Mordheim: City of the Damned is the first adaptation of Games Workshop’s cult classic tabletop game Mordheim. Originally releasing on PC via Steam last November, the game has now been released to the consoles for a new audience to sample. Is the perilous journey worth undertaking, or should your warband just hang up their shields early? Lets find out…
The game finds you building a warband to take into Warhammers Empire city, which has been decimated by a comet leaving almost nothing behind but a ghost town. You’ll get to pick between 4 iconic warbands from the franchise (Sisters of Sigmar, the Cult of the Possessed, Skaven, Mercenaries from the Empire ) with each offering their own story & abilities for those looking at multiple playthroughs. A good amount of lore from Mordheim is present to keep fans happy, but newcomers will appreciate it too and would no doubt help one get more immersed in the world and conflict that unfolds.
Outside of story missions you’ll be in your camp. Here there’s several things to do such as a shop for equipment and warband customisation. Before discussing others you’ll need to know one thing – Wyrdstone is life. It’s collected during skirmishes (be sure to pick it up) and is used to fulfill orders for big coin bonuses & to advance the story. Gold is very important too, but only a little is collected during battles that will likely just cover expenses. Deaths & injuries carry over after battles, so you’ll need to make sure you’ve enough wonga each day to get your warband to the next battle. Keeping soldiers alive nets XP and can lead to some truly capable warriors when you later find yourself in a pickle. The skirmish section rounds off the games modes, offering online PvP and quick battles against the CPU. The consequences of online bouts carries over to the games single player, so be wary, but the CPU fights are without consequence – a good way to get used to the games brutal nature.
For the most part, the gameplay is good but it does have some quirks – which has seemed to make it a little divisive. Being based on a tabletop game, the developers have gone with a turn based strategy RPG and it works well. Playing the tutorial is paramount, otherwise you won’t understand the intricacies of the combat once it starts. An RNG system is in place (more on that later) to simulate the roll of a dice, so ensuring the warband is well-balanced will help get through most encounters. The random nature of the levels and enemy placements in each skirmish will mean you’ll need your strategy hat on to avoid a mis-match during encounters. Foolishly storming in with a leader or hero will see them slain, which destroys the warbands morale and will see them decimated. The computer takes no prisoners..
..which leads me onto the RNG system mentioned before. It works as intended, but the odd occasion will leave you dismayed. One example during my playthrough seen my Leader isolated (well played AI, well played) and finished off by a lowly archer that scored consecutive critical hits. A dead leader means plummeting morale and my warband were cut down with ease to end the battle. Returning to the camp afterwards seen me needing to hire a new leader, hero and a couple of footsoldiers – with the survivors needing medical costs and a few days recovery. I couldn’t afford to rebuild & equip the warband so the game was effectively over. It can be frustrating when it happens over an hour into a skirmish, no doubt what makes the game a little divisive, but it is a rare occurrence in truth (only happened a couple of times to me) The game is brutal, but it does also make for a satisfying experience when everything goes to plan – one table top fans will appreciate the most.
Mordheim looks and sounds exactly as you would expect a game based on the Games Workshop universe to be. The town looks eerie and packed with atmospheric effects, such as low hanging fog and plenty of environmental detail to the buildings that sets a good atmosphere. Texturing isn’t really as good, but the games overall style does a good job of making up for it. There’s some decent detail levels on the characters and foes you’ll find yourself up against though, with each playable faction looking unique next to the others. All this does come at the cost of some performance. It’s not a major hit by any stretch, but it is there. The drops tend to flare up the most around alpha effects like the fog mentioned previously, which I noticed the most during the games tutorial area – with things being ok the rest of the time. The soundscape for the title is fitting for Mordheim. A good, but not overzealous, BGM keeps things ticking over during the quieter sections of the game. The voice acting during story segments is also good. There’s not much variety, but lines are delivered well and each VA is fitting for the chosen warband.
If you’re a fan of Mordheim or table top strategy in general, this the game for you. There’s plenty of stats and dice rolls for you to mull over during combat, with the world rendered well & perfectly fitting for the games Warhammer roots. The consequence filled gameplay, and the at times brutal RNG, may put off newcomers – but those that stick at it will lose plenty of hours. It’s not perfect, but it’s engrossing once you get to grips with whats on offer.
Mordheim: City of the Damned - 7/10
Who Should Buy This
- Tabletop fans
- Looking for a highly strategic RPG
- Prefer the challenge of high difficulty
- Want a lore packed adventure
Who Should Avoid
- The luck of the dice doesn’t give you confidence
- Punishment for failure doesn’t sound agreeable
- Warhammer just aint your bag
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