2021 is the perfect time for a game where you play as a supervillain like Lex Luthor, Evil Genius 2: World Domination Producer Ash Tregay tells Inverse. Managing every aspect of an ever-expanding villainous empire has never been more in style, and it's thanks in no small part to the mainstream appeal of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“The kinds of things that I would quietly consume and enjoy in free time when I was back in school are much more part of the mainstream now,” Tregay tells Inverse. “We have a much broader potential audience there to draw from.”
By the time the Infinity Saga wrapped up in Avengers: Endgame, gamers were more prepared than ever before for subversive experiences involving superheroes, perhaps ones that instead focus on villains rather than the heroes. Even shows like The Boys have primed us to think less of superheroes. In the 16 years since the original Evil Genius, the climate has changed for the better.
Evil Genius 2 from Rebellion Developments is a real-time management sequel to a 2004 cult classic. Pulling from both James Bond and comic-book inspirations, you play as one of four “Evil Genius” supervillains with maniacal machinations trying to take over the world. In 2021, not only is the game’s comic book genre more popular, but management games have seen a renaissance as well.
When Rebellion saw the management genre become more popular again thanks to games like Jurassic World Evolution and got the right developer team together, they decided to make a sequel.
Developers Ash Tregay and Rich Edwards, who Inverse spoke to after playing an early build of the game, have deemed the game’s tone and genre “spy-fi.” Players build up a base, defend it from a superhero team called the “Forces of Justice,” and jumpstart schemes around the world to eventually achieve world domination.
Playing the tutorial and opening hours of Evil Genius 2: World Domination makes it clear that the sequel will feel both familiar to fans of the series and welcoming to newcomers. While James Bond’s No Time to Die and many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies might be pushed out of 2021, Evil Genius 2 will give you your fill of supervillain schemes this March.
“World domination doesn’t happen overnight.”
The demo Inverse played featured the tutorial and earliest hours of the game with one of the evil geniuses Maximillian. The closest thing the series has to a mascot, this cartoonish supervillain feels like a mashup of Lex Luthor’s intensity and Dr. Evil’s over-the-top personality. He has special abilities, but these aren’t as important in the early parts of the game.
The early hours of Evil Genius 2 are spent learning the ropes and building out your base. You’ll have to set up a vault to store your gold, barracks for your minions to sleep in, generators to power your base, and more. If you enjoy games like Two Point Hospital that emphasize building effectively and efficiently, then you’ll also enjoy Evil Genius 2.
For players of the original, pretty much everything will be as you remember it. The developers have taken steps to enhance base building while also making the game more friendly to newcomers.
Tregay has one important piece of advice for new players: “World domination doesn't happen overnight.” He thinks new players often expand and overexert themselves too early in management games like Evil Genius 2, and recommends that players take their time and iterate their base as they slowly expand their operation and defend it from the pesky superheroes and spies from the Forces of Justice.
The game’s intuitive building tools give players all the necessary options to customize a room or change its function easily. Tregay also has a helpful tip for players who want to maximize the effectiveness of their base: Don’t segment everything into individual rooms.
You can craft your whole base as one room, and you can see more effective results by combining separate rooms. As much as this game is about taking over the world, you’ll also want to spend a lot of time making sure your base looks good and runs efficiently. It’s the true supervillain experience.
While there are pitfalls that new players can run into, Evil Genius 2 is accessible to anyone thanks to a thorough tutorial and clear mission structure. There are story missions, side missions, and optional objectives so players will always have a clear goal to work towards.
“Shoot them, you idiots!”
Calling back to the classic James Bond and comic book villains that inspired the game, the developers used what they called a “Shoot them you idiots!” paradigm when designing the game.
“You are the genius and want a lair, but you're not going to be the person who goes out there and digs it yourself. You're going to make sure that this stuff gets done for you,” Lead Designer Rich Edwards tells Inverse. “It's about making sure that you have the big picture and that the minions sort out the minutiae of that allowing you to focus your attention wherever you want.”
That also explains why the focus mostly stays at your base of operations, with the high-level Schemes being less involved missions that you can throw money towards on the world map.
Eventually, your Schemes will catch the attention of the Forces of Justice, who will investigate your base. While there is a casino operation to serve as cover, most agents will make their way further into the base. At that point, you’ll want to divert your minions to fight the Forces of Justice agents and prevent them from finding the evidence that could lead to your arrest.
The Forces of Justice are easily defeated in the early game, but these situations seem like they could get more complex in the late game as more powerful agents are sent to your base, you hire crime bosses to patrol your base, and you set up more traps to stop them. The simplicity of these early sections is to be expected, but it provides a solid foundation to expand the experience over time.
While you might not be the one actually killing the Forces of Justice and completing these schemes, your supervillain is the one that will take all the credit for it. All of this plays into the supervillain fantasy that Evil Genius adeptly achieves. Lots of games let you control the hero, but this one lets you succeed and feel satisfied as to the villain. After a film like Avengers: Infinity War let Thanos win, a game like this seems even more fitting.
If you want to “enjoy dominating the world in a guilt-free environment,” as Tregay describes it, not many games let you do that as Evil Genius 2 does.
Evil Genius 2: World Domination will be released for PC on March 30, 2021.