Armello

Armello is a tabletop-style computer game that blends the two genres together in a near perfect mix.

By Artemis, Posted 24 Sep 2015

Tabletop games and video games feel mutually exclusive to one another at times. Tabletop players often think that video games are too easy, and video game players think that tabletop games are too needlessly complex. What if there was a game that managed to keep the challenge of tabletop games, but presented it in a more straight-forward way for the main stream video game audience to understand? Well, you'd get Armello, a game funded by Kickstarter, put into early access and now fully available on Steam by the developer and publisher League of Geeks. It's as if the world famous Redwall books made a pact with Game of Thrones and decided to make a game, and its results are fascinating.

Armello world map

In the prologue of the game, which is optional but you should play it to learn all of the mechanics and the little nuances that are sprinkled throughout the game; you're told a story of a king becoming corrupted by a horrible cursed disease called the Rot. He starts acting uncharacteristically cruel for the kind king who united the four animal clans of Rabbits, Rats, Wolves and Bears, such as sending his guards out to randomly kill his subjects or summoning evil birds called Bane in order to cull the “rebellion” he sees in his mind. The king is slowly dying and one of other four clans must send a leader to take his place. From there you're playing a deadly board game to either claim your place as the next king or completely submit to the new rule of the better player. Each character has some established moments in dialogue in this prologue chapter and in the small description we are given of them, but otherwise there isn't much to know about them, they're pieces in your chess game for royalty, which is disappointing since there seems to be a lot more potential here than was actually used.

When it comes to gameplay, that's where Armello shines because it tries to make each and every experience unique so you'll never be playing the same game twice. You start out from the clan that you picked and you choose a quest. You can do this quest by moving across the game board to the appointed area, and there you can either choose to do a dangerous action or take the easy way out. If you take the easy way out then you'll complete the quest and gain prestige, but if you do the harder path, you'll be forced to play a game of chance, which might give you new items and more prestige. This game of chance isn't completely random since your success rates are based around your stats inventory and such, so you can turn the odds to your favor. At the beginning of each turn you're given the option to draw items, spells or tricks. Each can benefit your character in different ways, like giving them armor or chasing guards away from your point of interest. They're also a way of gaining more prestige for your overall goal. Prestige is the amount of points you gain to sway the king to your side, and if you lead in prestige you can advise the king to do actions you want him to do, potentially destroying the other players in the process. Gaining prestige one of the main ways you can win the game, along with gathering Spirit Stones, gaining more Rot than the king himself from various sources and becoming corrupted to kill the king, or just normal old killing the king. Each of these can be gained more efficiently by some characters than others, and it's up to you to figure out which characters are best at each strategy through trial and error or a guide online. Though you can figure it out through deduction from their skills, stats and abilities. Any character can do any role, but some excell slightly better at some roles than others.

Armello combat

This game can be played with a group of friends, or in single-player against a bunch of AIs. Each character has a passive ability and stats unique to them, but some passives are a lot better than others, and are banned in competitive play as a result. For example, River can deal one point of damage before she even has to roll her battle dice, which makes her a dangerous combatant. There have been complaints against this game that a lot of the characters appear broken in multiplayer, competitive play and while this is a valid complaint, the developers have been ironing this out since the games release in order to make it a more well-rounded experience. Multiplayer is a completely different game than single player and will be far more difficult which is something to keep in mind when getting into this game.The combat is dice-based, and you have to roll block dice to counter another player's hit dice. It's all random and while certain items do add and take away from that, you'll often enter a battle not knowing if you'll live or die which adds to the excitement of the game. The same thing goes with facing perils,which can come fromwhich is your character fighting against some mysterious invisible evil force that can be from a variety of souces; you don't know how you're going to get out of it, and while the cards certainly help you can still die and all your card usage was for naught. That's a massive part of the appeal of Armello; it works like an actual tabletop game and your fate is partially in the hands of the dice, giving the game a difficulty curve that correlates perfectly well with its mechanics.

Armello world map

When it comes to the bird-like creatures called Bane, those prove to be a nuisance more often than not. They're supposed to be, but it still gets a frustrating when they land on the area where your quest is. You can fight them, sure, but most of the time they'll kill your character if you're unlucky enough to not have just the right amount of weapons or armor equipped. Even then it's hard to beat them; they can render some players' games to a screeching halt because they'll just stay in an area forcing you to completely scrap your previous strategy try to gather up enough resources to kill them. Problem is, when they murder characters they become more powerful, and since the AI tend to kill themselves against these things, they become downright unstoppable. They ruin a lot of games and while they're not as much of a problem in multiplayer, they still can get to the point where they're just killing whatever fun you're having. They're the one gameplay element that if it was changed only slightly, like forcing them to fly around after a certain amount of turns, or getting the AI to stop feeding the Bane, it'd be a genuinely fun part of the game.

Armello is a tabletop-style computer game that blends the two genres together in a near perfect mix. While there are some rough patches here and there, it doesn't change that, if you like tabletop games and you want a video game that challenges you in a way you didn't think video games could, you should pick Armello up.

Angelina Bonilla, NoobFeed (@Twitter)

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General Information

Armello

89/100

Platform(s): Xbox One, PS4, PC
Publisher(s): League Of Geeks
Developer(s): League Of Geeks
Genres: Turn-Based Strategy
Themes: Strategy
Release Date: 2015-09-24

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