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Armello review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: League of Geeks
Developer: League of Geeks
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: Yes
ESRB: E10+

So a rabbit, a wolf, a rat, and a bear walk into a bar. They begin to conspire on how to take down the lion king (not the Disney version, while that would have been cool). Ok, so that isn’t what is really happening in the kingdom of Armello, but it’s a minor exaggeration. Armello is a grid based strategy board game. That seems like the easiest way to describe it and looking at that sentence at a second glance, it sounds complicated. That gives you a good idea of what to expect with this game. A board game taken to the digital world of gaming and ramped up by utilizing multiple types of board game styles and some strategy game clichés.

In Armello you are tasked to take down the king by any means, but you aren’t the only one trying to take him down. There are 3 other players competing to take down the king as well, and if you get in their path, they will attempt to take you down. Armello is a very complicated game, it even has 4 prologue levels in an attempt to teach you how to play, so I am going to try and keep this review to the bare minimum of what’s needed to understand the game.

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After you decide which character you will use to rise through the ranks and try and become king with, you’re taken to Armello (game board). Your turn begins and you’re given a choice of quest to start. This quest is unique to your character. This, of course, is also in addition to taking down the king and whomever is in your path. Once you select the quest you would like to do, you may make some moves on the game board. There is also the cycle of day and night which has different effects on particular spaces of the game board (among other things), so that plays a factor on how you decide to move. Once you’re happy with your moves and choices you end your turn and the next player begins the same process (which can not be accelerated at all even if you are playing only A.I. opponents). That’s the most basic I can keep the description of how Armello plays. One thing I didn’t mention is that you also have a deck of cards, which contains items, spells and trickery. These cards vary in how they can be used. Some cards can be played on the game board to set up traps, some will improve your character’s stats, and some will affect items during battle.

Does it sound complicated yet? Well there is actually much, much more. Lets talk a bit about the battle system. When you initiate a fight with another player or they with you, a new screen is presented and as with many strategy board games, you must now roll battle dice. Depending on your current stats and cards that you have played on your character you may also receive bonus dice to use during battle. With a roll of the dice (which is done by sliding the PS4 controller’s track pad) you will do damage or shield incoming damage. But wait just a minute…that sounds way too simple. Let’s make that a bit more complicated. So the cards I mentioned a bit earlier also have a function in the battle system. Cards that are still sitting in your deck (not equipped or used on the game board) can be  “burned”. Every card features an icon in the upper right corner and this icon represents an image on one of the sides of the die. If you want to “burn” a card it will give you that icon represented on the corner of the card as an equivalent die roll. So for example; you have a card that has a shield in the corner and you’re currently low on health. You don’t want to risk an attack on your character so you can “burn” the card with the shield on it and that will immediately turn a die into a shielded die as if you had rolled it. There we go, a simple dice mini game made more complicated than it needed it be.

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There is even more to the kingdom of Armello that I just can’t get into. I’m too worried that everyone reading will simultaneously fall asleep at their reading device or their brain will explode with trying to comprehend all of the different aspects of this game. So you can thank me later for saving you from either of those. I love to play board games with friends and family and sometimes those games are a bit complicated, so I don’t want it to seem like this sort of game isn’t up my alley.

I really wanted to like Armello, but it just has too much going on to keep me focused and also keep me interested. I just wanted the king to die already, and I didn’t care much if I was the one doing the killing. Armello is currently available on the PlayStation Store and Steam for $19.99. At that price point I would recommend picking up an actual board game and playing with some friends. I currently recommend Cinelinx, Forbidden Island and Munchkin which can all be purchased for less than $19.99.

Grade: C+