Armello is a turn based strategy game where you will be controlling one character on a hex grid competing against other heroes to take control of the kingdom’s throne, either locally against the AI or online against other players.
There are eight animal heroes that you can play as, each with a unique bonus and different distribution of base stats. After choosing a hero, there are rings that are unique to each hero that you can select to gain a passive bonus such as gaining magic in a forest, as well as amulets that any hero can use that will grant a small bonus to base stats. Additional rings can be unlocked for each hero by simply playing them during matches, as well as amulets that unlock from winning the game for each victory condition and other ways.
Each player takes turns moving their hero around the map, which is a round area with the king’s castle in the middle. While exploring you will run into different tile types which can affect your hero, such as stone circles that will heal you or mountains that uses two turn points but gives you extra defense. There are also a few special tiles such as settlements that can be claimed to earn you gold every day, and dungeons that spawn banes or be explored. As turns go by, the time of day also changes which can affect which heroes gain bonuses as well as causing banes to appear.
When two characters run into each other, combat will be initiated with dice rolls. The number of dice that you can roll is determined by your base stats, the time of day, and many other factors. Instead of numbers, dice have different shapes on each side that will determine the number of times you will attack and defend during a battle. Two basic shapes grant simple attacks and defenses, while other shapes depend on a time of day to do anything, do nothing at all, or even grant an attack and allow a bonus roll.
Heroes also have a hand of cards that can be used anytime, even during other heroes’ turns, and they will be replenished at the beginning of every turn. Cards come in different types and have large variety of uses, such as healing, leaving a peril on the map for someone else to run into, or even equipping permanent cards that can grant bonuses during battle. Even if a card can’t directly help during battles, they can instead be burned before dice are rolled to guarantee certain symbols to show up on the dice.
Other than simply exploring the map each turn, there are a few objectives to strive for. You will always have a quest to go after, which just requires you to go to a randomly selected tile and you will get a reward if luck is on your side, while also increasing base stats. The game has four different ways to win the game, but they all involve the king in the middle in some way. The simplest way is to simply defeat him in combat and survive the encounter yourself. If the king is defeated by someone but also dies in the process, whoever has the most prestige will then win instead. With enough luck, collecting four spirit stones around the map means that all you have to do is take them to the king without having to worry about combat. The last way to win the game is the same as killing the king and surviving, but also having accumulated rot on your hero and having more of it than the king.
At first the game seems complex even with the tutorial, but i felt like you didn’t really have to learn everything in the game to enjoyably play it. Since there is a lot of luck involved in the game, skill won’t be much of a requirement to enjoy it. Since one match lasts 30-45 minutes, it won’t be the best for people with not much time. However, since it is a game that doesn’t always require your attention when playing against the AI, and you can return to your AI matches at a later point, you may find a way to enjoy the game. There is a lot of luck involved in the game, so even if you were to find the optimal way to play the game, you can still easily lose. There is no campaign, but each match of the game can take you around 30-45 minutes each time to complete. Other than replaying the game a bunch, the only other thing to add length to the game is that there are various bonus items that can be unlocked for each hero and the amulets unlocked by playing the game in certain ways.
The options menu is pretty bare for this type of game. You can change resolution, a simple graphic setting, volume sliders, and the most complete part about options is the controls, since you can configure what all the buttons do. The graphics have a very colorful 3D look about them. It runs well at max settings, though there is only a single graphical setting that controls everything, as well as resolution. There are a few songs in the game to listen to, depending on the time of day or if you’re rolling dice. Everything has a unique sound effect so there is no asset sharing, but there is no voice acting of any kind in the game. The game contols very simply with either the mouse and keyboard or a controller. Loading into a game doesn’t take very long, and once a game starts, you don’t have to wait for any more loading until it finishes.
I was first impressed by the presentation of the game, mainly from the opening intro. After getting into the gameplay though, it didn’t take me long to feel bored. The amount of luck involved in the gameplay, along with having to sit for long periods of time where you’re doing nothing except for watching other characters move make it feel like your individual skill doesn’t matter and that you don’t do much playing yourself. There was one match that I played where I was clearly doing worse than the other three characters, but I still won since I somehow accumulated enough prestige to win the game. Except for the luck and balance issues, it’s not a bad game if you want to play something that doesn’t always need your attention and doesn’t rely on a lot of skill.