Title: Mordheim: City of the Damned
Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Rogue Factor
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release date: Out now
tl;dr: It’s a virtual tabletop game. Just buy a real table top game instead and play with friends (and booze).
Price: $40 / £30
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

Mordheim: City of the Damned is a tactical role-playing game based on Games Workshop’s Mordheim tabletop game; a skirmish-oriented derivative of the larger Warhammer Fantasy games. Mordheim: City of the Damned doesn’t feature a story per se. Players need to tackle missions and basically survive onto the next one.

When loading up the game for the first time, players are required to create their Warband: a group of soldiers to take into battle. First off, you must choose among four different classes: Cult of the Possessed, Mercenaries from the Empire, Sisters of Sigmar or Skaven. Once the clan has been decided, players must hire a leader. Once the head honcho of the group has been selected, you’ll need to recruit additional soldiers (at least three more) to bring to battle.

As with any RPG, players can thankfully improve their crew. Players can obtain or buy a variety of stronger equipment as the battles grow progressively more difficult. However, players need to be wise spending their hard-earned gold, as mismanaging expenses can prove frustrating; more on that later. But those who have the patience to dedicate to this game and plan their strategy accordingly will be able to grow stronger and recruit new members instead of hitting a dead end.

One thing I very much hated was the fact once a mission started, your crew is scattered all across the map; a few turns will be lost by trying to get your crew together. Even worse, if the enemy gangs up on a crew member, he (or she) will pretty much be out of action by the time you’ll figure where they are, let alone reach the spot in time.

Of course, going into battles means having warriors risk life and limb (literally) in order to achieve victory. In between missions, players have a plethora of micro-management to do. Wounded soldiers need to be treated in order to be able to enter the next battle; the game won’t let you progress until you’ve paid the necessary amount for the warriors’ medication. Severely hurt soldiers such as amputees will need to be temporarily replaced as they heal from their wounds. Omitting to pay your wounded’s medical bills can lead to permanent death, so players have to play it smart.

In order to set out into battle, you’ll have request to capture certain items in order to ship to your Patron, Baron Von Leitdorfer. The gripe I have with limiting soldiers available at the ready, is that they’ll be more focused on taking out enemy forces rather than scouring every inch of a level to find the required merchandise. Additionally, once the battle is over, players can’t freely roam the map to collect the materials. Another frustrating point is that players can actually be screwed with; the battles require at least four warriors, so if players can’t afford to hire new crew members or pay the current staff, it’s pretty much game over.

As indicated, players are required to compensate their soldiers with gold earned from battle and pay to heal wounded crew members. However, run out of gold (and items to sell), and your warband is screwed. Players won’t be able to progress forward as the “Campaign,” selection will be locked out. Choosing “Next Day,” won’t help, as it simply reduces the amount of time players have to fulfil requests.

For its complex gameplay mechanics, Rogue Factor went a bit easy on the game’s presentation, as it could’ve easily been a last-gen game. While I do love the gothic atmosphere, it doesn’t bring any “wow,” factor to the game. Characters are all expressionless, bringing back horrible memories of hockey games from the early 2000s. Audio wise, again not anything noteworthy, the game’s score complements the visuals appropriately. There isn’t much of voice-overs per se besides the generic narrator and enemies screaming when getting hit and killed.

While I can certainly appreciate what Rogue Factor did with Mordheim: City of the Damned, I believe this genre might be a bit too niche for its own good. While being very much open minded and trying to enjoy the game for what it is, I don’t see myself playing beyond my review, mostly because a single battle can take quite some time. While the visuals were certainly lacking, I loved the aesthetic, which felt a bit Diablo-esque, but the battle system very much put me to sleep (don’t play this game if you’re dead tired). Waiting for A.I. opponents to take their turn can be a bit tedious. If you’re looking for a solid experience that requires dedication, (a lot of) patience, or you’re a fan of table top games, Mordheim: City of the Damned will be right up your alley. For those who have limited gaming time, might want to pass.

The Good

  • Deep warband customisation/creation
  • Diablo-esque atmosphere

The Bad

  • Requires a lot of time/patience/dedication
  • Might be too niche for its own good

Family Focus

Mordheim: City of the Damned is rated M for Mature in North America and rated PEGI 18 in the UK as it features blood and violence.

This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by Xbox UK