It seems that mixing fantasy, black humour, and the chance to be the commander of an evil horde of destructive minions asserting dominance over a peaceful community, is an irresistible prospect for gamers. The first game that really did it well was Dungeon Keeper, a PC strategy game released in 1998. It wasn’t until 2007 that we’d see another game resonate with gamers in the same way, and that game was Overlord.
Unlike Dungeon Keeper, Overlord is more of an action game, but the spirit is the same. It lets gamers indulge their fantasies of being an armour-clad, imposing Sauron clone and command an army of critters to tear down settlements and beat the snot out of anyone who dared to challenge their might as they took control of their lands. It was well received, and soon saw an expansion allowing every would-be evil lord could to continue their campaign of corruption.
Overlord II was released just a short while ago, and fans of the first game have been rubbing their hands together greedily in anticipation of more corruption, carnage, and general all-round nastiness. If you’re keen to see just how much more evil Triumph Studios has managed to make the sequel, then read on to see how it fares.
The premise of the game becomes apparent as you play through the tutorial, but to sum it up, the previous Overlord (from the first game) mysteriously vanished, eventually forcing his minions to abandon his glorious tower (the mandatory bastion of evil) and go into hiding in the netherworld, where they patiently awaited the arrival of a new candidate to lead them to the surface world, where they will once more rain terror and destruction down upon the innocent. That candidate is you, a young orphan boy with magical powers who is shunned by everyone who meets him. Turns out that the people of the land have something against magic. Why? Well, it turns out that the new ruling power in the land, the Empire (a parody of the Holy Roman Empire), has condemned the use of all magic as heresy, and executes anyone who practices it. It’s up to you to take on the role of the new Overlord and end the tyranny of the Empire – or more appropriately, to replace it with your own brand of tyranny.
The approach to this is quite similar to that of the first game. You have your base of operations, a fortress in the netherworld this time, as opposed to the Dark Tower of the first game. From this base of operations, you launch your assault on the world by completing missions. As you wander the land, completing missions, more will become available. A nice touch is that, from time to time, a subject from one of your conquered lands might show up demanding an audience with you. They’ll usually tell you something or ask for a favour. Your response usually determines whether you are a corrupt Overlord, or a destructive overlord, which determines your path through the game. Either way, it’s fun to sit on the throne, looking down at the insignificant peon groveling before you, knowing all the time that, at the press of a button, you can retract the floor and send them on a one-way trip to Hell. Your netherworld fortress also allows you access to various amenities, such as the Forge, where you can make new armour and weapons; the minion barracks, where you can resurrect your fallen, higher-level minions; and your private quarters, where you can consort with your mistresses and power up your various magic spells.