Developer: Triumph Studios
Release Date: Q3 2007
Being woken up by a pack of loyal minions from eternal slumber and being told you are to be the newest evil overlord of the lands can be kind of a power trip. Oh sure, you're suited up right from the get-go with an ominous set of armor and a large axe to wield, but what kind of evil demigod really wants to soil his hands with the blood of his foes? In Overlord, your biggest weapon is often not the one you hold in your hands, but rather the angry, rambunctious mob of minions standing right behind you.
Overlord comes across as a strange and often humorous take on the standard premise of a bad guy doing bad things. Your character, the Overlord, has been awoken by a small pack of goblin-like minions who have pledged their utmost loyalty to you. It is explained that the previous Overlord had constructed a massive tower of evil but was defeated by a band of heroes. As the new up and coming Overlord, it is your job to regain your strength, restore the tower to its former glory, and ultimately cement your place as the true ruler of all.
In order to accomplish this goal, it goes without saying that many will die. The Overlord himself is a capable warrior and can dispatch many foes with just a few hits, but it is much more fun to command minions to do your dirty work for you. Dotting the landscape in every level are small portals which can be used to pull forth minions, who are at your every beck and call. By left-clicking multiple times in a specific direction, you can order minions to start heading that way, destroying any enemy, flower, jar, barrel, and anything else that even resembles a breakable object along the way. If you right-click, you command a minion to return to you, and if right-click is held, all minions will return from whatever it was they were doing.
Minions can be "swept" by holding both mouse buttons, allowing the player to control the group like a small mob and directly guiding them around. While in this mode, any breakable object, wildlife animal, or enemy will suffer the wrath of the entire group; at the same time, the group will pick up any weapons or armor they can use, or gleefully bring treasure to you. It's not uncommon to send forth your minions only to have them return wielding swords instead of their default clubs and wearing jack-o'-lanterns for helmets from a series of pumpkins they destroyed. The player can only control so many minions at any given time, and while more can be summoned, each portal can only release so many minions before it is expended.
The Overlord can also use powerful magic spells to decimate his foes. For example, the stock fireball spell packs a punch on its own and definitely isn't anything to sneeze at. On the other hand, its effectiveness is much greater when used to set ablaze a wheat field, killing a bunch of innocent farmers and taking down nearby trees at the same time. The Overlord doesn't have an incredibly large amount of mana so spells can't really be spammed, but one can't argue that using a single fireball to kill six Halflings and a sheep isn't efficient.
Overlord is a title that is looking absolutely stunning. When you first get to a new area, it can look straight out of a storybook with bright, vibrant colors and an upbeat soundtrack. In other areas, particularly when you have demolished it with your minions, it can look like something straight out of your worst nightmare. The way the minions act is downright comical, and some of the most visually appealing parts of the game so far are when you send in your minions to start destroying everything in sight.
The title is being released on both the PC and the Xbox 360, and while Overlord definitely benefits from the incredible graphical prowess of a PC, it almost seems like the Xbox 360 gamepad and its analog sticks will make it easier to control your minions and their sweeps. When the two versions are directly compared, they share a fairly high degree of graphical quality, with slightly less detailed visuals on the Xbox 360.
The voiceovers for all of your minions are all well done and really add a great deal of humor. Hearing the gleeful noises of minions who have found new weapons for themselves or some treasure for their Overlord evokes an almost jubilant feeling, and you can't help but learn to love your band of tiny, simple-minded underlings that are bent on destruction.
Though it is still in a preview state, Overlord really has a lot of things going for it. The graphics are incredibly pretty and the sounds and voiceovers are all well done, but what really steals the show are the minions. It is just too fun to use your minions to sweep through the ranks of the enemy and almost totally disregard controlling your character. It is also fun to give simple attack orders to your minions and then jump into the fray yourself. Whichever method you prefer, Overlord has you covered, and though the idea isn't a fresh one, the title definitely has an above- average level of quality in its presentation. Keep an eye out for more news on Overlord as it becomes available.
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