Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
MachiaVillain Game Poster Image
Bloody, chaotic cartoon sim with a "killer" sense of humor.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Learning to plan and manage a crew of workers is worthwhile, but your entire purpose is to create new, hilarious ways to kill unsuspecting victims, which undermines any potential positive messages.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Your minions are hard workers and (generally) loyal. They're also zombies, mummies, skeletons, and psychopaths. And they all enjoy killing in their free time, so they're not exactly role models.

Ease of Play

Lots of items to keep track of, a situation that only gets more complicated as your mansion grows and you hire more minions. Some helpful tips and tutorials, as well as options to speed up, slow down, and even pause the action, giving you plenty of time to coordinate your minions and issue orders.


It's a violent game -- players lay traps and command minions to kill hapless visitors lured to their house of horrors -- but its cartoonish style and tongue-in-cheek humor significantly lessen the impact of the blood and gore.


Minor innuendo as the story progresses. References to "killing the virgin" last.


Iffy insults in dialogue, such as calling someone a "douche."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MachiaVillain is a downloadable strategic simulation game for Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. The game uses slapstick, tongue-in-cheek humor to parody classic horror movie clichés by putting players in charge of building their own evil mansion, managing a minion workforce, and luring victims to their doom. Although violence is a central theme of the game -- and things do get bloody -- the cartoonish, comedic style significantly affects the impact of the gore. The game's dialogue includes occasional crude humor and insults like "douche." There are also references to "killing the virgin last," which is a premise frequently used in horror movies to terrify main characters.

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What's it about?

In MACHIAVILLAIN, after eons of servitude to a dark lord, the League of Machiavellian Villains has seen fit to reward your misdeeds with a promotion. You're given a plot of land and a minion workforce made up of the most vile creatures around, with the goal being to build an evil mansion of your very own. From this shadowy lair, you'll need to run an efficient slaughterhouse, luring unsuspecting victims to their untimely demise in classic horror movie style. But don't forget, even bad guys have to follow the rules. Remember: "Kill the virgin last." And most important: "Do NOT kill the dog. EVER." Hey, even homicidal villains have a heart ... even if it wasn't theirs to start with.

Is it any good?

With its excellent black comedy timing, this cartoonish mayhem sim proves that sometimes it just feels good to root for the bad guy. And this time around, you get to actually be the bad guy. You get to set up your evil master plan, bait the stereotypical slasher fodder, and watch as all your planning comes to gory fruition. MachiaVillain's humor is over-the-top and completely self-aware in a tongue-in-cheek cartoon style that's sure to leave a menacing grin on your face and a maniacal cackle in your heart. It's genuinely cute to watch a skeletal henchman gleefully mopping up the bloodstained floors while a vampire decked out in a chef's hat and apron cooks up the bits of your last unsuspecting victims in the kitchen. It's sort of like what would happen if Wes Craven and Clive Barker teamed up to develop a Sims game.

That said, as much fun as MachiaVillain is to play, it also takes a lot of getting used to. At any given moment, you've got many different tasks going on that you have to keep an eye on. You might have one group of minions building a shiny new portal to the netherworld while another is getting attacked by possessed trees, all while your loyal vampires are roasting in the sunlight. Thankfully, the game lets budding evil geniuses catch their breath and plot their schemes by offering options to slow or stop (or even speed up) game time, along with perpetual in-game access to a Start-Up Guide and Wiki. That really helps if you plan to run an enterprising murder house. Killing more victims opens up more expansion options for the mansion, which requires more supplies, which in turn need more minions to manage. So the better you operate, the busier and more difficult the game gets. But, hey, no one ever said that being a ruthless force of darkness would be easy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. How can a game's style and presentation affect the impact of its violence? What about humor and exaggeration?

  • What are some of the reasons that people like to be scared? What's the overall attraction to the horror genre?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love scares

Themes & Topics

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