Ever played a game called Pikmin? In case you haven't, it's a kind of strategy puzzle thing in which you control a main character using the left stick and make tiny little creatures do your bidding by sweeping them around with the right stick. The aim is to repair your base by gathering enough creatures to carry parts of it back through the levels you've explored, and you have to make sure you use the correct colour of creature to get through different hazards - red ones are resistant to fire, blue ones can go in the water, and so on and so forth, as they say.
So, apologies for starting a review of a 360 game with a description of a title on a different format (and one in the last gen) but we thought we ought to because Overlord is, if not quite identical to Pikmin, shamelessly similar. The setting is a familiar fantasy realm reminiscent of Fable, with a diverse set of regional accents, and instead of a little spaceman and tribes of squeaking vegetable people, you have a would-be evil master and a horde of goblin-like minions.
As the Overlord in question, it's your job to bring doom to a land that hasn't had a decent reign of terror since your predecessor was defeated and his tower smashed by pesky heroes many years ago. With the aid of your minions, you stroll out into a countryside filled with happy sheep and start to do some bad. Some really bad.
Well, that was always the idea, but in practice, it's all very silly. For starters, you can't hurt most of the characters you encounter, as they're critical for giving you new quests, and you're basically just hired muscle, helping people sort out their problems in various locations. There are barriers and reward items that can only be moved by increasingly high numbers of minions, so you need to locate the nests of all four different colours to get enough to see you through to the end of the game.
Minions can be sent directly to individual targets but the most effective strategy seems to be to swamp your enemies by using your small army as a mob. You can't fling them onto the backs of creatures like you can in that other game but they'll usually climb up by themselves if you get them close enough. From there, it's just a matter of waiting until the last minute to call them to safety before your victim does a minion-squishing special move.
THANKS A MINION
There are tactical possibilities in so far as you can place markers for each type of Pik-minion to wait at, so the ones with long-range attacks can be kept at the back, but micro-managing them in the heat of battle turns out to be far too fiddly, slow and generally aggravating.
Fortunately, Overlord doesn't take itself too seriously, and is genuinely funny in places, but the cumbersome controls and pedestrian levels let it down a bit. There's too much traipsing from place to place and not enough excitement, and while we'd like to say the concept is genuinely a great idea on the part of the developers, well, it's not entirely theirs, is it?
Stiff controls and samey puzzles hamper what is otherwise a fun, enjoyable romp.
- Humorously stupid
- Neat graphics
- Repetitive challenges