In my hunt for power I’d totally kill a King! I’m just being honest! (I’ve also probably found myself on a list somewhere for writing that statement). Thankfully Oz developers/publishers League of Geeks have created Armello and by proxy quenched my regicidal thirst. (You can take me off the list now!)
Armello is, put simply, a digital board game! You can hold your sighs and eye rolls until the end please! It draws on some of the best elements of adventure, strategy and rpg games out there! When I say it draws, I mean that! At no point, playing Armello does it feel like the game leans too heavily in anyone genre. It has at its heart a boardgame!
As a player, you’ll take on the role of a Hero in the land of Armello. The King has become poisoned by an encroaching darkness known only as ‘The Rot’. The condition impairs his judgement and his reign corrupted and twisted. A new ruler is needed and you have the chance to take the throne. To do so you’ll need to plot your move, play your hand and roll die against three competitors.
The game offers a prologue, an introduction into the core aspects of the game. You’ll get the chance to see how each facet works, the importance of working the deck and how to use the map. The game is played out on a randomly generated board made up of hexagonal tiles. Tiles range from plains to settlements, mountains to swamps and even dungeons. Your place on the board plays a big part. Too close to a dungeon? You’ll risk being attacked by a monster known as the ‘Bane’. On a mountain tile? You’ll spend two points to move but gain a boost to defence.
Armello plays a lot like a traditional board game. You’ll need to formulate a strategy then adapt according to how others are playing. Then adapt again if it all starts to go wrong! I was anxious to see if that feeling would carry across from tabletop to console but the developers capture it perfectly. On the subject of strategy there are four ways for your to achieve a win. You can amass enough power to kill the King and take his place. Amass enough prestige and hope the King dies before he’s killed. You can seek out ‘Spirit Stones’ and kill the King using their power. When all else fails though you can amass more ‘Rot’ points and seek the King out and crush him under your own evil.
As a turn based game, you’ll be able to play cards, trap enemy heroes and seek out quests and dungeons. Doing so will not only earn you equipment and treasure but prestige and boosts to base stats. All of which are essential towards the end of the game if you’re to keep your stake in the claim for power.
Gameplay is pretty easy to pick up, thanks to the prologue. You’ll probably spend more time reading card effects than gazing at their detailed animations which is a shame! Armello packs a surprising amount of gorgeous little details into each card, tile and character. Character animations are pretty and the same level is afforded to the world of the board and the animation in the various decks.
I’ve been playing the game for well over two weeks now. I’ve spent the majority of that time trashing and being trashed by the game’s AI. Where Armello falls down is its multiplayer. With no option to take the game to a group of friends, you’ll find yourself in a queue for limbo. While the developers can’t be blamed for long queues, the oversight for a local multiplayer leaves me somewhat unsatisfied. Nothing says ‘It’s been a great night of playing board games’ like friends leaving as bitter rivals! And that’s ultimately where Armello falls just short of capturing a true board game experience. The shared experience!
That said I’ve put in hours in playing the game even long after I’d formed my opinion of it. It’s done a lot right and with the news that DLC is on the way introducing new characters and equipment, I’m excited!
If you’re looking for a digital stab at a very traditional genre then you’ve found the treasure! Armello is a pretty adventure into the world of board gaming without ever having to open a box!
For more information on Armello and to stay current with updates check out the official website here!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!