STAFF REVIEW of Armello (Xbox One)


Thursday, September 15, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Armello Box art When I was younger it seemed like anything we played with had our imaginations running wild. I remember the days fantasizing over majestic spells and epic battles in a strategic play that unfolded in our minds that we placed before us in reality. Priced at $19.99, Armello aims to deliver a virtual board game experience with heavy RPG elements in an environment home to many different animal factions. Yes, I said animal factions. Now, I understand that $19.99 is a lot to plunk down on a game that originally came out last year on PC, so is it worth that price today or is it showing signs of aging?

Starting things off, the storyline unfolds through the many different factions that are found in this game. Think of it like a story you would tell a person where you included the aspects and ideals of all the various races. Your kingdom is ruled by a Mad King who does nothing as a dark force called 'The Rot' starts to creep amongst the lands as it poisons and destroys all it touches. Throughout this story you will uncover side quests that will help grant your character different bonuses and treasures that can aid you, or even help turn a battle in your favor instantly. These side quests give you two options: you can either choose a safe ending, where you gain some bonuses, or you can select a riskier ending and hope to play the odds and win the bonus. Should you fail in the latter your character suffers damage and ends up losing their rewards.


In terms of content available, there is a ton of it for the single player, but the multiplayer aspect is absolutely brilliantly developed and a welcome breath of fresh air. Experiencing the different animal classes and their bonuses will allow you to play the game in a multitude of ways, which works wonders when trying to craft your individual strategy. You'll have to learn a lot if you want to overthrow the King and save the land. So how do you go about doing that? Essentially you navigate the different tiles while paying attention to their individual bonuses and hindrances that they provide, and then fight in combat when necessary; but there's so much more.

Armello focuses on cards. Everything is a card. Your followers are cards, your inventory items are cards, and most of these cost coins to use. You can earn coins and various followers can assist you with items that can be equipped and put in your inventory, which range from weapons and armor, to fake orders that you can use to divert enemies from your path. These cards differentiate in expense to use and the benefits to your character, and usually the higher the cost the bigger the benefit. Your character is assigned a certain number of AP (action points) which you can use to move, or play a card or two, leaving the choice in strategy entirely up to you. Once your round is done, holding the B button will end your turn.


When you talk about the frequent combat you will notice that your character will roll dice, and depending on your character's animal race, you will get a certain number of dice. Each race of animal has their own distinct bonus and there are even cards that can affect the number of dice you have and/or your opponents have as well, so keep that in mind for a tough fight. Each side represents a certain action, and after each side rolls their dice the action plays out, winner takes the position on the board. Armello does a great job with a tutorial system of various challenges along the same map, but from different animal factions so you can get a feel for the skills you'll need to master moving forward. I cannot stress enough how important it is to go through this, paying attention and observing the controls in the options menu as well. It goes without saying that Armello is easy to pick up and play, but tough to master.

The control system may sound complex and confusing, but the visuals and sound are done beautifully. The shifts from day to night and then to morning are done by creating a pallet of colors that not only are vibrant, but unique as well. While the majority of the game is dealt through text boxes, the board itself looks beautiful. The animations for interactions with others is also very smooth. In regards to the audio, particularly the music, wow did it ever surprise me. For many of the of the indie games that I review, I'm left with my ears bleeding and begging for me to stop, but that isn't the case here and I'm very thankful for it. Everything from the opening screen to the overworld environment, and even the battle sound effects, are done with great attention to detail and proper development which is a big plus in my book.


I can see why developer League of Geeks priced this game at $19.99, and after all that praise, I'm sure you're expecting me to say rush out and buy it, and I am. $19.99 may seem a bit too steep for a game style like this; however, given the overall presentation, and the gameplay that is contained in this indie title, the money you spend will be for a really good digital interactive board game, which is something you don't see too often.




Overall: 7.8 / 10
Gameplay: 7.5 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10

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