Overlord: Escape from Nazarick is a new game based on the popular isekai anime/light novel series—this review will see if it did its source material justice.
The game is a Metroidvania/action platformer released on the Nintendo Switch and PC via Steam. Note that this review is based on the Steam version of Overlord: Escape from Nazarick.
Sadly, if you haven’t watched Overlord or read its light novel, you’ll need to do that first. The game literally skips any sort of introduction or explanation behind who the characters are and assumes that you’re already familiar with them. The characters will also mention and make reference to characters outside of the game. Sorry, non-Overlord fans!
Then again, there barely is any story at all. Not only is the game not canon, the story is about as in-depth as the original Super Mario Bros. from 1983. After a short cutscene which is essentially a 2D pixel animated retelling of the events of Overlord season 1 episode 9, you’ll be thrust into your one and only goal throughout the game—escape the Great Tomb of Nazarick as Clementine.
Not only will you learn basically nothing about Clementine, you’ll also won’t know anything about the bosses you encounter, even though you always have a conversation with them before the fight. Considering that Overlord is a series that’s praised for its story, it feels weird and off that the game is so barebones when it comes to that department.
The game uses 2D pixel art, which isn’t a problem. The animations are also fine and Clementine moves pretty fluidly. The biggest offense I take with the game is how horribly unoptimised the visuals are on PC. Just look at the font:
While the game isn’t demanding on the PC, this is the first non-RPG Maker/fan game which I played that doesn’t let you change the resolution of the game. It only lets you select fullscreen or windowed mode. As a result, the game looks like it’s in 720p being stretched on my 15-inch laptop screen.
Another big issue with the game’s presentation, especially if you are a fan of Overlord—almost no voice acting. The only person who has a voice in the game is Clementine, and even then, her voice only consists of sound effects when you use spells, get damaged, etc. Everywhere else, like cutscenes or dialogue with other characters, it’s just text and 2d pixel art (not even a nice illustration).
As mentioned earlier in this review, Clementine moves pretty fluidly in Overlord: Escape from Nazarick. She moves and reacts to commands responsively, as any good platformer should. As an Overlord fan, I enjoyed how Clementine’s abilities were translated from the anime to the game, such as how Flow Acceleration, a Martial Art in the anime which allows the user to move their body faster, is an ability that lets the player slow down time in the game. Sadly, this is the only positive thing about the gameplay that I have.
On Steam, the game is advertised as a Metroidvania, but it barely counts as one. This is because of how incredibly linear the map design is. In almost any other Metroidvania, the maps are large and interconnected between its different biomes, forcing players to travel back with new abilities to unlock new stuff. However, Overlord: Escape from Nazarick is essentially just a long hallway with few detours and dead ends. In other Metroidvania titles, exploration is very important because it’s easy to miss hidden rooms or items. But in this game, it’s so hard to miss anything because the map design is so linear.
Also, another issue that Metroidvania veterans will probably agree with me—the game is too easy. There are 3 difficutly settings—Easy, Normal and Hard. I played on Hard mode and the game still felt too easy. The normal enemy encounters are a joke. The only times I died are during boss battles or in some annoying rooms with traps. Metroidvania/action platformers shouldn’t be this easy, even more so since there are multiple difficulty modes.
This is the first time I ever dedicated an entire section to this in a review, but boy oh boy was I not expecting Overlord: Escape from Nazarick to have the honours. Not only are the game’s graphics not optimised on PC as mentioned earlier, the controls suffer from this issue as well.
Upon booting the game on Steam for the first time, I was stuck on the title screen for a good 10 minutes. I could move up and down as I highlight “New Game” or “Options”, but left-clicking or hitting Enter doesn’t do anything. Turns out that the game went with the most RPG Maker-like controls possible by fixing the “Confirm” function to the Z key.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the game’s default controls are a lost cause. Just have a look:
To show how counterintuitive these controls are, the dash button is assigned to the “3” key. The player’s fingers are already on the WASD keys for movement, so how is the player expected to hold the 3 key while moving Clementine at the same time? Granted, most of the game’s keys (except movement for some reason), can be reassigned, but whoever came up with the default keybindings for Overlord: Escape from Nazarick deserve to actually be trapped in the Great Tomb of Nazarick.
As both an Overlord fan and a Metroidvania fan, Overlord: Escape from Nazarick disappointed me on both fronts. As part of the Overlord IP, I seriously wonder why they didn’t give us more fanservice like having all of the Floor Guardians (No Demiurge! C’mon!) or at the very least, giving voices to the characters already in the game.
Then, as a Metroidvania fan, the game is so barebones and easy that it’s not engaging at all. The only redeeming part about this game is how Clementine operates, but other than that, I really cannot recommend getting Overlord: Escape from Nazarick.
|Clementine’s abilities from the anime are translated well into gameplay||Atrociously optimised for PC|
|Extremely barebones Metroidvania gameplay|
|Does a bad job at explaining the series to non-fans, yet does an equally bad job at fanservice|