Codemasters usually stick to their sports games, racing titles and incredibly belated Dirty Dancing tie-ins, so the hard to define Overlord is a break from the norm for them. We’ll have a stab at trying to define it though – take Pikmin’s safety in numbers/little helper theme, give it an evil twist with a warped sense of humour as per Dungeon Keeper but give the player a butch character to control from a third person view. Add a few Fable-alike moral decisions to make and you should get the gist. Hopefully.

Overlord ScreenshotThe character you play as – a mute helmet-clad warrior – kicked the bucket years ago but finds himself being risen from the dead by a gaggle of goblins. They’re loyal – so much so that they’re happy to be sacrificed to top up your health – and many in number, but are also dumb and require your strength and guidance to turn an idyllic land into a kingdom for themselves. They’re a mischievous bunch too – during the demo we’ve been playing (avaliable now on Xbox Live) you can command them to destroy a farm and when they re-appear some will have put pumpkins on their heads. For comedy value, like. The first mission though is to slaughter some adorable sheep, because “all they do is chew grass while waiting to be killed”. It’s funny because it’s true!

New goblins can be summoned from burrows in the ground, with only five available helpers from the start. Killing things increases the amount of life force at your disposable though, and so it’s not long before there’s a load running around your feet and bringing you treats from raided treasure chests and such. Like Pikmin you need a certain amount to carry out specific tasks, like moving a fallen pillar or carrying back something to the portal to the underworld.

It’s a bit stupid that you have to get slaves to move something that could easily be stepped over. It’s not like the lead is a weakling either, being able to attack foes with his sword and use magic spells – such as flinging fireballs to burn down fields. The goblins meanwhile can be ordered about with the triggers and can be made to “sweep” the area by moving the right analogue stick. This is useful for sending them along thin bridges and other areas that are too narrow for your warrior to navigate.

From what we’ve played it’s safe to say it’s a fun and polished game that’s guaranteed to raise a few smiles. It’s a bit too early to tell how soon repetition will kick in though, and it’s not clear how drastically the moral decisions will effect the gameplay either. The only thing for certain is that being a good guy is out of the question.

Matt Gander

Matt is Games Asylum's most prolific writer, having produced a non-stop stream of articles since 2001. A retro collector and bargain hunter, his knowledge has been found in the pages of tree-based publication Retro Gamer.

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