Games Workshop might be best known for Warhammer, which has been released on consoles in the past, but its latest adaptation might be lesser well known. Mordheim – City of the Damned was a table top game originally released in 1999. Set in the same world and timeline as Warhammer, Mordheim varies by being a Warband game where players control a small group of units rather than an entire army. To make the transition to console, the game has been changed into a tactical RPG, but does this work successfully?
Before you start out in its campaign, Mordheim informs you that it’s going to be hard, and it sure isn’t lying. This is a game that you probably won’t be able to jump into and get to grips with, but if you sink some time into it, it becomes progressively easier. City of the Dammned‘s tutorials are completely optional, meaning those familiar with the table top format can simply jump in and play with confidence. These tutorials are split across 4 interactive options and serve as a great jumping off point for those unfamiliar with the inner workings of the game. City of the Damned will undoubtedly take some time getting used to and newcomers may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information thrown at you over the course of such a short space of time.
Mordheim – City of the Damned: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: Rogue Factor
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: 18 October 2016
Price: £29.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
City of the Damned plays out as a tactical role-playing game, where you control a small percentage of characters by picking their movements, attacks and everything else in between. Each of your chosen characters take it in turns, with the enemies taking their turns alternating with yours. At times there will be a lot going on with enemies coming in and out of shot on screen, firing long range weapons, scavenging for loot, etc. The screen can feel overly cluttered at times, but everything that you see will be important, quite what emphasis you place on that importance is up to you. You’ll want to watch out for which of your warriors is fighting next, the percentage chance you have of hitting enemies as well as the loot points, the map as a whole and many other aspects. All previously afromentioned elements must come together in order for you to successfully end a match.
Warriors themselves are complicated to control and difficult to master while a learning curve won’t likely see you winning straight off the bat. If you go one on one, expect many casualties, and this won’t bode well for you in future battles. Your soliders can be knocked out, and if this occurs can sustain minor, major and serious injuries, ranging from broken, dismembered limbs to long-term amnesia, which can dramatically affect how they perform in future fights. And not all of these are recoverable, some warriors may actually die in the midst of battle or from their previously acquired injuries. Injury and death are part and parcel of Mordheim; another aspect of its gameplay that you will need to keep close watch on throughout your battles. Aalthough it can sometimes be hard to avoid deaths if you take a wrong turn or if your warriors find themselves overwhelmed far too quickly.
The environments you’ll be fighting within are not always kind to you, and the towering look of the castles and abandoned buildings you’ll be exploring fit in with this theme. You can be wandering the grounds for quite some time before you eventually stumble across any enemies, and by then you might find yourself cornered, with the fight over for you before it even began. You need to keep your team’s morale high by keeping your warriors alive. The more they fall, the lower your morale becomes; leading to a possible defeat. Every way you can lose though is another way you can win a battle, and knocking out oppostion enemies and lowering their morale is your main aim in these fights.
When you aren’t fighting, you’ll find yourself in the games campaign menu keeping track of your group of warriors, or Warband as the game names them. You have five of these warbands to choose from at the start of the game (including a DLC Warband), that vary from rat man to holy women. Each Warband team requires a leader who will be stronger and have more health, along with some henchmen. You will be less powerful but that you’ll still need to support your leader. These warriors must be bought with gold, and you will earn better warriors and more slots, as well as abilities and points to spend on their skills the more you win and level up your warriors and the Warband as a whole. Doing this gives you an incentive to level up, as well as sticking with the game for longer than you might have done otherwise, and there’s enough on offer here to fill up your time for a long while.
The rest of your time will be spent in the shop, buying new equipment, levelling up your Warband in the veteran skills section, fulfilling requests for certain items you will have picked up along the way, and on top of all this you have the offer of skirmishes too. These can be played online with other players, and can be done casually or competitively. There doesn’t seem to be a whole load of people playing the game or organising these skirmishes currently, but this may change as the game picks up following its release. Speaking of waiting, the loading screens in City of the Damned are a little too frequent so expect to be staring at them for quite a bit during your time with the game.
Mordheim – City of the Damned is not an easy game to get to grips with, but if you persevere then you will be rewarded with some great action and fun gameplay. The game will definitely not be to everyone’s taste, and there is a steep learning curve here, even with the tutorials on offer. Visually, the environments are stunning, but the actual warriors themselves don’t wow as you might want them to. Overall, City of the Damned will appeal to fans of Warhammer but newcomers should be wary of the fact they’ll have to sink in a fair few hours and have a lot to learn before they can properly get to grips with, and enjoy, what’s on offer here.
Mordheim - City of the Damned
- Choice of 5 warbands and plenty of warriors to buy, upgrade and fight with
- Tutorial tells you all you need to know before starting the game
- Fun and fast paced gameplay
- Steep learning curve which may put casual gamers off
- Screen can be cluttered with lots of stats to pay attention to
- Easy to get overwhelmed by enemies quickly in the fights leading to death