Overlord: Raising Hell Review

Overlord doesn't really have much of a story, but the premise is enough to carry the game to the end. You play as an evil soldier/despot that is brought back to life by your minions, who are strange little gremlins with various abilities. Your goal is to spread "evil" across the land and find all the missing pieces of your destroyed tower. You'll get all this info in the first 10 minutes, and there aren't too many story-driven exchanges after that. Basically, the game plays out as the Lord of the Rings trilogy from Sauron's point of view, had he not been defeated and turned into an eyeball. You'll murder Halflings, (Hobbits) explore their homes, steal from them (all the homes look like Hobbit houses - circular doors and all) and generally make their lives a living hell. You'll even crash a birthday party in the beginning of the game, which is presented as nearly identical to Bilbo Baggins famous shindig. Later on, you'll hit most of the LotR destinations, from mines to mountains to an all-too-familiar tower. For the most part, the story is enough to keep players going and the references to Frodo and the gang are momentary distractions, but you aren't going to find any rich narrative in Overlord.

By now you are probably wondering how an ugly game with a loose frame for a premise, rather than an actual story, is one that I'd recommend. In Overlord, to put it plainly, gameplay is king. What could have been a boring strategy game is, mostly due to a faster pace and a fantastic control scheme, a transcendent action/puzzle experience with more than enough going on to keep even the most fickle gamers interested. As I mentioned earlier, Overlord is a lot like Nintendo's Pikmin games, in that you are a single protagonist who has control over a growing and multifaceted army of minions that will do pretty much anything you want them to. In Pikmin, you were using multicolored little plant people to collect pieces of Captain Olimar's broken spaceship, in Overlord, its wide-eyed gremlins collecting pieces of your destroyed castle.

The similarities don't end there. In both games, your small army's different colored troops have different abilities, all of which will be utilized before its all been said and done. Overlord takes things a step further than Pikmin, allowing you to not only use your minions' different abilities, but to upgrade them, outfit them with weapons and magic and build their numbers and powers in a much more customizable manner than Nintendo's sim allowed. Even though the ideas are generally similar, Overlord ends up feeling more open-ended than Pikmin. Not because Overlord is any more complex, but because you have a better grasp on your lackeys and more say over what they are capable of doing.

Another major plus is that in this game, the Overlord character can be just as dangerous as the monsters you'll control. Captain Olimar wasn't much of a fighter, but the Overlord is a force to be reckoned with. His attacks may be simple, but you can upgrade his weapons and armor to make him even more of a threat. Granted, the minions will do 90 percent of your fighting and puzzle solving, but in a pinch, the Overlord can enter the battle and help flatten even some of the more powerful enemies.