[dropcap size=big]W[/dropcap]e talk about a lot of crowdfunded games here but, in my experience at least, something that’s as high-quality as Armello is somewhat hard to come by. This is still an early access, and we all know how I feel about those, but despite being somewhat lacking in content, Armello is an incredibly solid and polished core experience of a game. Do I think you should get into the early access? Do I think this game is for everyone? Do I think that Armello is currently worth the price of admission? Find out the answers to all of these questions and more in the thrilling conclusion of this review. No, seriously though, I’m going to tell you what I think now.
Okay, so let’s start off with a disclaimer: I’ve only played this game for 3-4 hours, but I feel complete justified in reviewing the game at this point because I did, in fact, explore every aspect and feature of this game. How is that possible? Well, Armello isn’t exactly a video game in the typical sense, it is, like I said, a virtual tabletop. There are four players, three being AI in most cases, who each take on the role of one of four humanoid mammal kaiju thing. The game takes place on a hexagonal grid with several non-player characters of various alignments and purpose. You’ll encounter Banes if you’re taking one of the more noble of the four possible win conditions, and if you’re a bad boy, you’ll be fighting the King’s Guards and, possibly, the King. Events happen on the map, you’re constantly in pursuit of quests, and you’re tasked with managing four different “currencies” to help you play cards, perform well in combat, and screw the other players over.
Now, without getting too far into the actual gameplay mechanics and specifics, I want to talk about who this game will appeal to. I’m sure there are plenty of reviews out there that give a detailed summary of all the gameplay specifics and such, but since I’ll be putting a video up on our YouTube channel soon covering the gameplay basics, I’m going to use this article to explain this game’s appeal.
Armello was made for people that enjoy a good tabletop game but can’t gather with their friends enough to play as much as they’d like. If you just want to play Armello single-player, you’ll probably get bored pretty quickly. There’s only one map, there are only 4 playable characters, and there aren’t a ton of different ways to play the game, so this is absolutely a game that is best when played with friends or, lacking friends, other humans. Unfortunately, this game’s multiplayer is currently barren – keep in mind that this early access – and I couldn’t find a game after over an hour’s wait. The solution to all of this? Buy a four pack, I guess! This game would be pretty great with three other people that really enjoyed it, and as a tabletop game, it’s really fun and varied. Just don’t buy this if money is tight and you don’t have anyone to play with. The single player will keep you entertained for a few hours, but it will quickly stagnate (especially since the AI are laughably bad and there are no difficulty options).
The games aesthetics are spot on. Armello isn’t some dazzlingly beautiful next-gen tech demo, but the artwork is solid all of the time. The characters and environments are well designed, the many cards are beautiful (and animated!), and the animations are, while somewhat stiff, more than suitable. The same can be said about the music – somewhat unremarkable, but capable of setting the right mood.
So our review comes to a close, and it’s time to answer those questions. Do I think you should get into the early access? Eh, no, not in my opinion. What’s here is great, but more is on the way, and if I were you, I wouldn’t risk getting burnt out on the core game before more content is added. That all ties into the next question: Do I think that the game is worth the current price of admission? Only if you have friends to play with. If you have three friends that are interested in the game, then go for it, but at $25, it’s just not worth it for someone who’s not going to play with people. There’s only a tiny amount of single-player content because, after all, it’s a board game, and board games aren’t typically single-player experiences. Do I think this game is for everyone? Sure! With a bigger legion of players and more content, I could see just about anyone enjoying this, but due to a bit of a learning curve, I advise those of you who are new to tabletop games to do a little extra research to see if this game’s right for you.
All in all, Armello is a sterling example of an Early Access game, but with a lack of single-player content, I can’t reccommend it unless you’ll be playing with friends. The game itself was obviously crafted with extra love, and the level of polish is astounding, complimenting extremely well thought-out gameplay mechanics and a wide enough variety of gameplay that it’ll never get boring… If you have friends. You can check out Armello on Steam right now, and if it tickles your fancy, you can pick it up for $25.