This game is dirty trash water.
Format: PC (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Released: October 19, 2015
Copy supplied by Steam
The Overlord series had its fair share of problems, but I always maintained a soft spot for it. A fairly messy and unpolished set of games, its status as a comically dark Pikmin gave it a special kind of charm, and I found both the original and its sequel vastly entertaining.
Overlord: Fellowship of Evil has no charm, and is far from entertaining. The only interesting thing about it is the compulsion one has to question just what the hell Codemasters was thinking when it signed off on this derivative, repetitive shambles.
Ditching the original series’ premise altogether, Fellowship of Evil is a cheap Diablo knock-off with vague allusions to Overlord‘s fundamentals. Playing as one of four resurrected evildoers, your job is to button-mash from one end of a level to another, engaging in combat so simplistic and monotonous it makes Dynasty Warriors look like The Talos Principle.
Combat generally involves smashing your attack buttons until everything is dead. While there are defensive options (two of the antiheroes get a shield, while the other two can dodge), they’re ineffective at dealing with the endless onslaught of blows. The only real way of fighting is summoning blue minions to constantly heal you while you keep brainlessly attacking.
Protagonists are split between ranged and melee combatants, and I have a hard time deciding which method of fighting is worse. Melee is a true matter of attrition, as you stand there flailing with your poorly animated blade swings and the enemies do the same – weaponry silently slicing through each other’s spectral bodies. Ranged fire involves a little more strategy as you try to maintain distance, but the repetitive, slow-paced firing and alienating lack of audiovisual feedback just leaves one feeling distant and cold.
In an odd twist, however, ranged fighters are distinctly more powerful than their close-range counterparts. They’re tiresome to play as, but at least they have survivability.
In a weak nod to Overlord, you get to summon minions, though you no longer command them. Once summoned, they behave autonomously, which is a terrible idea because their A.I. appears to have been coded by chimpanzees. The minions get stuck on random bits of floor, sometimes disappear altogether, and they’re terrible at fighting. The only useful minions are the blue ones, which stick with the player and heal them, though enemies deliberately target them first and they perish to a single blow.
Perhaps the worst part of using minions is the “Golden.” Some levels are covered in verdant fields of flowers and plants that deal continuous damage to the player upon contact. When minions touch it, they turn “good” and start attacking their former master. Because the A.I. pathfinding is a pile of dogshit, minions frequently – and by that I mean constantly – run into the Golden and get converted into enemies.
It turns the game’s sole defining factor into a goddamn liability, as levels with Golden ensure minions are little more than a stockpile of extra enemies.
The game clearly hasn’t been balanced for solo play. Enemies come in swarms to surround a lone player, and survival comes down to whether or not you’re lucky enough to spawn enough blue minions to survive. Playing on one’s own is a horrible experience, made worse by some of the worst checkpointing I’ve seen in a long time.
Battles are as lengthy as they are repetitive, as champion enemies appear in nearly every encounter, boasting more weapon soak than Scarface.
This lack of balance is a real problem because the game, being rubbish, seems to be completely devoid of potential online partners. My attempts to find anybody else playing it have resulted in failure, leaving me alone to face combat designed for multiple allies. It’s doable if you get lucky – like I said, survival is based purely on stumbling upon blue minion pickups – but it’s not fun. Not even vaguely fun.
The whole summoning system is complete crap. You have to pick up colored cubes to summon the minions you need, though you can only store a limited amount. These cubes drop randomly in battle, meaning that if you need some healing, you’re relying on pure chance to get it. You can carry only two cubes per color until you upgrade your capacity, severely limiting your ability to build an army.
With no special attacks or skill trees, and a linear upgrade path for weapons, minions, and player characters, Fellowship of Evil feels like the most stripped down version of an action-RPG you could hope to find. Everything about it is formulaic, regurgitating, and interminably dreary. I played about as much as I could stand, and I’ll be perfectly honest with you – I could barely stand the damn thing at all.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a series in a new direction, and there’s certainly room in this world for spin-offs. However, the fact that this can’t be called a “true” Overlord game isn’t Fellowship of Evil‘s problem. The problem is that it’s complete and utter garbage.
It feels so very cheaply made. It runs terribly with frequent framerate issues, the minion’s behavioral patterns are completely busted, visuals and sound effects are distinctly lacking in impact, and the whole grisly carnival looks ugly to boot.
As an Overlord fan, I find this incredibly saddening. It’s a depressing, dismal little mockery of the series it claims to be part of. It’s an action-RPG for people who have literally never played an action-RPG before. Actually, if you’ve never played a videogame before, you might be able to enjoy this. I feel that’s about the only way to glean entertainment from the damnable thing.
This could have been good. A dungeon crawler in the Overlord universe has some promise, but there’s just nothing here. No satisfying loot drops. No expanding combat ability. Nothing but braindead, horrifically designed combat. Oh, and a few utterly insipid pressure-plate puzzles. Because those are always fun.
I fucking hate it.
That is what I’m trying to say.