The successfully funded Kickstarter project Armello is a game with many layers. It’s a fantasy board game peppered with features of an RPG, with a bit of card game mixed in. Armello blends all of these features extremely well, and creates an enchanting experience, but could use improvement on the social aspect of the game.
During the first playthrough of Armello there may seem to be a lot going on, and the rules or the objectives may not be clear. Luckily the prologue for Armello is a great tutorial that teaches you all the ins and outs of the game, so be sure to not skip through and try to wing it. The basis of the game is to save the kingdom of Armello while competing to do so against 3 other heroes. There are 8 heroes to choose from, a variety of animals with different skill sets and perks. You guide your hero from tile to tile, completing quests, gaining prestige, gold, and skills, until you feel you’re stacked enough to win the game. You will also have a hand of cards to assist you on your journey. There are over 120 different cards in Armello, and you will randomly draw cards throughout the game. These cards can be equippable items to boost battle stats, spell cards to benefit your hero or damage an opponent, or rare treasure cards from exploring dungeon tiles. These cards each have a different cost to play, whether its prestige, magic, or gold. Unwanted cards can also be burned in battle to give either an attack or defense point.
Scattered across the Armello kingdom are a variety of different landscape tiles. Each type of tile has a different effect, some tiles will heal you, while others will damage you. Settlement tiles will give you gold each day if you claim them, and dungeon tiles will give you a random reward when you explore them. Forest tiles will provide you stealth at night, while mountain tiles use up 2 moves to climb. Tiles on the board can be marked with Peril, and if a player lands on a Peril tile they must roll a certain combination of dice in order to defeat it, or else they suffer whatever consequences are attached to that tile. Certain tiles will also spawn Bane, which are dark dragon-like creatures that attack heroes that get too close. One of the drawbacks to Armello is there is only one game board, and the tiles are in the same locations every game. Randomly generated boards would have added a bit extra appeal to Armello.
There are four paths to victory, some being a whole lot easier than others. The most common ways to win a round of Armello are to kill the king, or have the most prestige by the end of the 9 days. This is because every player does their own thing. Each player has their own set of quests that other players cannot see, so most of the game is spent crossing paths with other heroes and not interacting. Of course you can choose to attack other players if you feel confident in taking them down, with the loser of the battle being sent back to their starting point.
When you feel brave enough to take on the king, you must defeat an overwhelming peril tile inside of the kingdom’s walls. Once inside the kingdom’s walls you are likely to get attacked by the king’s guards before getting a shot at the king. These obstacles are very challenging to complete in succession, and one hiccup will send you scurrying out of the kingdom and having to try it all over again. This makes the kingslayer victory one of the hardest ways to win.
Much like a real life board game, Armello games can take an extremely long time. Single player games aren’t so bad, but when playing an online multiplayer game the pacing can be really sluggish. Waiting for other players to make their moves seems like an eternity, although there is an inactivity timer. There is also no way to communicate with online players, unless of course you use the PS4’s party chat. An in-game chat feature would have greatly improved Armello‘s online play, and make the game more social like a board game should be.
Despite its lack of variety for game boards and social features, Armello is a very entertaining mash up of board, card, and RPG games. A simple patch or downloadable content could easily remedy some of the small issues that plague Armello, but until then it is a great game to experience with 3 other friends on party chat.
Armello Playstation 4 code was provided by League of Geeks