The Dark Steam Hunt Volume Seven: Overlord: Fellowship of Evil
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
The Overlord series is…an extremely flawed series. I have to admit I find myself reminded of the Highlander series (at least one and two) concerning Overlord. Both are flawed and enjoyable cult titles with a decent fan base who both suffer from a catastrophic drop in quality. Yes, Overlord: Fellowship of Evil is the Highlander 2: The Quickening of the Overlord series. A bed sh*tting entry that most likely killed the series stone dead. This corpse needs a What Happed, I want to know what the hell happened here.
Fellowship of Evil picks up a couple of decades after the last Overlord. Goodness has overtaken the world, filling every nook and cranny with kindness and love (yuck). Fortunately, Gnarl and Ricket have brought back four new Overlords to wreak havoc on the disgustingly good humans on the surface. Fellowship of Evil is not entirely a disaster. The game as whole most certainly is. But I cannot go in lockstep with the majority of the reviews and say that everything is a horrific yachting accident. Because the voice acting and writing are the only bright sparks in this dung heap.
God bless Rhianna Pratchett
Rhianna Pratchett is the daughter of Terry Pratchett (Rest in Peace). That is name that carries a massive amount of prestige behind it, even more so in fantasy circles. Fortunately, Rhianna Pratchett appears to have inherited her father’s talent and I wish I knew about her sooner. Fellowship of Evil successfully carries over the black, dry British wit that made the series what it is. I love the conversations between Gnarl and Ricket, how they bicker, and chatter about their evil plans (and persistent failures). I love how the goodies are portrayed as dopes. So sickeningly sweet and wholesome that it makes me want to vomit.
Rhianna Pratchett succeeds in twisting conventional fantasy tropes until they are so abnormal that you can’t wait to kill the goodie two shoes. You want the bad guys to win because (unlike the good guys) they have the cool stuff. They have the spiky thrones and hellfire forges. Everything upstairs is in a state of permanent smiles and bliss (which is boring). Rhianna Pratchett does an excellent job of deconstructing and finding the inherent absurdity one expects from a writer like Terry Pratchett. I just wish it was in a better game.
They speak well
The voice acting has noticeably improved. One of the problems I remember having with the original Overlord was the flat voice acting. Here, it is expressive and deliciously over the top. I think what helps sell the writing this time is how well Gnarl and Ricket are voice acted. I cannot find which voice actors voice which characters. But they do add a spark that was I do not remember being there in the original. I laughed, I chuckled at the banter these two had. They sound like brother and sister competing to be the evilest and it's funny as all heck.
Do you know Diablo? Whom am I kidding, of course, you do! Congratulations! You have already played the game! In all seriousness, Fellowship of Evil is every top down online RPG you have ever played, from the different classes (we will get into that later) to the top-down isometric camera and the token upgrades. The only (so-called) unique selling point is the minions. But that is not a good selling point what so ever. Fellowship of Evil might have been a good game if it wasn’t such a sh*t show.
Smash that hit button
Fellowship claims to have four classes, but in reality, there are two. Ranged and melee, even then, the combat is exceedingly simplistic and mindless. Every class has a massive damage attack that knocks people back. There is no strategy as most of the time the enemy is dead or close to it. Combat instead devolves into button mashing, only broken up by using the massive damage knockback button. Milady has a tiny (emphasis on the word tiny) bit of strategy as she has the option to charge up her wand for a powerful attack. But the job can be done by spamming the attack button anyway. As a result, the game is incredibly boring. That is in of itself damning, but what makes it even worse is how incompetent everything else is.
That stupid magic grass
The Golden is a magic grass that turns everything it touches into cute and wholesome personifications of vomit-inducing tweeness. That on paper sounds perfect for the Overlord series and could have worked. The problems however are twofold. One is the stupid AI of the minions (we will be getting to that by the way). And the way the level with the stupid magic grass is designed.
As you have no control over your dumb minions and the levels being as small and cramped as they are. You will more often than not have to fight your minions when they wander into the grass like the cretins they are. The game is punishing you for using it' unique selling point s because more often than not they will step onto the vaguest outlines of the idiotic grass and turn. The levels are punishing you for using the minions through no fault of your own.
AI and minions: A series of botched lobotomies
I think I have made it abundantly clear that the AI is as dumb as a pile of rocks. Not only will they run into the grass without any input from you, but they can also kill themselves on the scenery. I have watched all my minions die because of a corner. They are always getting stuck in animations, in the walls (and sometimes floors). Unlike in previous entries ( where you could micromanage your minions extensively), control has been watered down into single button presses and piss poor puzzle solutions. These puzzles involve you selecting the correct minion and commanding them to sit on the pressure plate. That is it. So even when Fellowship of Evil’s unique selling point isn’t being completely useless it is being a burden on the player. The minions are grossly underused as a mechanic.
The enemies are not much better either in all honesty. The mages have the attention spans of hummingbirds and the intelligence of dazed toads. They keep running in circles and into walls, only sometimes attacking before getting stuck again. Sometimes the melee-focused will get suck in a single attack animation, repeating it over and over again until I get an easy victory. The AI is so bloody broken I feel embarrassed.
The final level
I have to confess that I didn’t get partially far into Fellowship of Evil. But that is on no fault of my own, it is because of all the problems mentioned previously and a key factor, the inability to respawn your mentally handy-capped minions. It was in act one where I had to terrorize a town (I am evil after all). You spawn in a with a set amount of minions (four of each). The problem is that if you spawn in all your minions at the start, they will kill themselves.
Once that happens there is no way to get back your minions. Even if your little devils have the preservation instincts of lemmings they are still required to balance the game, be it healing or offering nukes. With them gone and with no means of getting them back I found myself against a brick wall. All my minions die before the wave is over and I get to start it all over again with none of them! As a result, I have been forced to call it quits as I simply can't continue with the game.
Art style and Graphics:
In 2015 we had such beautifully stylish titles as City: Skylines, Undertale, SOMA, and Pillars of Eternity. You will note that I listed Indies, not AAA (because it would be unfair). But all of those titles looked a hell of a lot better. Textures are flat, lighting is functional and coloring is bizarrely murky. Everything seems made out of plastic and unreal.
If you try to matchmake (good luck with that) you cannot interact with anything. The game doesn't react to any button input period. I cannot even exit the game without alt-tabbing out and closing it. No wonder the servers are deader than an MC Hammer comeback tour, players cannot play the game after they try to play the sodding game. Oh, Fellowship of Evil also freezes every time a new encounter starts. And let's not forget that in the death animation for minions and enemies, the models would just stand there looking stupid. I have fallen through the floor at least once, enemies have spawned in, and froze. Sometimes getting stuck in animations. The list of bugs and glitches just goes on and on.
Rhianna Pratchett is a supremely talented writer. Her story deserves a better game. The Overlord series should have been given better. The players deserve so better. Everyone should have gotten something of higher quality. Overlord: Fellowship of Evil is a failure in almost every single way. I am extremely embarrassed for the devs who made this shambling, amateurish nightmare of a game.
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