests and exploration that you wish to attempt. Much of the core gameplay is artificially lengthened, though, more on this a bit later. As I mentioned, after you are done with single player, there is nothing left to accomplish. But since it’s a good length game, I can say that it’s a good value.
As Overlord, you have two basic attack methods – melee and ranged. Your melee attack is just a swing with your huge axe, and your ranged attacks are your spells. These spells vary from fireballs to ice spikes, and use up your mana points pretty quickly. Your health goes down rather fast too, but thankfully there will be very few instances where you actually have to lift a finger. In the game, your minions are the primary fighters. They are your little army, and you can do with them as you please. There are a few types of different minions in the game, Browns (regular), Reds (fire), Blues (water), Greens (poison), etc. A lot of the time is spent finding and recovering a Hive for one of these minion types so that you can unlock them and use them. This is where one of the major game design issues comes into play – the only useful type of minions that will do good in any level are the Browns – melee fighters who can pick up attack weapons and armour to increase their damage and defense stats. These guys can take quite a beating, and they are versatile enough to survive almost everywhere. The rest of the minion types, however, are only really used in one “domain” (level). Half of the level though is spent recovering a Hive for these minions, so you can’t even summon them yet. Once you finally have the Hive, you usually summon a few of them to get you past certain puzzle (use Blues to swim across, use Greens to clear the acid path, etc), but after that they are quite useless. Once you’re done the level, there is little use for these special minions because they are usually weak fighters, and can only pickup armour (not weapons because they use ranged attacks).