“I AM THE WATCHER ON THE WALL: REDWALL, THAT IS”
League of Geeks’ gorgeous role-playing strategy game, Armello, is, most likely, the closest that we will ever get to venturing out in a Redwall-inspired world. As a huge fan of the Redwall series as well as Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, I found this game to be a perfect collection of the essences of whimsical fantasy and grim tales of daring adventure in a dying land.
Armello is played out through a series of quests chosen by the player. Each quest is linked to a skill that the player must roll a dice for when completing the quest and the reward item the player is seeking. Beneath these quests is the underlying story of the throne. Players win by either defeating the King of Armello, using spirit stones to cleanse the throne, or having the highest prestige when the King dies of Rot. In Armello, Rot disease slowly kills the King as well as players who contract Rot points. As with most role-playing games, the true adventure comes from how much you allow yourself to feel like a part of the world. On the surface, the story can be ignored and you are left with a well-made digital boardgame. At the heart of Armello, you find a land of dark beings struggling for control against a King’s Guard, while a slew of adventurers mingle by chance on their way to a grand prize.
On the note of adventurers, Armello initially has a few very unique characters with differing playstyles. Since early access release back in September of 2012, the game has doubled its cast of characters. From the wielder of the Wyld to the raider of tombs to the noble swordsman, Armello covers everything you may want to play as on a fantasy adventure (save baker and basket weaver, perhaps). Each character handles differently from the next due to stat changes and special abilities of their class. Two examples of these are the Sword Master and Huntress. The Sword Master can use Sword cards during combat to pierce armor. The Huntress does one damage before initiating combat.
A key mechanic of Armello is the prestige system. Players gain prestige through their deeds and, at times, by luck. The player with the highest prestige gets to choose from two cards that will vastly change the game for everyone. These choices are made at the end of each turn (one day and one night cycle). These choices can remove everyone’s gold or force them to swap their cards at random. They make prestige a powerful asset of gameplay.
Another key mechanic of Armello is the cards used throughout the game. Cards act as your items, spells and traps. They can be played to further yourself or hold back your foes. Cards can be burned, a form of discarding, while in combat to give you bonuses to your attack or defense. Each card corresponds to a symbol on the dice which guarantees that roll on a dice when burnt. The combat system, as much of Armello, takes some getting use to and you shouldn’t expect victory on the first try. The new prologue to the game allows you to ease into a real match and learn the mechanics as you go.
Among Armello’s amazing features is the unique art style and music in the game. Armello has one of the greatest musical scores I’ve yet to find in a game. The menu music snares the player into the game and prepares them for the journey ahead. During play, the music shifts with the events of the game. The music sets the mood in conjunction with the game’s lovely art style.
The Verdict: 9.5 out of 10
Armello is a must play. It has a vast array of elements that will appeal to nearly every gamer in the world. It is highly replayable and entices you to try each of its characters at least once. Matches take anywhere from twenty to forty minutes and at eight characters each, you can easily get up to five hours out of the game just trying each character. The randomness of the game rewards trying new things and tempts you to return. What do you mean my perfect plan from last match was thwarted on turn two? It is the connection to the world that Armello is set in that truly makes the game great. The game still has some quirks to work out, but the diligence League of Geeks has shown will certainly be proof of their continued love and development of Armello.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.