Board games are notoriously difficult and time consuming to setup, play and, of course, clean up. Unless it’s as simple as booting it up and quitting when you’re done.
Amello is the latest in a line of digital board games, and we’re liking what we’re seeing so far.
This isn’t a simple conversion of an existing board game into a digital format, either – though we do enjoy many of those that have made it to places like the iOS App Store. Armello is an original concept designed from the ground up for digital consumption but with a board game mentality.
In Armello, you step into the shoes of one of the leaders of the clans in the kingdom of Armello. Something is wrong in the kingdom, and the king is going mad and dying. As a hero in the kingdom, you aim to defeat the kingdom and take over, for better or worse. You can take down the king directly, become such a big hero that your ascension upon the King’s death becomes inevitable, or even give into the rot destroying the King and let the kingdom become shrouded in darkness.
While navigating the lush and randomly generated map, players will encounter different obstacles and advantages, collecting resources and building up a collection of useful cards that let you do things like cast spells and engage in subterfuge. This isn’t a collectible card game or a deck builder, though. Every game of Armello uses the same shuffled deck of cards and every player pulls from the same pile.
My favorite part of the hands-on session we had, guided by League of Geeks director Trent Kusters, was the art. The game is already in Steam Early Access for PC, but the game is getting a huge overhaul for its release. The basic style you see on the Steam page right now is still intact, but it’s been polished significantly and has become a big selling point for the game. The player characters are beautiful both in 3D on the board and in 2D during battle. Every single card you pick out of the deck has a short but great-looking animation loop.
The different player characters, of which there are four right now and four more to come at the game’s release, are all anthropomorphic characters – rabbit, bear, rat and wolf, currently. The art is influenced by stories like Mouse Guard and Redwall, and Kusters wasn’t afraid to agree when we suggested it. Both of those stories are known for some great art and interesting character designs.
Armello was easy to pick up, and I felt fairly proficient in a few minutes. For fans of digital board games, the 30-90 minute block required to play through a game is far from unreasonable and could end up being pretty rewarding.
Our only gripe is that, right now, League of Geeks doesn’t see a pathway to local multiplayer. Despite Armello very much being in the style of modern board games, the choice to allow multiple players to work through their turns and explore the map at their leisure makes it a tough proposition. With that said, we’d still love to see a local multiplayer implemented at some point, even if that is just a pipe dream. For now, though, all multiplayer for Armello will be online.
Pick up Armello on Steam Early Access right now or later this year when the game hits PlayStation 4 as well.