The Definitive Tabletop Experience – Mordheim: City of the Damned Review (PC)
Releasing a game based on an out-of-print table top game from the late 90′s is a pretty nice thing to do. Board games and Table Tops are currently enjoying something of a resurgence, opening the door to a whole new world for many video game fans. Perhaps this is the best time to introduce a new generation to Mordheim: City of the Damned.
From the opening second, Mordheim is every bit the Table Top experience. Rule sets to study, actions to understand and plans to be made, all requirements. Mordheim makes it’s statement clear from the very start, either learn the game or fail horribly. In all fairness, it’s genuinely refreshing to find a game that doesn’t wish to hold the player’s hand.
Taking place during a dark age, Mordhiem is a city stricken with death and corruption. Players form their own Warband to gather a mysterious substance spread around the city streets. The spine of the story revolves around the struggle to control this substance, known as wyrdstone. In comes familiar elements of Warhammer traits, including cults, black magic and plenty of Gothic overtones.
Mordhiem’s Warband feature is where the game is won and lost. Warband’s are formed from either Skavern, Imperial or Cultists. Within each faction is various units, each with their own stats and abilities. Selecting the units for a Warband is the first major tactical decision encountered, profoundly affecting the rest of the game.
Every action and movement made by units is driven by stats and traits. From the distance a unit can travel, to their success in battle, it’s all based on numbers and dice rolls. The mechanic is straight out of Tabletop gaming, giving Mordhiem a genuine sense of legitimacy. No matter how well you think you’ve planned, a bad roll of the dice can turn things sour.
Each member of a Warband can progress and improve. Skills and levels can be increased, allowing players to craft a force that suits their style. The growth of a Warband is dictated by the success ,or failure, in the various skirmishes and missions they participate in. Units grow in combat effectiveness, they rank up earning themselves names and characteristics…and then they die.
Mordhiem’s permanent death mechanic is the driving force behind the game’s unforgiving nature. Missions no longer become just missions, they’re life or death. Risk and reward slowly starts to become more and more of a influence as the game goes on. It’s that very same risk and reward mechanic that provides Mordhiem’s greatest thrills.
Warbands can embark on two types of missions. The primary missions follow a vague story that never truly formulates. Side missions act as a means to improve Warbands supplies and equipment. Given the consequences of failure, selecting deciding which mission to attempt is a heavy decision. Fortunately Warbands can send scouts to each mission area, giving the player some idea of what to expect.
Aside from a difficulty and depth that may put off people, Mordhiem’s main issue are mostly technical. With a dark Gothic art style, complete with imagery you;d see on a Doom Metal album, the game looks fine. Things become a little shaky when it comes to how the game runs. Drops in frame rate and long loading times plague Mordhiem. Even when the game is ran on a high end PC things still tend to be less than ideal. It’s by no means unplayable, just slightly annoying.
Morhiem: City of the Damned is perhaps one of 2015′s moist accomplished games. More often than not, video games fall short of their goal. Morhiem is the closet you can possibly get to Tabletop Gaming without physical playing the original. From the sheer depth of the rules and play, to the ability to customize your Warband, it all works. Technical issues aside, Morhiem is harsh, but hugely satisfying, experience that deserves to be put right up there next to X-com. Dark, brutal and deep, the City of Damned is certainly worth a visit.