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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Minor innuendo as the story progresses. References to "killing the virgin" last.
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Iffy insults in dialogue, such as calling someone a "douche."
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.