Evil Genius 2 asks ‘what kind of healthcare do minions need?’

If Gru taught us anything in Despicable Me, it was the importance of loyal minions. Evil Genius 2 inspired me to relish in that same belief.

Evil Genius 2 starts me off as the simplest of the four playable villains: Maximillion, the short, white, German, scar-ridden, monocle-wearing, Dr. Evil-looking asshole. I own a gorgeous private island fronting as a casino. But behind the façade, I’m working on building the greatest super-villain lair the world has ever seen.

Everything around me oozes with ‘60s vibes, from James Bond to Get Smart. I have rounded buildings all over my island, and the soundtrack features the blaring horns that evoke that classic Bond theme. As I mold this island to my will, I must also keep it a secret from pesky, do-gooder spies who want to ruin my world domination. And I’ll need minions, lots of them, to get it done.

What is Evil Genius 2?

What was once a dirt island is now a secret lair
Image: Rebellion

Evil Genius 2 is Zoo Tycoon for bastards, or as I prefer to call it, a healthcare simulator for Bond villains.

My evil lair starts out as mostly dirt, hallways, and a small vault to house my wealth. I only have direct control over my evil genius, Maximillion, and any right-hand evildoers I may recruit. I also have minions, who work on autopilot whenever I create a new construction project. When I’m ready to build, I choose the room type I want to add to my base, and use my mouse to paint over existing tiles or into the dirt. I place furniture, I add doors, and I add some plants to liven this new space up. And when I hit confirm, my legion of minions springs into action.

I can’t click on my minions to control their individual actions like I can with my genius. Instead, I just get to watch them scramble, turning my evil vision into an evil reality. They dig through walls, grab furniture from the helipad, and carve out my base like the little ants they are.

I use my minions for everything. I use them to staff my communications room or man the jail cells. I even send them on missions around the world to earn me cash — missions that they’ll never return from, while I reap the rewards. I can also train my minions to become guards to protect the base, scientists to research new evil technologies like stairs, or valets to run my fake casino. The best part of having minions is how easy it is to acquire new ones. If I send a minion on a mission or, say, publicly execute them for disappointing me, I’ll automatically recruit more minions within seconds.

But for an evil genius, I’m not without some understanding. As long as they’re alive on my payroll, they need food, rest, and some relaxing activities to keep them going. Not even a supervillain can expect a minion to perform evil deeds before they’ve had their coffee.

Caring for my minions is my true purpose in life

You can execute minions to keep the others in line
Image: Rebellion

In my time with Evil Genius 2, the game gave me several objectives like “bribe countries” or “kidnap scientists.” But all of this work requires minions in good health. So for all the time I spend planning my dastardly deeds, I also need to take time to pamper my minions. It became clear mid-way through the tutorial that while I could kill my minions, the better choice for me was to keep them happy and healthy so they’d do my bidding. And the farther I got in Evil Genius 2, the more I realized I actually wanted to build a minion utopia instead of giant lasers.

I may have my own room for evil deeds and a giant vault filled with my money, but you’d be surprised how much of that cash goes to taking care of the little guy. The more minions I get and the more work I put them through, the more draining the workload is on my minions’ mental — and occasionally physical — health. Suddenly I’ll need to expand my cafeteria to fit more workers, or I’ll need to build another TV pit for my minions to watch Minions in their limited offtime. Without these luxuries, even my most loyal followers will desert my cause and turn me over to world’s spy agencies. Managing their happiness was like trying to improve the lives of 100 Sims at once, and it was an awesome challenge.

When I started to engage with the actually villainy of Evil Genius 2, it pulled me away from the base-building aspects I enjoyed doing in-game — a problem that ultimately led me to re-downloading other management games instead of continuing with Evil Genius 2. I didn’t want to manage my global schemes to get cash or fend off waves of obnoxious Bond wannabees, because those systems felt more tedious than creative. I wanted to build out my base — for myself, of course, but also for my minions. I wanted more training centers, more beds, more lockers, more hospitals. But in order to get the resources to expand, I needed to engage with some of Evil Genius 2’s less-fun mechanics, which ultimately hurt my ability to progress forward on my minion paradise.

Evil Genius 2 does a lot right as a building and management game. You have a delightful amount of freedom to expand on any open space, and the game’s aesthetic is extremely charming. Not being able to control your minions makes for a fun challenge, as you really have to keep their stats up with luxury rooms if you want to get anything done. But Evil Genius 2 is also a solid reminder why villains in movies and games lose so often: When you don’t care for your minions, your minions won’t care for you.

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