Overlord was a surprisingly fun Pikmin knock-off that tasked you to lead your minions around to help you become the evil dictator of the land. Overlord 2 looked at Overlord and said “We can improve on this” and did. The two games have a cult following, yet there wasn’t much activity after the second game came out in 2009. Enter Overlord: Fellowship of Evil, a four player top down action RPG spin-off that takes everything fans love about the franchise and flushes it down the toilet.
Taking place at some point after Overlord 2, the game starts off on the somber note that the Overlord has once again been killed. Gnarl, the Overlord’s advisor, finds the Book of Evil that allows him to summon the Netherghuls, a group of four Overlord-wannabes that got killed at some point in their lives before they could reach their goal. Together, they must reassemble the Nether Heart and stop a group of do-gooders called the Shining Justice. If you’ve played either Overlord game before this, then you will already know all the story beats that this game just repeats. Good organization secretly doing evil? Check. Reassembling the Nether Heart? Check. “Evil always finds a way”? Check.
Even worse, the game constantly tries to tell jokes, and it’s almost impressive how unfunny they can be. A gag about treating zombies like pet dogs goes on for several levels, quickly moving into “beating a dead horse” territory. At one point a character apologizes for “minion-splaining”, which made me roll my eyes. The minions don’t carry nearly the same amount of personality they have in previous games, occasionally yelling “sheepies” being about the most they can do. Overlord: Fellowship of Evil also tries to play its cutscenes using concept art animation, and they’re so low quality that I’m not sure who let them pass.
Generally, I save graphics for the end of the review, but I noticed how hilariously bad they are most during the few story cutscenes that didn’t use concept art. Every model in the game looks like it was made for the PlayStation 2, making it so that I can’t follow the word “impressively” with anything other than “ugly.” It’s clear they couldn’t be bothered to give anyone animations specific to the context they’re in, so the developers tried to vaguely shoehorn in strange filler animations that don’t convey anything close to what the game is trying to accomplish. Overlord: Fellowship of Evil also tries to hide its events in hilariously ineffective ways. In one cutscene you see a zombie approaching a random townsperson. You already know they’re done for, however, as the game has the “zombie” the townsperson will turn into laying on the ground under the townsperson. The zombie approaches the townsperson, they die (without the zombie doing anything to them), the zombie that was laying there all along stands up, and I wonder if anyone involved in making this scene actually gave a damn.
The bad decisions continue into the gameplay, and for the life of me I genuinely can’t figure out how some of these gameplay decisions were reached. Your character has a light and a heavy attack, but there’s no way to combo them. You just keep swinging over and over. There’s also no point in using anything but heavy attacks since they knock enemies over and keep them stuck in a stun state. The game quickly becomes a hilarious mess of spamming heavy attacks to keep smacking enemies that can’t even get back up. To my shock, this tactic even works with boss fights. The first boss, against a pair of trolls, were endlessly caught in a stun-lock cycle as I just wailed on them until they were dead. Each character has a single skill as well, all of which is some form of “do a lot of damage and knock everyone over”. You won’t learn new abilities; you won’t get new skills, nothing. From the start of the game until the end you’ll just be spamming the heavy attack.
What about the minions? The game still has its four minion types: brown, red, green, and blue. Brown and blue are basic summoned minions. Browns will attack enemies with you while blue will hang back and heal you. Red and green work more like abilities. Red minions run forward until they hit something, and then they explode, while green minions teleport behind an enemy and stab them. None of that matters as getting the minions to do anything even vaguely close to what you want is impossible. Brown minions would wander off doing nothing, and green would teleport to who-knows-where and do nothing. Reds just run the opposite of the way I want. The minion AI is so dumb that I’ll summon one, and they’ll immediately bolt into lava and kill themselves because there’s something to smash on the other side of the lava.
The problem of the useless minions is made worse by boss fights that require the use of minions. A couple of bosses in the game put up shields that only minions of certain colors can enter. Because there’s no way to actually direct your minions, it’s a total crapshoot as to if they’ll attack the boss or not. Worse, even if they do, there’s no guarantee it’ll help. Often I’d find the green minions teleport behind the enemy, then suddenly glitch several feet away and miss their attacks, or I’d have brown minions suddenly get distracted and run off to fight something else. For some awful reason, every boss also has multiple health bars, so you’ll kill them, and they’ll get back up and fight you again, sometimes as many as four or five times in a single match. Thankfully the enemy AI is just as dumb as the minions. A laser shooting floating eyeball would’ve been a challenge since its laser was a one hit kill, but it instead got stuck staring and shooting in one direction and never moved as I took it down. Another boss rammed a wall over and over until they successfully glitched through it and killed themselves. I guess they were trying to escape the game.
Whenever you survive a fight, the game will spawn chests that explode into four different kinds of loot. For some reason, the game decided that each purchasable thing needed its own currency. Every time you want to upgrade your character, buy new weapons (which all work exactly the same with no stats to make them worth it), change how your minions look, or upgrade your minions, you have to keep track of a totally different currency. This is another one of those decisions that I can’t figure out for the life of me, and it seems to serve no purpose other than making sure chests are full of the currency I don’t need right now.
At times the game will offer up a timed challenge, asking you to get through an area under a time limit to get rewarded. Traps block your way, and how difficult they are would vary. Sometimes the traps would instantly kill me, which would just teleport me to the end of the trapped area. Other times the traps did so littler damage I could hilariously stomp though the “race” and win with a huge amount of time to spare, negating the whole event. Winners are rewarded with crowns, and if you have a crown at the end of a level, the game will give you a bonus amount of a random currency, making these rewards frustrating almost all the time.
Last, but certainly not least, Overlord: Fellowship of Evil is a total technical mess. While wandering around the game world, it was prone to freezing for a few seconds randomly every few minutes. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what that was about, but every few minutes without fail the game would freeze for around three seconds. The game would crash randomly if I died, forcing me to restart levels more than I cared to. Enemies and allies would glitch through walls or become invincible randomly, and sometimes I would take damage from enemies even after I interrupted their attacks. At one point I entered a farm with a bunch of pigs, but I didn’t even know they were pigs because they were all placed upside down and halfway into the ground. Another time I entered a level to find a bunch of bodies randomly stacked on the floor, flailing about for reasons I couldn’t figure out. It seemed like I couldn’t play the game without something breaking every few minutes.
Overlord: Fellowship of Evil should be studied for years to come on how to kill a franchise so perfectly. Overlord may never have been anything more than a Pikmin knock-off, but it was one that felt unique and that had a lot of fun put into it. Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has none of that, and its legacy should be a lifetime of preservation in a museum exhibit detailing how to not make a game. At least there it would do some good.
Having zero redeeming qualities is the best compliment I can give Overlord: Fellowship of Evil. It is, without a doubt, the worst video game I have ever played in my life and the only reason I'm not giving it a 0 is because, technically, it runs.