At PAX East this year, we came across a booth for a monthly based subscription service called Indie Box. Each month, they send out a “Collector’s Edition” for top indie games complete with physical and digital copies of the game, a full color manual, and some cool stuff to go with the game like posters, pins, and other collector’s memorabilia. All for $25 a month.
The first Indie Box we’ve received is for a game called, Armello. The box came complete with a full color manual, cloth banner featuring artwork from the game, a USB drive and steam code for the game, a beautiful pin, collector’s cards that are from the game, soundtrack, and some stickers.
Armello is best described as a digital board game. You play as 1 of 8 characters from 4 different clans, Wolf, Rabbit, Rat, or Bear. Each clan and character have their own perks and stats that add extra dimensions to the game. There are one of 4 ways of winning; you can expedite the process of the King’s death and kill him yourself, you can gain enough “Rot”, the dark corruption, to make it easier to slay the King and dethrone him, collect 4 Spirit Stones and cleanse the King of his Rot, or let the King slowly die and win based off of your high Prestige, which is gained by completing quests and defeating other heroes. Each Hero has an easier time acquiring certain victories than others, but none felt overpowered.
Each turn, you draw cards based off your Wit stat. Depending on the situation and your plans for victory, you can draw items, spells, or trickeries. Each have their own different effects and costs, which add for another really interesting element in the game. Sometimes it’s best to set up to trap your opponent in a trickery, other times it’s best to boost your equipment and get ready for the inevitable fight with another character.
The combat in this game is complicated, but doesn’t seem so on the surface. You roll dice to fight your opponent, and each dice roll can count as an attack, block, or null. If you have more attacks than your opponent blocks, you deal that much damage. You can “burn” useless (or useful) cards to force a die to roll the symbol on the card. This adds even more depth to mulliganing, strategizing when to attack and what cards to burn. It really drew me in as the tutorial explained it and it seemed simple. “Why would I burn this card if I could use it later?”. That’s because sometimes, later never comes, and you may need to get that extra draw or 2 for something as soon as possible.
The game’s unique art-style is definitely something that drew me in and hooked me. The characters and board look absolutely beautiful. The animations on the cards were a really nice touch that made the game feel more alive. This game breathes aesthetic. The animations on the characters and during fights are nice to watch, but the pacing is definitely off. After awhile, it can get tiresome since each turn takes about a minute or so, making games feel like they’re longer than they are. Each game took me around an hour, give or take. A speed up button or animation skip option would definitely have been something that would have made this experience a lot better.
Overall, it’s definitely a game I recommend. At the time I’m reviewing this, they just released a patch featuring a few new characters as well as some improvements. It’s very relaxing and mind-boggling playing and mastering this game. So if you’re into problem solving as I am, you will most definitely enjoy it.