Overlord turned out to be very much of a pleasant surprise for me. This game was sitting in my Steam library for over a year waiting to be played and although I do extensive research before I buy, I had pretty much forgotten what it was all about.
Our character is known only as the Overlord whose two moral choices in life are to be evil or to be "really evil." This immediately sets the tone of a darkly humorous theme. When the previous Overlord is killed, you are awakened to take his place. As Master, your objective is to restore your tower and retrieve your kingdom from other evil entities. To aid you in this quest, you have an Elder to advise you and four types of gremlin minions that make up your horde. Once you find and return their hives to the tower, you can call them forth from pits located throughout the locations. These four types are quantified by their color and each has its particular strengths and weaknesses. The minions are by far the stars of the game. When you send them into battle or to raid storage areas, they will pick up all sorts of items to use as weapons and armor, including pumpkins for helmets. They particularly love beer as well.
During the game you will find various objects to increase your health, mana and the total number of minions you can call. You need life force, also distinguished by color, to add numbers to your minion pool, which is collected by killing animals, bugs, plants or peasants (that's really evil!). Weapon and armor upgrades can be forged after finding the forges and transporting them to your tower. The forges must be fed by sacrificing minions, but upgrades are limited to certain numbers, so choose wisely. Health and mana, which allows you to use spells, can be replenished at various locations also by sacrificing minions.
Although the Overlord can fight, he is somewhat slow in his heavy armor and it's your minion forces who will do most of the fighting. They can be armed and strengthened by killing the enemies and by breaking everything in sight. Due to the fact that minions can be killed and need to be replaced and re-armed, objects will also re-spawn when you return to locations. Much of your success relies on using the correct type of minions and placing them in strategic positions, more especially in the latter part of the game. Some progressions require finding the solution to a puzzle, but most of these are easy enough to figure out. You will also be presented with a few choices, which determine your level of corruption. These are irreversible and will somewhat affect your future choices, spells you can cast, change the way the townsfolk treat you, and have an effect on the way your armor looks. It will also affect which ending you see.
There are places in Overlord where the graphics are just superb showing fine detail and overall it's a very colorful game and a feast to the eyes. Although the main quests are quite linear, you can actually get a bit confused about where you are and sadly, there is no map to help you out. The kingdom is divided into specific areas, and once a mission is gained, these can be reached by choosing them through a menu that appears only from the tower position. Way stations within locations will allow you to teleport back to the tower, but be sure to return your minions to their pits first or you will lose them.
The movement of your minions is mostly determined through the mouse and, unfortunately, these controls are not the best. The left mouse sends them, the right mouse recalls them and holding down both causes them to sweep in the direction you point. You must physically move the entire mouse to do this. This often causes the mouse to seize up and you lose complete camera control, which in turn results in you minions going crazy and getting killed by running in wrong directions. You must regain camera control by clicking left or right again several times or by pressing escape and resume. However, in battle, you can lose your entire squad through this glitch. Recall is also tied to your mouse and pressing it too long will bring all of your minions. This is often not what you want to do if you have set some of them on guard at a specific location.
Lastly, saving and the ingame menus fall short of ideal starting with the fact that all configuration is done outside of the game and cannot be changed once running. There is no manual save and the game autosaves mainly during level changes. You can get an autosave by returning to the tower, but depending on where you do it, you may have to replay certain areas. It also saves in the same spot, so there is no backlog of saves if you run into problems. However, this slot can be changed by pausing the game and going into options, which is a function that is not readily apparent. Other information, such as the status of your equipment upgrades during forges is also not where it should be and requires extra steps to reach. All in all, a very poor menu system.
Having said that, though, the game is very enjoyable and we as gamers, very adaptable to working around these inefficiencies. Although it can be frustrating at times, for the most part Overlord is overall a pretty good game with its graphics and humorous aspects outweighing its few faults.Note on Overlord Expansion Raising Hell: You must have Overlord installed to play this expansion. It integrates further missions into your already existing game. Everything remains the same except for two things. Holding the button you use for targeting items will allow you to sweep the object your minions are holding. With an already wonky sweep control, this just adds further frustration. Secondly, the missions themselves have become much more puzzle oriented. I was not impressed with either change and came close to giving up on it several times. I did stumble through it, but did not really enjoy it. UPDATE Oct 2015: OverLord: Fellowship of Evil is the new Overlord spin-off game, but it has received mostly negative reviews citing that it is nothing like the other Overlord games and is quite buggy. It was not developed by Triumph Studios, but by Codemasters.