Wednesday, February 19, 2014

3 days of...Overlord!

There's not enough time in the day for evil

Too many games these days have you playing the tireless hero, constantly fighting the barrage of henchmen put in your way by a malevolent being bent on destruction. In Overlord by CodeMasters you are put in the iron boots of that evil mastermind. It's slightly older, released in 2007 with the earliest games of the last generation, but it holds up amazingly well. It's some of the best fun I've had in a game for quite some time.

Scenes like this make me want to laugh maniacally
I'll speak quickly on what makes the game good, then I want to bring up some unique things this game does right. Right off the bat, the mechanics are well explained, and the tutorial is rife with entertaining quips to make it worth playing rather than a chore. As a matter of fact the entire game is ridden with slapstick humor, and it never takes itself too heavily. There are even themes of female domination and slavery, still eliciting laughter from me, even if I felt a little guilty for it. The voices of the minions are constantly referring to your environment and offering their praise, and gold, in uplifted hands at every command. The graphics are standard for the early generation, though the human characters have faces are reminiscent of a warped garry's mod joke. The gremlins that you control however, are well done, and have personality that shows through their wrinkled, toothy grins.

Now, on to what makes Overlord wonderfully unique; everything that it leaves out. It doesn't have a mini-map, or any sort of direction. Most gamers these days would scoff at such a feature left out, but it honestly adds to the game rather than detract. It makes you invest some emotion and time getting to know your surroundings, and in the end makes you begin to care how the world is constructed around you. Establishing a mental map of the dungeons, towns, and paths makes this world inhabit a portion of my mind. Possibly because the protagonist is silent, I care more about a world that I have to actively observe and by extension it's residents. 

The only girl that stands up to you does it from behind a grate.
One of those resident characters being the minions, you might think of them as expendable as you throw them into fountains to their doom to provide you sustenance. However, as you progress through the story, one of your followers may don a pumpkin from the patch you destroyed 15 minutes ago. Or a crown from a treasury that was guarded by a massive half-ling you all took on together. Patchwork armor is formed after killing waves after waves of enemies. Even though they are small and easily dispatched, it's hard not to start identifying with them as they begin to represent your destructive adventures. You miss the little guys when they fall in droves and regret throwing them to the proverbial fire. I've not played a game where I felt so attached to my nearly worthless minions. Individually they are unimpressive and demure, but they're a part of your team and they become important nonetheless.

If anything Overlord is worth playing for the lighthearted commentary on anti-heroes. It's definitely worth it because of it's originality and the unsuspecting way it catches your attention and forges emotion from what seems to be originally a shallow world. After a few quests you even want to begin being the hero, and in a way you are. I mean you have to have a population to rule over don't you? Half the game you spend protecting the spoils of war that you claim a right to. You do this until you begin feeling like you aren't actually a comical villain; instead an unintentional benevolent force sweeping the hills with his mad laughing cohorts. 

Minions are great for carrying the load.
Even if it's not your own
You'll like this game if: You wanted to see the classic hero story from the opposite side of the spectrum. Traveling with minions singing your praise and fulfilling your every wish is one of the best ego-trips I've had in gaming. Ruling with an iron fist can be fun!

(If you had a different opinion or a new video game to suggest, leave a comment below! If you want to recieve regular updates, follow me on Twitter @SimonGolden.)

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