Deep down inside everyone lurks a little part of you that loves being evil. Smashing crates, shooting out peoples windows or simply robbing them of all their worldly possessions, and given the choice between goody two-shoes and bad-ass evil, my hand goes up for evil. Evil is so much more fun! Anyone that played Fable, KOTOR or Jade Empire may have had a true feel of what being an evil character can be like. Fable did a great job of giving you the choice to be a saint or a sinner. When the game Overlord was first mentioned, not a huge amount was known about it. A few pictures of monsters and that was about it, so many people were desperate to find out what type of game is it and will it really live up to its Overlord title.
As the Overlord life was pretty sweet. You spent your days amassing money, items and battering your minions into subjection with an iron fist. Literally. Then the 7 heroes of the land come over to your house, give you a swift kicking and kill you. Happy with their victory over evil they head back to their own lands and rejoice. As time passes these once powerful heroes become corrupted, lazy and fat with greed, so the time is right for a new Overlord to arrive and take back the throne. You wake up in your battered castle, ready to start your new life and you first job is sorting out those naughty little minions.
Minions are your personal army and come in 4 different flavours. Brown minions are your bog standard battle minions. You tell them to batter something and off they go and give it a kicking. Watching them scamper around and dive onto a monster is both gratifying and hilarious. Imagine the bit in Return of the King when the undead batter some elephants at the end and that is just what it feels and looks like, as one of the developers showed off the more advanced parts of the Browns.
You control the Overlord with the left thumb-stick in a fairly standard hack-n-slash fashion, the right thumb-stick moves around your minions. The different minions are assigned to the face buttons on the pad and when you tap the right colour each group of minions shout out their colour “Browns!” or “All!” when you select them. You can direct your Browns to smash up items and bring back what they find. If they manage to find some items like armour or weapons, they check to see if it is worse than what you have on and better than what they have. If you don’t need it, they will arm themselves and level up, making them more efficient and noisy killers. These will keep their armour and weapons as long as you keep them alive.
Reds are your archers of the minion group and have to stay at range. Anything gets too close and then get swiftly killed. As you control the minions you can split them into their separate colours and assign them to flags and move their position. Overlord starts to feel less like a hack-n-slash and more like an RTS now. These minions can also be upgraded with better ranged weapons as the game progresses and can be placed where ever you feel is the best place.
The green minions are something different all together. These ones can by stealthy and wait to ambush enemies. They prefer to back-stab things since it does more damage than frontal assaults. Having them hidden just shows a shaded outline of their bodies and their evil glowing eyes, but using the minions to draw out the enemy and leave their back exposed to the Greens really does make me feel all RTS inside. You can replay the levels to continue to upgrade your minions too but if they pic up an item/upgrade that is worse than what they have on, they drop it.
Sending your minions into battle against some of the games 50+ enemies can lead to a quick death for some of them. So enter the Blues! These magical minions can attack but also resurrect your evil pets. If a Brown in full armour gets downed, the Blue will run over, drag his corpse to the Overlord and you can resurrect him, back to fighting fitness.
With 50+ minions running around, it can get a bit hectic so splitting them up into groups and calling them by colour makes it so much easier to get around. The more this was shown, the more it reminded me of the GameCube game Pikmin. Watching your minions go to work and destroy everything and bring back all of the shiny goods made me laugh several times. So you have minions, weapons and gold so what do you do now?
At the beginning the Overlord gets killed and his tower is destroyed, so when you arrive the tower needs a good repair and redecorating. You will find items around the game that will help you repair the tower and the gold you collect will let you decorate the tower and also expand the rooms. These range from a bank to store your loot, a forge to create weapons and armour. Forging (Steel, Durium and Arcanium) is a fairly simple process which involves finding the right items (Flaming or freezing weapons possible too) and then commanding your minions to dive into the heated lava below, each one does so willingly and with some fancy acrobatics as they do. The castle stores a home for all of the minions so you can keep stocking them up as much as you like and then if you run out mid level, you can summon some more to take their places.
The tower also has a dungeon in it where you can practice against some of the harder monsters in the game. As you meet them in battle, they get added to the dungeon roster. Store rooms are available for your weapons and armour, you even get a throne room for all of your sheep/virgin maidens [Please don’t ask -Ed]. Just remember, Happy Tower = Happy Mistress [Again, don’t ask, you can imagine – Ed]. It is fun to run around the tower and see your loot and how upgraded your tower has become. This indicates how far you are progressing as the overlord and you also get a helpful/aggravating Jester Minion who announces what you have done during the game “Killer of Halflings!” “Lord of Chaos!” are some of his sayings. If you get annoyed, worry not, you can give him a swift kicking and the more you do it he reminds you by calling you “Beater of Jesters”. There is no good or evil, just evil and really evil. The more evil you go via your actions, your Overlord look will change many different shades/looks to reflect your evil status. Full evil has some tasty armour and weapons, plus a fancy evil red glow. Yum.
About 20+ hours of gameplay are in the game for us all to enjoy and that does not include the multiplayer. Ahh, yes. Many may not have known that Overlord does have a multiplayer mode. Six Maps to start with, DeathMatch maps called Slaughter and a two player Co-op mode called Survivor which has hordes of monsters just attacking you over and over and you just have to survive. Pillage mode is just for the gold and loot. Downloadable Content was mentioned as possibly being extra maps and even a four player update too. Single player DLC was doubtful at this point but Multiplayer goodness was a very real possibility.
Overlord seems so much deeper once you get to see and play it. From a bog standard good/evil slasher when I first saw the pictures, to a deep RPG slasher and with a healthy mix of RTS too, with some fun multiplayer modes and plenty of scope for upgrading, Overlord is just evil genius. All I will say is keep an eye on the Marketplace over the coming weeks and you will all be able to check out what an evil laugh Overlord really is.
Originally Written By: Barrie Rogers