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.
Overlord features a large “open world” environment, and it will take some time to explore and familiarize yourself with it’s various exists. Once you exit the main town, you start on a linear quest to complete an objective, obtain an item or rescue someone. These quests are somewhat repetitive, however the various levels in the game are nicely themed and varied to enjoy playing through them. But this is where another game design flaw must be mentioned – you could be half way through a level (maybe 20 minutes of gameplay) and you arrive upon a puzzle which can only be solved with a specific type of minion (say, crossing a pond with Blues). But very often, you have not yet unlocked these minions – to do so, you should have taken another exit out of the town, and completed that other level first. Well, sorry, developers, but some kind of a hint would have been very helpful. So you end up having to run all the way back to the cave entrance, back to the town, and to the other side to start the quest to unlock the proper minions. These kinds of backtracking issues occur very often, unless somehow you are lucky and do the quests in the correct order (or you read the FAQs). It’s pointless, tedious, and it’s frustrating. The process can be sped up by teleporting to your tower and starting the other quest from there, but if you do that, you lose all minions that follow you and have to re-create and re-arm your little guys. As well, you lose your whole minion army pretty much any time you leave the game or use the teleport feature, so you force yourself to backtrack and finish the other quest. Not a good design decision.
The controls in Overlord are mostly frustrating. A glowing circle then appears above the head of the enemy, and it lets you know it’s health and how many of your minions are currently attacking this creature. This is useful for designating targets and managing your attack on multiple enemies. You can call your minions back at any time. The health of your minions is never shown, rather they just fight until a certain amount of damage, or a special attack, kills them. As long as you have minion points though, you can summon more from one of the minion wells around the level. To gain minion summon points, you can kill enemies or the innocent sheep that roam the country side. There is also an advanced minion control option, which worsks by holding two triggers, and your minions group up and can manually be guided around as a group. This is used primarily to guide them to areas you cannot reach and they aren’t clever enough to get to by themselves.
Graphically, the game looks quite sharp with no framerate issues. The environments are well done and levels are unique and interesting to look at. There is not much in terms of special effects, other than fire and water which look ok. The character models are decent, but some NPCs really stand out as poorly created. Voices are done with amusing quotes and interesting conversations, the narrative is enjoyable to listen to. Music is present, but it’s mostly background music and not really that noticeable either way. There are quite a few cutscenes here, mostly to introduce bosses and then their defeats, as well as some story elements.
Overlord was not a huge commercial success, maybe because of the lack of advertising, or perhaps most players were unable to get past the gameplay issues such as backtracking. Some could have not liked the minions control scheme, or that your main character is so weak, so the only action happens with the help of the minions. Overall, the Overlord has enough original gameplay, good graphics and fun characters to make it worth recommending to action and puzzle fans. But at the same time, these gameplay elements could stop many gamers from fully enjoying this title.
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