Once upon a time, there was a fantastic land plagued with a great evil. People lived in fear of the Overlord. But seven valiant heroes set out to defeat him, ultimately succeeding in slaying the malevolent being and destroying his tower. And everyone lived happily ever after…for a couple years; evil always finds a way, and that’s where you come into play.
In the dark depths of the tower’s dungeon, you are revived, pulled out of your coffin in the dark depths of the tower’s dungeon, shoved into a suit of armor, and summarily crowned as the new Overlord by the Minions, little gremlin-like creatures. It is now up to you to set wrong what once went right, rebuild the tower, assemble an army, and establish your evil rule by killing the heroes, who have since been corrupted by their status and fame.
That’s the gist of Overlord, a game developed by Triumph Studio, published by Codemasters and released in 2007 on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. It’s a mix of standard third-person action-adventure fare and sort-of real-time strategy in the same vein as Pikmin.
Because indeed, evil deeds won’t do themselves, but it’s better to make others take care of all the fastidious looting and burning, wouldn’t you agree?
Well, that’s what the Minions were made for. Those creatures might be lacking in looks, brains and general hygiene, they have thirst for blood and wanton destruction to spare, not to mention undying loyalty for their Overlord. You start out able to control up to five of them, this number increasing over the course of the game and with certain upgrades for a maximum of fifty. They can do many things, ranging from fighting (obviously) and destroying anything that can be destroyed, to activating mechanisms inaccessible to you.
These little creatures are no doubt the highlight of the game, and a good source of humor: their silly antics, whether happily killing innocent sheeps, equipping themselves with whatever makeshift weapons or armor they find (ranging from Jack O’ Lanterns after destroying pumpkins to giant rats’ hides and frying pan after looting a kitchen), drinking ale and relieving themselves on the spot after a moment, or happily pillaging a house and then bring the spoils back to you with happy cries of “For duh Ovuhlord!” or “For tha mastah!”, never get old.
The Minions are divided into four tribes, each with their own characteristics; the Browns you start out with have no special abilities, but are the most resilient and thus best suited for direct combat, Reds are immune to fire and attack by throwing fireballs from a distance, Greens are poison-immune stealth specialists able to turn invisible to attack enemies from behind if ordered to stay in one place, while Blues can swim, resurrect their fellow Minions and use magic to attack otherwise intangible enemies.
Now, as the Overlord, you are no slouch either; besides a basic 3-hits melee combo, you have access to various magic spells unlocked over the course of the game depending on your level of corruption (more on that later) and various upgrades to your armor and weapons. But it is usually safer to let your expendable Minions take care of most of the fighting.
The world of Overlord is a giant parody of many fantasy tropes, with nigh everyone sporting a thick british accent and the various races being at odds with each other: the first major quest is to retrieve a Human village’s food supply stolen by filthy Halflings. Upon completing it, you have the option to give it back to the grateful villagers, or keep it for yourself after disposing of witnesses, which increases your Corruption level, as do commiting wanton acts of cruelty – on sentient beings. Sheeple don’t count, so kill them all, nobody will miss them. They’re a good source of life energy used to create Minions, too!
Corruption, which is an indicator of your “evilness” (i.e. whether you’re evil or EVIL), affects the appearance of your character (in a manner reminiscent of Fable) and what are the highest-level spells you’ll learn alongside the overall atmosphere of the game and the ending. A good chunk of it comes from specific choices you make at the end of major quests.
Overall, I highly recommend Overlord to anyone who likes a good fantasy parody and dark humor, with slick gameplay. It’s available on Steam for a measly five bucks, alongside its expansion Raising Hell, its sequel Overlord II and the multiplayer-focused Fellowship of Evil.