|System: Wii||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Climax Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Codemasters||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 23, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Unfortunately, as the game wears on, it starts to feel like, after perfecting the template and tone, the development team ran out of time, money, and/or steam. Some of the environments are beautiful, especially for the Wii, with lots of detail and carefully considered color palettes; others lack visual punch and are prone to graphical hiccups like pop-in. Also, with so many abilities available, wed anticipated that Dark Legend would be the perfect game for either some mind-bending puzzles or some tough strategy battles (or both). Theres not a whole lot of either.
Apparently shooting for a casual audience, Dark Legends makers kept the challenge to a minimum. It takes about a full work day to finish the game, but it usually feels more like youre watching the tale unfold than like youre trying to accomplish a goal against significant odds. Some people will like being able to watch a game play out almost as if its a movie, others will like being free from frustration, and still others might be thrilled to find a title they can actually beat, but anyone looking for even a moderate challenge should look elsewhere. To us, it felt like an opportunity wasted. We understand that a game needs to be casual-accessible if its going to sell any copies on the Wii, but theres no reason to dumb something down quite this far.
An adjustable difficulty setting, with the current game labeled easy, would have worked wonders. It would have been simple enough to tweak some of the powers your character earns along the way. In addition to unlocking new kinds of minions, you level up minion groups, increase the number of total minions youre allowed to have, and learn magic spells. As it is, a minions death is a non-event, because it requires no effort to replace him (you just need to find a spawner and fork over some life energy, of which theres plenty). Making fresh underlings a scarce commodity on higher difficulty levels would have been a great way to make the game a tad tougher without losing the casual crowd.
All in all, Dark Legend gets a lot right, and as the Wii missed out on the well-reviewed original Overlord, gamers who own Wiis but no other gaming platforms should definitely give it a shot. The clever plot, the funny dialogue, and the ease of control all make for an experience worth having, and how does one say no to Pikmin with a touch of evil? On the other hand, Overlord newcomers who do have access to the original (360, PS3, PC) might want to start there, and those who already enjoyed that game might find themselves a little disappointed with Dark Legend.
CCC Freelance Writer