Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
Armello Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Although let down by some technical issues, Armello is one of this year's most addictive multiplayer games. Taking inspiration from Game of Thrones, this is a board game filled with murder, betrayal and power plays. Can you say that about Chutes & Ladders? Rating: 85%
Armello Armello Armello Armello
  • Review Score:

  • A-
Between the political intrigue and unexpected deaths, I can't get enough of Game of Thrones. It's a soap opera filled with epic sword fights, villainous characters and three badass dragons. In fact, just about the only thing I don't love about Game of Thrones is that it's not an actual game. Sure, Telltale and Cyanide Studios both took stabs at adapting the medieval world to modern video game consoles, but those don't scratch the itch. When I watch the show's memorable opening, I can't help but pine for a deep, engaging Game of Thrones board game.

Apparently League of Geeks agreed, as they've spent the last five years crafting an involving board game that will make you forget all about the fate of Jon Snow. Using adorable animals to tell a twisted tale of death and disease, Armello takes everything we love about Game of Thrones and mashes it into one of the best video game tabletop experiences I've ever had.

For a game with so many moving parts, Armello has a surprisingly simple set-up. The King has been corrupted by an evil force known as the Rot. It's slowly killing him and threatens to plunge the entire region into chaos. To avoid this from happening, representatives from eight anthropomorphic animal classes have set out to become the new king.

Each hero plays into their animal stereotypes. Mercurio is a sneaky rat, Brun is devastatingly destructive bear and Amber the bunny is full of boundless curiosity. The eight characters have unique weapons and attributes that will change the way you approach each turn. The goal may be the same, but the eight heroes couldn't be any more different.

Armello is set on a large playing field that has been filled in with several types of tiles. Some spaces are harmful and will injure the player, while the next one over may be a shrine that heals the hero. Mountain tiles take two moves to reach, but will increase defense. On the other hand, there are forest sections that will conceal your location from the other players.

Armello (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Like most traditional role-playing games, Armello is all about solving quests. You'll choose from three that are scattered throughout the world, forcing the player to make the long trek to complete the mission. Doing this will not only add rare and valuable cards to your deck, but also give the player prestige points. This is your ticket to controlling the board and eventually dethroning the king.

The objective isn't always as easy as it seems. There are several ways of winning, including the direct and murderous approach. The King's days are numbered, so it's only a matter of turns before he runs out of health and the hero with the most prestige takes over. Players can also win by collecting 4 Spirit Stones and banishing the King, but that usually involves a lot of luck.

Before thinking about the endgame, our heroes will spend their time scouring the land for new cards. There are 128 different cards in total, each fitting into six unique classes. Some will temporarily boost the player's attributes, while others can have an ill-effect on the opponents. There are also item cards that can be equipped to our hero, giving them an advantage in combat.

Armello (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Speaking of which, fights are won and lost by the roll of the dice. Players can improve their chances by using cards, but the fate is ultimately decided when both sides make their rolls. We do this using the DualShock 4's touchpad, which is an inspired use of Sony's gimmicky technology. The fight concludes with an intense battle between players, which could send our hero all the way back to the starting point.

By this point you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by all of the moving pieces. I don't blame you, there's a lot to take in. But the truth is, we're only scratching the surface. I haven't even brought up the day/night cycle or how the King can change the rules through his decrees. There's a lot to take in, and it may not all click on your first play. However, thanks to a strong tutorial and constant reminders, it will only take a couple tries for all these moving parts to make sense. And before long, you'll be whipping around the world of Armello like a seasoned pro.

As a board game, League of Geeks gets everything right. The rules are air tight and the large variety of cards ensures you'll have a new experience every single time. Best of all, it's actually fun. There are constantly things to be doing to improve your standings, even when you're waiting for everybody else to take their turns. While not exactly fast-paced, Armello moves along quickly and is never boring.

Armello (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Unfortunately, the video game elements aren't as rock solid as the board game. The biggest problem is the text size, which can be nearly invisible at times. It's clear that this game was designed for people sitting in front of a computer monitor, not console gamers lounging on a couch several feet from the screen. Even with a large TV and minimal distance, I had a hard time reading a lot of the details.

The lack of local multiplayer options is also disappointing. While the game is jammed pack with online potential, I can imagine it being especially exciting at home with a group of friends. That is, after all, the biggest selling point for tabletop games, and Armello loses something by not having it as an option.

Don't let the simple look and adorable characters fool you, this is a deadly serious game filled with murder, betrayal and power plays. It's not only one of this year's most addictive multiplayer experiences, but also one of the best video board games I've played since Culdcept. Best of all, in the world of Armello, winter is still a long ways off.
comments powered by Disqus