What’s the evillest thing you can think of? Now wind it back a bit (we can’t print what you just thought of) and you should find yourself somewhere in the region of heinous war crimes.
Now think of another evil thing. Was it slavery? Good! Now imagine both of these acts being carried out by a pantomime villain in a pointy helmet in a way that makes everybody laugh and feel good about themselves and the despicable world that we live in. Hey, that’s Overlord II, a game whose morality slider goes from one sort of evil to another sort of evil. Destruction and domination are the two extremes, and being good doesn’t really come into the equation. Which is fine, as the sprawling faux-fantasy world that is the game’s setting is populated by jerk-offs.
Overlord II doesn’t fall far from the action-adventuring of the original game. In fact, it feels more like Triumph’s second attempt, and fans of the first will find themselves in instantly familiar territory. You’re the titular Overlord, a villain in charge of an army of dozens of scurrying minions who’ll pillage, loot and pile on to enemies. On the consoles it utilizes both analogue sticks – one to move your character about the world, and another to sweep your underlings about the vicinity. Pleasingly, this translates well to PC: using the mouse to move your minions is at first clunky, but once you get to grips with just how subtle your gestures have to be it quickly becomes intuitive.
Fable is structurally this game’s closest relative. The map is an interconnected web of levels which don’t pull off the feeling of a proper open world, but at the same time the levels are diverse enough to allow you to backtrack in search of resources and treasure. From your throne in the Netherworld you’ll receive quests to progress the plot, as well as various other quests to dominate or destroy the locations you control (or simply to pester the locals). At all times you can explore your dark sanctuary, which is home to the game’s weapon and armor forging, minion resurrection (hurrah), and the nicked-from-Fable II-but-not-as-good wife management stuff.
The minions remain the game’s stars though. They’ll destroy anything you point a bony finger at, either throwing themselves at a selected target or streaming forward and interacting with the first thing they encounter. Clubbing seals, smashing crates, lobbing fireballs – they’re largely autonomous creatures, who’ll retrieve anything of value from the detritus and return it to you like an over-excited child.
They retain their ability to wield and wear all of the fallen crap they find scattered about the floor – though tragically the game fails to demonstrate this feature as well as it did in the original, where a run through a vegetable patch would have your minion forces decked out in pumpkin helmets. Instead, your first batch of minions will sport some less impressive seal-fur hoods nicked from the corpses of dead hunters.
Scavenging armor and weapons like this increases your mob’s effectiveness, indicated by a rising percentage stat on the HUD. Not only that, but in certain cases you’ll use disguises to allow your minions into previously inaccessible areas. Roman garb will get you past town guards, and at times you’ll have to combine the sartorial puzzling with your ability to leap into the body of a minion, which makes them far less conspicuous than when an eight foot tall bastard was standing in their midst.