When the Overlord franchise made its debut on consoles and PC nearly ten years ago, it had a certain charm to it that you weren’t going to see in any other action role-playing game at the time. Praised for its thoughtful humor, strategy, and engaging puzzles, it was hard not to find something to enjoy about the title. Even its sequel, Overlord 2, added to what the series does best: taking the reins wreaking havoc on anything and everything, alongside your ever-destructing team of minions. One of the problems with the newest Overlord installment, Overlord: Fellowship of Evil, is that it just stops being fun.
While Overlord: Fellowship of Evil may initially appear as if it’s Overlord 3, it’s anything but that. Gone is the viewpoint that was present in the first two titles, and what replaces it is a top-down look that is best compared to Diablo 3, only a much more dumbed and watered-down version. It does, however, have some signature Overlord features: the music, the visuals, and the storyline is all there in a way, but it feels like somewhere along the line, the developers just said, “eh, screw it.”
For instance, even though the game’s visuals of the world itself are certainly Overlord-esque, they’re not particularly easy on the eyes. At times, it just looks downright dreadful, and it wouldn’t be hard to open up the app store on your phone to find a game that looked much, much better. It also runs poorly as well, as it struggles to even keep a consistent 30 frames-per-second. This means that, basically, any attempt to do an attack other than your regular basic one will end up with some freezing and can even result in your character’s death if you’re unlucky.
Speaking of unlucky, there were a few times where I got stuck in the environment, couldn’t move at all, and was forced to rage quit and restart. The game doesn’t save your quest progress either, despite a checkmark that says you’ve completed certain tasks when you go to restart a mission back in your home base. No matter what, you start at the beginning, and since there’s no map in the game, it’s easy to lose track of where you’re going and where you’ve already been before.
Technical issues aside, Overlord: Fellowship of Evil also lacks any real customization and upgrading that you’d find in a similar game that it’s clearly trying to emulate. Of the four characters you can choose from — two of which are powerful melee bruisers while the other two are more magic based — your freedom to customize them as you wish is very limited, from attributes, to cosmetics, to weapons.
The weapon portion is particularly disappointing, since there aren’t many at your disposal, and the ones you can choose from just don’t offer much. Maybe you can go buy a weapon that’ll give you the chance to set an enemy on fire with each hit, or maybe one lets you steal health away from an enemy with each hit. Ultimately, none of the weapons you can acquire alters the game in any significant way. Additionally, you can purchase items for your minions, but even that isn’t important, because minions themselves just aren’t important now, either.
Minions in Overlord: Fellowship of Evil work much differently from how they used to in the previous games: no longer can you control them or have them do what you want. The use of them now is that you spawn them when you want, but what they do is up to them, and for the most part, they’re very stupid.
Whether they’re willingly jumping into an obstacle straight to their death or doing a bad job at their intended purpose (like a healing minion who doesn’t even heal you), you’ll learn quickly that if you had to go through the entirely of the game without using a minion, you very well could. Unfortunately, you can’t, because there are parts of the game where a specific colored minion needs to be used to go through a gate to step on a panel, and that’s honestly as difficult and challenging as the puzzles get.
Though you can purchase aforementioned items and upgrades for your minions, like cosmetics for them to wear for no good reason or a node on their skill tree that makes them slightly more powerful, their unpredictable nature no longer makes them a viable asset to help you in battles.
All of these upgrades, weapons, and skills can be found in your home base, which you’ll spawn to after the completion of a quest. Another flaw here is that each of these kiosks are so spread out that you’re just wasting time walking from one end of the fortress to the other, when everything could have just been consolidated in a single menu. Not to mention, everything you can purchase takes its own type of currency, and that just confuses an item system that’s subpar to begin with. The most important spot of the home base, though, is your war table, where you’ll have access to the quest that’s currently available for you.
A bright spot of Overlord: Fellowship of Evil is the fact that the game is made up of a prologue and three acts, so the content here is plentiful and will give you a decent amount of hours in gametime. However, when you’re actually in-game, you’ll find that quests are barebones and a chore to get through after a while, as most of them just consist of going somewhere to kill something and facing hordes of enemies in the process. I mean, killing lots of things is totally fine, but when you’re strapped to just your basic attack, your power attack, your special, and un-interesting weapons, it soon becomes a game of just mindlessly mashing buttons in the direction of your enemies until you eventually reach a boss battle, and then the same technique applies there, too.
Boss battles as a whole are just far too easy — in fact, the entire game is just too easy. These bosses take no strategy or mechanics to kill, and considering your power attack tends to stun and stagger enemies, you can literally spam the same attack over and over and they’ll never even get a chance to a retaliate. Before you know it, the quest is over, you’ve won, and you’ve earned some currency to go and buy items that you don’t actually want or need. Yay … I guess.
Honestly, Codemasters are not the bad guys here for wanting to switch things up and try something new with Overlord: Fellowship of Evil, and perhaps the worst part of all is that you can sense that there’s potential for something good here. However, it doesn’t excuse the fact that the final product is not something fit for public consumption, and those who decide to dive in will only need a short amount of time before they come back to the surface gasping for air.
This review is based on the Xbox One version, which was provided to us.
Overlord: Fellowship of Evil tries something new compared to its predecessors in the Overlord series, but bugs, glitches, and unimpressive gameplay mechanics make it an easy title to decide to skip over.