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Overlord Review

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Murder, mayhem, magic - it's good to be the Overlord

★★★★

An unholy cross between Pikmin’s cartoonesque real-time strategy and the familiar conventions of a fantasy role-player, Codemasters’ Overlord is a genre-busting experience that will charm armchair generals and virtual swashbucklers alike.

Casting players as an evil dictator attempting to rebuild his shattered kingdom, progression in Overlord is driven by time-honoured RPG formalities; defeating enemies and completing missions allows players to upgrade their despicable warrior’s weapons, magic and armour, in turn allowing you to tackle bigger challenges and work your way towards the final showdown with the powers of good.

But while Overlord looks like a Legend Of Zelda or Final Fantasy adventure at first glance, it’s the antihero’s legion of helpers that are the real stars of the show. The cruel business of pillaging towns, slaughtering peasants and stealing treasure is all done by the hero’s myriad minions; a swarm of squealing, chuckling gremlins that do your dirty bidding without question or any concern for personal safety. And like in Nintendo’s surreal Pikmin, different coloured creatures have unique abilities that can be called on in perilous situations, with red gremlins able to endure fiery attacks and green beasts unaffected by poison.

The intelligence of your minions and the fact they’ll follow orders quickly and efficiently makes Overlord a joy to play and – aside from a handful of awkward moments that require you to use several coloured creatures at once – playing the game gives players a similar same sense of achievement to mastering Pikmin’s amorphous, rainbow-coloured army. And while the game may be a little linear for many players and others will be frustrated by the game’s pedestrian sense of evil – more Disney villain than Lord Sauron – Overlord is still an enchanting adventure that liberally steals from other more po-faced licenses without ever taking itself too seriously.