Lately I’ve been really enjoying the slow methodical pace of strategy games. Games like, “Darkest Dungeon” and “Guild Of Dungeoneering” have been consuming most of my time. My wife and myself have really enjoyed being able to carefully plot out of choices and all the while drift from topic to topic of conversation without having to worry about the real time pace that most games now boast.
So with this in mind I was on the lookout for another title that could fit into this category. And in my search I came across “Armello”. A game with beautiful artful cinematic trailers displaying a complex story and variety of characters.
My impression from the trailer was this:
You played as either a single character or a group (wasn’t clear which), and lived within a Kingdom ruled over by a mad King. Through strategy based levels you would progress through the story, uncovering what had driven the king to this point, and bring the Kingdom back to splendor.
The trailers quoted a reviewer to have said “It’s like Game Of Thrones with animals.” Which to me was a very big selling point. I could see where a well thought out strategy game could take many story building and game play elements from a series like that and turn it into something tremendous.
So I dove into the game and began the tutorial missions to figure out how the game was played. I was immediately put off by the technical flaws causing the game to freeze without error code in the first moments of each game. Never at exactly the same point, but always within minutes. So I searched the internet and found other people were having the same issue.
|Combat between characters|
This wasn’t a complete deal breaker for me, this are bound to happen when you’re dealing with small team developers so it’s most important that these issues are quickly resolved, not that they aren’t there to begin with.
In just a few days (seemingly without a patch) I hopped back on to test the game one more time and this time found it playing out smoothly. The tutorial mission was a simple instruction in controlling your character and being introduced to the next.
Yet after that second tutorial with the second character I began to get a dreadful feeling that the tutorial was preparing me for exactly what the game would be like. Not just showing me the basics and growing it from there through a giant complex campaign, but a single serving game where the only real changes are your dice rolls.
Nonetheless I finished the tutorials, and was increasingly dissatisfied with the game play progression. Yet I still had hope maybe I was wrong, and the game was something more, so I set off into the single player mode.
I was again let down to find that the entirety of the game was just the tutorial match over and over. There is no story. There is no progression. And it’s heavily influenced by dice rolls, and poor AI scripting.
For instance: one character repeatedly threw himself at another AI character without having a chance of survival every chance it got. Sometimes multiple times in a turn. Which caused that winning character to become overly powerful with no chance of the other players catching up.
Now I get that they probably designed the game with the multiplayer in mind, but they market it as being a single player experience. And it’s in the single player aspects that it mostly falls short. I don’t intend on testing the full multiplayer support so if you’re more interested in that there are plenty of reviews out there from other sources.
Now in terms of game mechanics it does have some interesting moments. I was introduced to a character who’s gimmick was that she explored dungeons in order to gain loot. I was exactly excited in the tutorial when I was exposed to this aspect. I walked over to my first dungeon and was ready to start exploring, then come back to the game world with more power and see how the board had changed during my time away. However instead, I walked to the dungeon tile, was met with a small dice roll, then a text box saying the dungeon was complete and my turn was over.
My heart began to sink even lower as I quickly realized this was going to be the trend will all my actions. Anything I thought would end up being a fun and exciting portion would just turn out to be a dice roll, and a text box. With little to no personal skill or strategy involvement.
There are so many of these beautiful moments where I think things will develop and add a layer of depth only to be met with disappointment when each turn becomes exactly the same.
You are offered multiple ways to win the game, which all revolve around defeating the king in one way or another, but each of those ways takes a painfully long time. When the actions are so repetitive, the least that could be done is make them more meaningful, and get each match a close quicker.
Instead I found myself playing for over an hour on each game, utterly outmatched on every corner but still waiting to see the “You Lose” screen turn up.
Even through all these hiccups I still believe the game devs had the best intentions. Where they fell down was advertising to single player gamers, but obviously designing with multiplayer in mind. I think from a multiplayer aspect with a few tweaks it could be a really fun game for friends to play online. But from a single player perspective it’s an utter failure.
|One of the gorgeous cinematic scenes.|
My greatest hope is that the dev team takes this idea and shifts it in one directly or the other. Focus on making a great story driven, adventure, strategy, game, for single player. Or get’s rid of the false presentation that it’s a story build game and ramp up the competitive multiplayer aspects.
So if you’re like me and find yourself searching for that heavy strategy, single player experience, I don’t suggest you look here. But keep your eyes open to see if the developers focus their intentions on delivering what this concept could have been in the future!
Verdict: Do Not Buy (But watch closely)
Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next time on “Should You Buy…”