Overlord – PC
Developer: Triumph Studios
Release Date (NA): June 26, 2007
Nerd Rating: 6 out of 10 – Fair
Morality is a funny thing in video games. In day-to-day life, good and evil can blur easily, with clear-cut choices being rare despite what we were taught as children. In games, however, that clear-cut difference is painfully present: either you’re a pure-hearted shining knight, or you’re the most petty and dickish kind of evil around. This isn’t true in all games, though, where some use reputation or measure on a scale different from good and evil. Then there’s games like the Overlord series, which have you playing the bad guy by default and measure how you do it.
The game starts with you, the heir of the previous Overlord, being awoken by goblin-like Minions. These Minions, led by an elderly member of their species called Gnarl, sought you out from your coffin after a group of heroes killed your predecessor. The land has fallen into idyllic bliss since the previous Overlord’s time, at first glance, and it’s up to you to bring Evil back into the world in a big way.
Upon looking deeper, though, each of these heroes has fallen into a gross exaggeration of their vices. Gluttony, sloth, wrath, pride, greed, lust and envy are all visibly in play as you avenge the previous Overlord and make a name for yourself. Whatever the reason for this may be, it’s not going to stop you from conquering the land.
Overlord’s gameplay is often compared to Pikmin, and understandably so. Over the course of the game, you’ll gather four kinds of Minion, sorted by color, and command them to attack your enemies, gather large items, and generally get things done for you. This and the easily-disposable nature of Minions gel rather well with the ideal of being the villain of the setting. You can even sacrifice Minions to restore your health and mana at altars throughout the levels.
Some major flaws are present and persistent throughout the game. The objectives can often lack direction, leading to players stumbling around as they try to figure out where they’re supposed to go for their next objective. This isn’t helped by the complete absence of a map or mini-map, which is something I was longing for the entire time. The controls themselves are functional, but they can be a bit unintuitive for new players.
I mentioned that the morality in Overlord is less about good or evil and more about different kinds of evil. The implementation still lacks finesse, but it is interesting all the same. Every morality choice is framed in the lens of long-term or short-term gain, and it also factors in things like choosing to kill the peasants you’ve conquered or not during your off-time. The more impulsive you are, the more Corruption you collect. The ability to be evil, and be evil how you want to be, is one of the two major draws of the game.
The game’s second charm point is its tongue-in-cheek humor. Gnarl, acting as advisor for the Overlord, chimes in now and then throughout levels with cheesy lines with an inverted view from the norm—a peaceful, happy day is abhorrent, while swamps or demons are such enjoyable things. The normal citizens of the land are abysmally idiotic, to the point where you won’t feel particularly guilty if you go for a 100% Corruption run, further supplementing the mood.
The graphics of Overlord are surprisingly good, having come in during the early years of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. While it doesn’t stretch the time’s graphical limits, it looks consistently good throughout. Most cut-scenes are done with the in-game graphics, but the opening scene in particular is eye-catching in its quality.
Overlord’s background music is despairingly lacking, being left to atmospheric noises and the racket raised by your Minions. When there is music, it doesn’t really match up with the idea of being the Overlord or the situation you’re going through at the time. While it’s not ear-grating, it can ruin an evil moment.
The Minion racket can, and will, get annoying, if you’re the type for long play sessions. They only have a handful of lines that they can say in total, and frequently repeat these lines ad nauseam. Taken in short bursts, however, your minions presenting you with looted gifts of money or health potions with a declaration of “For the Overlord!” can be somewhat endearing.
Despite some notable and occasionally painful flaws, Overlord proves to be a lot of fun. It gets its hooks into the player quickly by setting the tone for everything to follow, and it follows through with the promises made in its early stages. It’s an interesting ride throughout, and while there’s a lot of room for growth, you could do a lot worse for $4.99.
Share This Post