By Neilie Johnson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Fun fantasy board game, but multiplayer can have slow turns.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Players fight to save realm by dethroning a king driven mad by a mysterious dark disease.
Positive Role Models
Players' ultimately goal is to usurp a throne; achieving that requires ruthless cunning.
Ease of Play
Card-based rules are extensive; lots of text to absorb.
Violence & Scariness
Characters appear drawn straight from a Disney movie. Violence is stylized, only minimally bloody.
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Products & Purchases
Main menu contains prompts linking to an online shop for downloadable content (DLC).
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some cards reference drinking ale.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Armello is a downloadable digital fantasy board game for the Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs involving strategic combat. Players pit their heroes against three other heroes (either AI or real, online players) in a fight to usurp the crown of a mad king. The king's madness drives him to evil acts, and although players work to save the kingdom from him, they can play dirty tricks on other players to win. Cards contain mild references to drinking alcohol. There's no in-game chat during multiplayer.
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What’s It About?
ARMELLO gives players one objective: Save the realm from an insane king. In this all-animal world, players become heroes from various clans (bear, rat, rabbit, wolf) and compete against one another in a turn-based race to dethrone the king. Every round, players draw cards that enable them to move, equip items, or cast spells on themselves or each other. Combat is an inevitable part of gameplay, but multiple win conditions means players can win the throne their way.
Is It Any Good?
This digital translation of the board game is lots of fun, although the slow speed of multiplayer and tiny text can ruin the experience. Visually speaking, Armello is downright breathtaking. Looking like something right out of a high-budget animated film, Armello sucks you in immediately with its mood, color, and amazing character design. In fact, it takes a while to appreciate the nuances of the gameplay, since the graphics are so incredible. Thankfully, the four-part prologue/tutorial gives you plenty of time to take in the scenery while you figure out how to play.
Beyond its beauty, Armello succeeds because of its variety. Different heroes have different strengths and personalities, and playing as each of them unlocks new and worthwhile perks. There's a definite sense of humor at work here (cards have tongue-in-cheek titles such as "Game of Thorns"). The turn-based nature of the game gives you plenty of time to consider each move, and the different card types (Item, Spell, and Trickery) let you determine what kind of player you are. Are you the noble type, determined to defeat your opponents through questing and building prestige? Or are you more the kind of player who enjoys sabotaging your rivals at every turn? Armello lets you choose and rewards you with a dynamic, suspenseful game every time you play. Theoretically, the tension would be cranked even higher by taking on real players, but unless you pay careful attention to your pre-match settings (it's especially important to use the turn timer to limit the more sloth-like competitors), you could be in for an agonizingly slow game. Fortunately, the gameplay runs quickly if the AI is accelerated. Another minor issue, especially notable with the Switch version, is that the text is incredibly small on the system's screen. While you can take it with you, it can be hard to read the text on cards or missions because its squeezed into such a small font. Docking the system solves this issue, but it's something to be aware of to avoid eye strain. Despite the occasional stint in the slow lane and the tiny text, this is one of the most fun, most visually distinct strategy games in recent memory.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about when rulers go bad. How do Armello's rulers relate to those of the current political situation in the U.S.?
Discuss the importance of ethics. If you win, is it important how you win?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Pricing structure: Paid (Contains links to optional purchases.)
- Available online?: Available online
- Publisher: League of Geeks
- Release date: September 27, 2018
- Genre: Strategy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Fantasy violence, mild blood, alcohol reference.
- Last updated: October 24, 2018
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