Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Mordheim, City Of The Damned by Rogue Factor.
I’m starting to think the Warhammer games are cursed. Well, mostly.
I love the idea of their universes and I would love to sink my teeth into something that’s not a tabletop game, but every time I come to a new electronic interpretation of their properties, I’m almost always disappointed. The sole exception (that I’ve tried, anyway) is probably Blood Bowl 2, which was fantastic. But, that was the one bright, shining star in a sea of mediocre product… I had hoped that as a turn-based strategy game Mordheim: City of the Damned would be a winner, but I’m going to chalk this one up as another ‘no thanks’.
Basically, it’s like XCOM set in the Warhammer universe. It seems like a good idea on paper, especially considering how well Blood Bowl 2 turned out (also a turn-based strategy) but this one is seventeen different kinds of rough.
For starters, that user interface. Holy cow. There’s a whole lot of info on the screen, but very little of it is instantly understandable or useful. The developers would’ve been smart to pare it back and make it more readable.
Past that, it’s just plain hard to tell what’s going on. Unlike some strategy games where the map shows where things are with just a glance, I found it difficult to get a sense of my situation in Mordheim – there are structures that block the view, there’s no free-moving camera to pan around, and things are easily obfuscated. The game lets players deploy a waypoint so that they know which direction to go, but the waypoint is tough to see! Clicking the right stick gives a top-down view of the map, but it fails to give a clear picture of what’s happening and doesn’t match up with the payer’s orientation. It’s just disorienting.
Mordheim’s tutorials aren’t woven into the game proper, instead being off in their own section that requires a lot of time to get through. Needless to say, a lot of patience is required up front, and just jumping in to learn as one goes leaves a lot of questions. When beginning a campaign, I think the game was telling me I needed a hero… or did I have one? And then I had other slots on my team to fill, but I wasn’t quite sure how, or what I needed in those slots. I’m no stranger to turn-based strategy, but this one had me mystified with impenetrable presentation and a real lack of streamlining for console.
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, the game begins with a whole lot of text with a voiceover – basically telling without much showing. As a Warhammer novice, none of it meant much, and the trend just continues as the game goes on — more text comes, and little of it feels relevant or significant.
As for the performance? Well, there are a lot of loooong load times, the enemy can be glacial when taking its turn, the graphics are basic and the animation’s janky. Little to celebrate here.
I’m not quite ready to give up on the Warhammer universe in videogame form just yet, but as for Mordheim: City of the Damned, this one’s not ready for prime time. Maybe people who are bigger fans than I am will find some value here, but me?
Giving this one a hard pass.