Armello is a four-player role-playing digital board game set in an anthropomorphic fantasy kingdom. The titular land of Armello is tyrannically ruled by the once noble King Tau who is perilously ill, infected with a supernatural disease, called the Rot, that plagues the people and their land, corrupting all it touches. The King has eight days left to live, and it is up to the four tribes of Armello to assemble their champions and claim the throne by any way they can.
The tribe is segregated into groups of species and players choose a hero from one the four rival clans; Wolf, Rabbit, Bear, and Rat. Character choice is fundamentally more than just aesthetic as each of the heroes has their own unique abilities ranging from being invisible at night, to gaining health every turn or other miscellaneous battle perks. You can further augment your character by choosing two accessories (rings and amulets) from a limited selection to fit your unique playstyle. These pieces of jewelry are what you get in the way of unlockables and can have a significant impact on your next playthrough.
The gameplay in Armello is much more in-depth than Hearthstone (using both virtual dice and cards!) There are four main ways to steal the throne from the King. The first is to assassinate him (while uninfected) this is known as a Kingslayer Victory and much more complicated than merely charging the castle as there will be many boobytraps and guards will attempt to stem your uprising. The second approach, which is my personal favorite, is the Spirit Stone Victory. This method is best for beginners as to cure the King you have to gather four Spirit stones that appear nightly in Henge like stone circles.
The Rot Victory is similar to Kingslayer except when you face the King you have to have a higher Rot level than him, commit regicide and survive! That’s a lot of balls to be juggling. The final method to win is the easiest and probably the way most people win while they are still unsure of the game. The Prestige Victory requires that you wait out the King’s final eight days have the most Prestige left over when he is gone. Prestige is the equivalent of your fame within the Kingdom of Armello or your sway with the King and is gained and lost depending on your actions in battles, quests and exploring dungeons while exploring the hexagon-based map.
Like a majority of roleplaying boarding games, Armello is tricky to get your head around initially, but once the basics are understood the game opens up, it becomes a fast-paced and thrill to play with other players. Risk/reward is everything, and a solid strategy is absolutely necessary, as taking needless gambles can cost you your game or at least an in-game day to recover. Sometimes you may need to match one more symbol after burning your best cards and still miss. This can be frustrating but is all part of the game and can be avoided with careful planning and a little bit of luck. Battles and traps are dealt with by the matching symbols on a dice. If you match the correct symbols or have more Attack dice than your opponent has defense dice, you win! When solving the traps, known in the game as Perils, you can also burn cards that have the corresponding symbols, but this will cost you one of your dice! Sounds simple enough but with spells, curses, roaming place guards and ambushes it pays to go prepared.
The animated cutscenes were nothing short of spectacular. When I got to see the few video sequences I kept thinking I would love to watch a series or full feature of Armello right now. Just as long as it retains the personality-filled but straightforward style of Armello’s introduction and at the end of the prelude tutorial sequences.
Armello is let down by a few unusual quirks, with the biggest being the lack of local multiplayer. I had assumed that a board game based release would have prioritized local multiplayer but I was disappointed to find no option for it. There is online play, and as there is no local the best way to play and enjoy this game is to get together, four friends have four Nintendo Switches in the same room all playing along with each other.
Although there is an option for Quick AI Turns and the awkward choice to hold down the right analog stick to Fast forward, this function needs to be even quicker as in single-player action can lull when waiting for your next turn.
The main issue I have with Armello – Basic Version is not the quality of the content, just what is included which is the basic vanilla version released on Steam a couple of years ago. This would be fine except that there have been many content packs trickled out, and all of these small packs have been merged into one large DLC purchase so unless you are thoroughly addicted you will most likely put off buying content that really should have been included as unlockables. Complete Version is a crass subtitle for a game too, showing off an occupation with how the game is delivered rather than anything to do with the content of the game.
Even though there should be more content, what you get is displayed in the most impressive quality. Almost like a Studio Ghibli version of Disney’s Robin Hood. If you are a fan of Hearthstone, Magic the Gathering, Dungeons & Dragons or anthropomorphic fantasy and you’re looking for a beautifully presented faster paced roleplaying game, then look no further. However, if you want to immerse your self in the world of Armello, I would strongly recommend you get the Complete Edition as the Basic Version, although fully functional, feels slightly hollow and is probably best saved for those that just want to join in with others in multiplayer occasionally. Half the game is locked off as literally fifty percent of the features and characters are locked off behind the 4-megabyte Complete Version DLC.