Game Review: Armello
League of Geeks began an adventure to merge the worlds of RPGs, board games, card games, and video games and have manifested the wondrous fairy tale game called Armello.
Steeped in a theme of animal based heroes adventuring for the throne in medieval times, Armello easily achieves the one thing that many games lack, character. With a beautifully colorful art style that is enhanced with gorgeous animations of everything from the game pieces to the cards that are picked, played and equipped, Armello achieves that first step of drawing you into its world. This is further achieved by a well orchestrated soundtrack that captures the intrigue and conflict played out in this game.
Simply put, this game is a lot of fun. The story is centered around a kind that is inflicted with a dark ‘Rot’ that is corrupting his mind, his health, and the kingdom. Four heroes from the surrounding kingdom all vie for a way to save the land. This is achieved by inheriting the throne, slaying the king, or curing the king. The first way is done by allocating a stat called ‘Prestige’. You gain Prestige by slaying evil Bane creatures, questing, and defeating other characters. The second way seems easy enough but the king is both protected by guards and has quite a bit of bonuses, equipment, and protections that make him a handful on the battleground. The last way is to cure the king. This is done by collecting four spirit stones that appear randomly throughout the board or by questing. Of course, you must choose your course of action quickly as the other heroes are doing the exact same thing as you.
As I played this lovely little game, the boardgame aspect of the experience was easy to see. Hexagonal spaces with different icons for towns, mountains, ruins, forests, and more all separate all of the characters from the castle and king in the center of a relatively small board. Though small, it provides just enough space for characters to adventure alone and relatively quickly encounter each other and foes such as the Bane. Adding to the replayability of the game, these various tiles are randomized each time which provides another layer to making this an exciting game.
In a way, the card game aspect makes sense as you keep a small deck of cards in your ‘hand’ to equip your character or to use as spells. Each of these cards do come with a cost though. Some are simple and cost money or magic. Others may lead you down a ‘dark’ path where you become poisoned by the same rot that plagues the king. Make too many ‘dark’ choices and you will become Corrupted. At this point, you will have great dark power but will also be constantly damaged by the sun and killed if you enter certain parts of the board.
The RPG aspect of this game is exhibited by the various attributes of each of the characters. Some are better at escaping traps and trickery while others are better at melee battles and/or magic. Each character has a special ability and can be equipped with stat boosting jewelry at the beginning of each game that can alter the way you choose to play each character. With 8 characters to choose from hailing from 4 different animal clans, this is the portion of the game that provides a reasonable portion of the strategy depth that brilliantly accompanies the simple pick-up-and-play aspect of the game. Also, as you win or lose, you are completing challenges that unlock more jewelry (and who knows, maybe even more characters) to use either in solo or online multiplayer matches.
Armello is a perfect example of how board games can be enhanced by the digital space!