The fantasy digital board game Armello is a truly unique experience.
Out of the gate, the 4-part tutorial walks you through the basics of what is actually a fairly complex board games. The tutorial also helps inject a bit of story into the world and characters, giving life and background to your future game sessions.
One thing that is immediately obvious is the love and care that went into the visual design of Armello. The art style, the animations, the interface, and the sounds and music were crafted to fit together perfectly into a single experience. I’m playing it on PS4, but it feels like even the control scheme was adapted flawlessly to console from its original home on PC.
The game design is a good blend of luck and strategy. Occasionally it leans to far toward luck (typically in board games, a single dice roll doesn’t decide whether you win or lose the game), but after playing a couple of games, you can learn to better prepare yourself for those bad-luck scenarios.
Since each game is long, it’s actually almost a better tactic to be ambivalent, free-roaming, and fluid with your strategy, until the last third of the game when it becomes obvious which path will most likely take you toward victory. This isn’t a problem necessarily, but it’s also not ideal. You don’t want your players realizing that not trying is the best way to get through most of your game, and you definitely don’t want players to realize that all of their hard work and concentration is for naught when the winds can suddenly shift and leave you further from victory than you ever thought possible.
I think the game could benefit greatly by incorporating a story mode or campaign. Something similar to Warcraft III’s story mode.
The campaign would consist of somewhere between 5 and 10 specific map challenges and situations to complete, with a focus on storytelling. There are 8 playable characters, so maybe each could have its own 1 or 2-part story, and they all linked together thematically (or directly).
It would be awesome to play Armello locally with friends when they come over, but I can’t entirely imagine how the developers would implement something like this, as the game is so crazy dynamic and fluid. The only way it’d work is to have a literal split screen copy of the game for each player, and even then players could screen-peek to see what the other was planning next.
Regardless, I’m loving this game, and it’s something that I’ll continue to play more of. I’m happy to see a board game that was made from the ground up for digital, and not simply a digital development of an existing physical game.
[ Today I Was Playing: Armello and Never Alone and Pokemon Alpha Sapphire and Nova-111 ]
September 12, 2015