Armello is doing its best to be of both worlds: an excellent video and board game. Recently, it has been released on Early Access on Steam. How is it shaping up so far? Armello has aroused interest since its Kickstarter from around a year or so ago as an interesting mixture of Redwall and Catan, two things that this writer personally cannot get enough of. One thing that stands out immediately from both the trailer and screenshots littered through this preview is how gorgeous it is. Make no mistake, and this is one pretty game with an art style that oozes personality and charm.
Armello - Soundtrack and Writing
The soundtrack is also quite lovely; at times, it sounds oddly personal and restrained in one moment, to giving the listener a feeling of exhilaration and freedom in the next. It perfectly captures the tone of a somewhat whimsical but also increasingly dangerous land. The rest of the sounds in the game are somewhat unremarkable compared to the soundtrack but do the job fine enough. The accompanied audio of each action played is perfectly suitable for what Armello is trying to accomplish. So far, there are no complaints about what Armello has to offer sound-wise.
In terms of writing, there really isn’t much to actually write about, aside from the fairy tail-esque (heh) beginning. The different cards adequately explain what the conditions do, along with an in-game guide in case you get stuck. It’s a little clunky right now, but given that this game is still months away from release, it’s understandable. However, it is still something worth mentioning however, along with some other gameplay-related quirks.
Armello - Gameplay
Don’t get me wrong, the gameplay of Armello is quite good, and anyone who enjoys board games in the slightest should take a long look at this game, but perhaps those who are interested should purchase this title later, closer to launch or at the launch itself. The reasoning for this is that while the core concepts of the game are there, it does seem a little rushed at the moment. Infrequent spelling errors, a few bugs, and a general lack of variable things to do… but before we go down too deep the confusion hole, let’s briefly summarize how this game is played.
Armello is a four-player game where each player is a different creature. Only four creatures are available at the moment, but there will be more available in the future. The creatures one can choose from right now are the Wolf, Bear, Hare, and Rat. Each creature gets a specific bonus or incentive for choosing it. The Wolf is better in battle, and the Hare finds loot more easily, and so on. The premise of the game starts when the King of Armello is gravely ill with a disease called the Rot. The Rot literally rots away at the King’s health, chipping it lower by one each turn. Each turn has players drawing cards to refill their hands by cards played and playing them in order to help themselves or to hurt other players. In the end, there are three different ways of winning the game either through having the most prestige by the end of the game (essentially doing noble things), gathering enough Rot, and corrupting yourself to a point where you kill the king and take his place or by gathering a specific item in order to break into his castle and heal the king of his madness.
Armello - Multiplayer
Still confused? It’s ok. Armello is a board game, and like most board games, it sounds extremely complicated until you actually begin playing it. That isn’t to say that it’s without depth, but right now, there definitely is a worry that it could become dull. As mentioned earlier, Armello feels a little rushed at the moment, for lack of a better word. There is only one game board at the moment, only four heroes, and a bunch of other minor things that could (and by the frequent developer activity will) be fixed with time and effort.
Multiplayer-wise, the game plays the same as in single-player, but as of right now, it feels somewhat cold. There is no real communication in the game aside from Hearthstone-like phrases to other players, and if one player decides to leave, then the game automatically ends. The leavers are something that was explicitly mentioned to be getting fixed, but it just goes to show how jagged in some areas Armello is at the moment.
The Final Thought
This preview seems negative, but Armello does have a ton of potential. The developers are extremely active on both their Steam and self-maintained forums, and the game is due to receive its first major patch relatively soon. What this adds up to in the end is that Armello is a game to keep an eye on, depending on if it's the type of thing that you like. Consider a purchase if you are a huge board game or Redwall fan (like yours truly), but for others, it probably makes sense to just put it on the back burner for a while until this game shapes up as it gets closer to launch.
TechRaptor previewed Armello on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. This review was originally published on 02-11-2015. While care has been taken to update the piece to reflect our modern style guidelines, some of the information may be out of date. We've left pieces like this as they were to reflect the original authors' opinions and for historical context.