Overlord has you take the role of the almighty Overlord, an evil presence who is set to rule over the land.
You begin the game, a newly awakened dark force – tasked with rebuilding your dark tower. You raise an army of minions, terrorize the local population and craft your own armour and weapons. You can even customize your dark tower, which is a nice touch. The narrative and environment are very reminiscent of Middle-Earth, in the sense of a twisted parody where you play as Sauron. The setting is very light-hearted and comical, despite playing the villain in a Tolkien-esque world. The graphics aren’t exactly stellar and there are issues with pop-in, but it does a nice job of portraying the theme of the overall experience. It’s similar to World of Warcraft’s style of softly lit and stylized environments and characters.
Although you are a dark and powerful Overlord, you start off fairly weak, which is where your minions come in. Like Pikmin, you need to gather a force of followers who can aid you in your quest. You need a certain amount of minions to perform specific tasks for you - such as moving obstacles, pulling levers and of course, combat. They can also access smaller areas otherwise inaccessible, revealing secrets and other goodies. There are also various colours which specialize further. Brown minions, for example, are your standard fighting force, whilst red minions are your ranged attackers; greens are your stealth attackers and blues are your healers.
Overlord plays like a very old game; now, I do not mean this in a negative sense – not dated or “retro” – I’m referring more to the game design and ideology. Although there is a main thread to follow, you’re not held by the hand from point A to point B, you are encouraged to explore and find things for yourself. The world is rather large and full of secrets and puzzles, which need actual work and thoughtfulness to find. It makes a very refreshing experience compared to more modern games full of set pieces and elaborately staged corridors.
The controls are very well done, both with keyboard & mouse and a controller; although camera control is limited with a controller. You control your Overlord as you would expect, attacking and using magic but you can also control your minions directly as a horde, allowing finer control, such as sweeping them through inaccessible areas. You are also able to set guard points, sending your minions to station there until you recall them; this allows you to set your fire throwing reds at the back, set up an ambush with the greens etc. It’s nice how much control you have.
The game lasted me roughly 25 hours, which felt very well paced. Some games feel too long, others too short. This game fits neither of these categories.
I highly recommend this game, as I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with it.
Posted: February 13th, 2014