Just an Overlord by Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie – Short Story Review [Eroldren]
Eroldren continues his spotlight review over Blizzard’s Heart of the Swarm short story series.
“Surprisingly a touching story that shows the Zerg Swarm’s most benign creature becoming a unexpected yet sympathetic enemy for terran marines to find themselves contested with.” – The Founding Fields
You wouldn’t expect that someone could write an intriguing story surrounding Overlord, let alone ever getting into the mind of one. Where was there to do with an Overlord? How can one make them terrifying? In multiplayer the most I’ve seen them used are the standard early map scouting and perhaps raid transport droppings. Other than that they kinda just sit off to the side as harmless things you need to spawn to increase one’s supply count. Except Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie meet the challenge. And with a little background lore being elaborated upon he created a rather fascinating tale told from both sides.
It was supposed to be an easy assignment: take a squad of recruits out to the ruins of Tarsonis, make camp at the abandoned Ghost Academy, and play war games for a few weeks to prep the recruits for combat. With Kerrigan out of the picture, the zerg are just mindless animals, hardly a threat to Dominion marines… right? As Meatbag Squadron is about to find out, even the supposedly most harmless zerg can be a terrifying enemy.
First off I would like to say is that this short story has fallen back to featuring the zerg with an Overlord as the main highlight of interest. There are still enough of other zerg units to promote in this ongoing Heart of the Swarm short story series outside the Big Four while perhaps dabbling alongside the other new units given the terran and protoss races such as Tempests, Oracles, Hellbats, and Widow Mines etc.
Anyway with that aside, the first thing you’ll be reading in “Just an Overlord” is a strange introduction: we’re inside the alien mind of an overlord. At first it’s a little odd to comprehend this alien, “Green Eye’s” thought process but you’ll see there’s more to it as you continue reading the bulk of the story which largely follows an interesting cast in Meatbag Squadron.
From the familiar perspective of terrans, we enter the ruins of the old Ghost Academy that StarCraft readers might remember from Micky Neilson’s Uprising and Nova by Keith R. A. DeCandido. And I did pick up a couple references that dealt with the old place. As with Tarsonis itself generally speaking, we see a bit more of the changes in-depth that have happen to the world since Mengsk condemned the Terran Confederacy to the Zerg Swarm lured by planted psi-emitters and betraying Sarah Kerrigan. The Dominion now have expanded presence on Tarsonis as the short story’s blurb suggests beyond that of supervising salvage operations as “The Great Train Robbery” showed us in Wings of Liberty. Pirates roam the streets and feral Zerg are still aplenty since the events of Brood War years prior.
“Just an Overlord” was perfectly paced story laced with having enough zerg action, internal conflict between Meatbag Squadron. At the end of the day, I think this ought to be considered another new fan-favorite Blizzard has brilliantly produced.
But it wasn’t quite entirely perfect in my book. What did strike me odd that a marine recruit would know just about the historical background of the overlord. Informational and propaganda videos that the Dominion would show to their soldiers on the zerg and protoss threat was something I knew but that particular tidbit of information felt quite out of place coming out of recruit’s mouth verses what a xenobiologist or protoss specialist would be more privy of. It’s a minor complaint but nothing that really effect my overall positive reading experience with “Just an Overlord.”
Until next time, Overlord, are we.
Overall Verdict: 9/10