At this year’s PAX Prime I spoke to Trent Kusters, the Art Director at League of Geeks, a company based out of Melbourne Australia who came up with the game Armello.
Armello is a digital pattern board game with RPG and RTS elements. In it, you play as a “Hero” from one of the four animal clans: Rat, Rabbit, Bear, or Wolf. On every turn each player quests, schemes, fights, and explores across a procedurally generated board with the sole goal of becoming king or queen of the land of Armello. Armed with various types of cards (items, spells, and trickery), your mission becomes further empowered.
As Trent put it, Armello is Game of Thrones with animals where each chapter is a unique book. There are four ways to win by becoming king or queen:
Become the king slayer
Collect four spirit stones and banish the king
Without delving into the specifics, each style of victory leads to unique combinations in every game. League of Geeks were motivated by adventures told in Dark Crystal and Labyrinth, and ultimately produced a world where players could craft stories together; a place where individuals could laugh and cry in the midst of an adventure.
The more I play Armello, the more these compelling dynamics are brought to light. It is a beautifully crafted game with incredibly elegant visuals. The game’s colors are strong and vibrant on screen, with sharp undertones that pop. It is quite clear that the team was inspired by Redwall and Studio Ghibli as their elements shine through.
Throughout the course of the game, I found that my goals and methods to achieve them continued to adapt based on the items that were unlocked, the actions of surrounding players, but also the natural dynamic of the story. In many cases how you start is not how you end. Combat was never forced although the AI often seemed unnecessarily aggressive and I had a difficult time “collaborating.” With that in mind, the game is better played with people you know so that their tendencies and personalities can add another level to the gameplay.
As a player the more you reach into Armello, the more it gives back. And that’s the most you could ask from any game: intricacy, inspired craft, and a consequence to every adventure.
Armello is currently available on Steam as well as for PlayStation 4. In the future they’re looking to add tablet support.