We had this fantastic first paragraph lined up about how great it would be to have an army of minions at our disposal. Alas, NGamer editor Nick used that very paragraph to open last month's preview. Turns out, along with the NERFings and other random acts of humiliation, Nick is allowed to swipe our ideas. You see, he's our Overlord. Thankfully, Dark Legend gives us underlings a taste of things at the top.
For all Overlord's crowing about how deliciously evil it is, it actually taps into a softer vice: our laziness. True evil enacts holocausts, this evil asks gremlins to fetch gold that's out of reach - there's a big difference. Strip away the cladding and all Overlord really offers is room after room of smashable scenery and basic switch puzzles. But the cladding is the secret to its refreshing appeal: you don't actually have to do any of the work yourself.
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You point. Minions obey. This is how Nick gets Charlotte to review all the Roundup clag and this is how you get armies of gremlins to mob dwarves and storm barricades. Shaking an ominous glowing fist at gaming convention - namely the notion that we have to obey rules laid down by developers - you're anointed as the force to be obeyed. Does this mean you're detached from the doing? Perhaps, but the remote instils a sense of the puppet master in your actions.
You guide a glowing blue blob (correctly angling itself over surfaces like Captain Scarlet's Mysterons) with the level of command offered by the pointer far exceeding the analogue control of the game's PS3 and 360 predecessors. Those titles relied on neat route-finding AI, which is no match for a precision-shepherded minion. That said, when AI does kick in here - when minions carry relics back to warp gates, for example - the route-finding is seamless. Clever sheep, these little gremlin chaps.
Standing proud in the centre of the screen, you conduct the chaos like a twisted symphony. Sweep the minions across your stately dining room and they devour it in a Tasmanian Devil cloud of chaos. Ceramic shards. Flailing limbs. Snapped candles. Limitless destruction, tethered to a pointer. And when the smashing is done they scurry back to offer the spoils (gold, life energy) in tribute. Despite the numerous things we did for our citizens in Little King's Story, they never showed such affection.
With a (anti)hero largely dedicated to pointing and, er, pointing some more, the minions are Overlord's heart and soul. Amassing various props during your travels (dressed-up minions are more powerful, which is an incentive for keeping them alive), you soon end up with a gaggle of goons donning Indiana Jones fedoras, foppish wigs and sombreros. They bring the comic goods in a world that's packed with rather lame, Pratchett-lite, fantasy-based humour. Either we're exceptionally good at Overlord or the minions have too much heart and soul.
Although the beasties posses unique characteristics (see 'One in a minion' on the left) we encountered few foes tougher than the barrels we're so fond of smashing. Point and the minions destroy. Yes, you could get your head round the rallying system (flags that let specific minion types seize choke points), but hammering attack is just as effective. We lost no more than 20 minions in the whole campaign.
Puzzles fall victim to the generous difficulty curve. Although Climax's control allows for elegant minion command (a few D-pad pokes do the trick), they nanny you with the flow of information. Drip-feeding minion types up to the final two hours allows ample time for each to shine (aside from the greens, whose stealth skill is useless), but little time with them all. And the puzzles never dare to mix types up. Any dunce knows not to send water types through fire. What other solution could there be?