I saw MachiaVillain on KickStarter some time ago. It was an early state, but I made a note to contact the developers about it when the game was complete. This I did, and they kindly sent me a key.
The Kickstarter was successfully funded by 553 backers who pledged a whopping €24,082. Since Survive the Nights I had decided to stop backing Kickstarter games until they were in a tangible state and I truly regret not taking the plunge with MachiaVillain.
I love micro-management titles, I like Prison Architect a lot but there is less to do in terms of looking after individuals. You look after the prison as a whole but with MachiaVillain you have far fewer minions to take care of, it means you can address their individual needs and taking care of my minions, making sure they have food and are well rested, levelling up their skills and assigning them to their specialised tasks was far more involving than any game I have ever played.
MachiaVillain is a management sim, you must build a house of horrors and then entice the populace to come and spend time with you. Whilst they are distracted you lovingly attack and murder them so that you can cook their bodies and eat their brains. This is done without prejudice and is meant in a loving murder way.
To achieve this goal you can use letters, emails and printed flyers, this will induce an enticing, then, when the “guests” arrive you can just outright attack them or, if you are a shrewder, more ingenious type of monster, you could distract them, split them up and then pick them off one by one in a fiendish trap.
The story in MachiaVillain is basic and largely redundant but sufficed to say, you were once a minion and now you have a shot at being the big man, the head honcho, top cat, TC, the leader of it all. After getting a plot of evil land from the League of Machiavellian Villains at the Department of Evil Domains you can begin to play the game.
You start out with three minions, they can be chosen from four monsters, Mummies, Zombies, Skeletons and Psychopaths. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses and each of these four classes again will have their own skill set.
Picking the right team on your first playthrough will be impossible but as the start of a game is essentially a tutorial it doesn’t matter too much.
As you play the game you will be given the option to unlock new, different monsters. The Kickstarter shows that Wild Factor had hoped to have up to 30 different types of monster available however, there are currently only 13 so I expect more to come in future updates.
Currently, you can unlock, Werewolves, Dracula, Toxin Master, Frankenstein, Pumpkin Head, Medusa, Dr Frankenstein, Killer Clowns and the evilest of all the monsters, a Tire.
You will need to manage these degenerates to complete tasks issued via selection and through a job list. Depending on the level of the minion you will be able to assign them to a certain number of roles, this could be maintenance, cooking, chopping wood, mining, building, storing resources, extinguishing fires, working in the factory or laboratory, training, collecting plants, rearm traps or the most important role, working in the home office.
The home office is where you create your invites to attract victims to your lair. Having a minion with a reasonably high skill in letter writing will help a lot initially because you only have a small amount of food. After this is gone you are on your own and it will be a few days before you can start to smoke your own food. A fresh supply of meat, brains, blood and bone is going to be essential.
Each of the minion classes in MachiaVillain requires a specific foodstuff so having a balanced team able to complete a variety of tasks efficiently as well as needing different foods is essential to doing well.
I made the mistake of having an entire Zombie troop, figuring it would be easy to add more minions because I could “turn” some of my victims into minions. Having a team all requiring the same food meant I was very quickly making adjustments.
Even though the minions will work autonomously you will be managing their tasks and it will be necessary to change priorities constantly depending on the current crisis. You may have victims incoming but still, have blood and body parts in your murder room so it will be all hands on deck to clean up before your new victims arrive.
Some roles will require you to set areas too, for example, if you set a minion to chop wood or mine stone they will do nothing unless you tell them which wood or stone to mine. You can priorities which roles are more important but you cannot do this on an individual basis for each minion. This is something I would like to see added in a future update as this would help out with a lot of tasking.
When you are all set up, have your resources ready, a mansion built and running pretty well you would think you might get a little break. No, it’s at this point that the proverbial faecal matter hits the bladed air recycling system. Not content with just storms that start fires or your minions getting in a rage and damaging your mansion because they aren’t happy with the lack of “evil” in the air, MachiaVillain likes to throw you a curve ball and heroes will periodically turn up and try and kill your beloved Mummy.
That’s right, level up a character, provide them with food, shelter and all manner of gruesome objet d’art and a bunch of goody two shoes will turn up and try and maul them to death.
Its testament to the developers that you become so invested in keeping your minions happy and alive and I feel genuinely distressed when one of my beautiful little creatures dies. You can revive them but it costs 2000 “evilium”. A little potion of pure evil you get from doing some murder, death, kills. You don’t get that much per murder and I have usually spent mine unlocking new monster types or advertising for hired hands.
The building mechanics in MachiaVillain are fabulous. You essentially lay out an area with whatever material you have chosen and your builder minion will construct it for you. You lay out a wall, fill the interior with a floor add a door and a bed and you have a nice little bedroom. Add a research board and chemistry bench and the room becomes a laboratory. The game is very astute and understands the room you are building and will prompt you to add walls, doors or floors should you forget.
At the front of my mansion, I like to have my victim room. In here I place things to distract my invited guests, a tv or bookcase, a few little traps or a saw in the wall to cut them in half. There are rules for killing though, firstly, make sure you are not seen in the act, secondly, separate everyone, thirdly, kill the virgin last and finally, NEVER KILL THE DOG.
Initially, I was a little worried about the longevity of the game. There are only a few room types. Once you have built them you can use the laboratory for research, this will allow you to unlock enhancements for each room. For example in the kitchen, you can build a smoker to make your food last indefinitely or in the factory, you can build an additional table that will allow you to craft cogs and bricks which in turn will allow you to build more elaborate and mechanical traps.
On my first playthrough I had unlocked everything quite quickly but oddly enough, I was never bored, there was always something to do and always some crisis I had to manage. The game balance is almost perfect but I do hope that in future patches more rooms and more research is added perhaps making the early game a little longer or harder and have more items to research will give you more time to plan and replan your diabolical lair. I spent a good deal of my playtime refining my mansion, changing the layout of a room or adding to the side to make a room larger. The victim room is particularly culpable as the time thief here. The room I have in my current game is not as big as you would think but the victims all get separated and no one ever escapes.
All this murder will raise suspicions about you so if you want to keep the victims coming you will need to add things to your victim rooms to keep them calm while you maul them. Initially you have no choice but to jump out and beat everyone to death in full view of each other but eventually, you will have people watching TV while their friend/parent/child is whisked away behind a revolving wall only to be impaled on spikes or cut in two by a huge saw in the wall.
Perhaps this is the area of the game that could do with some more variety. I hope the devs get to see this review, the game is fantastic but we will need some new things soon, maybe Steam Workshop could be called upon to help create the perfect murderous traps.
So the game is perfect go and buy it. Well not quite. Not counting food there are essentially 6 resources you need, Wood, Evil Wood, Stone, Metal, gold and Mushrooms. Wood and Mushrooms will come back after a long time, however, stone, metal and gold, once gone, they are gone. Currently, I have not made it this far, but I have been reading other people griping on Steam about it and I for one would agree, stone and gold should respawn, the tree regrowth rates should be faster or how about a system whereby we can plant a tree or research a mine so that we can send a minion off just gathering stone/gold.
Merchants will turn up from time to time and should they take to long you can call them for a fee however, I would like the ability to sustain myself once I have things worked out and working well.
So MachiaVillain is not perfect, there is room for improvement but the basics are there for a great game and I am definitely having a lot of fun with it. I have spent hours climbing the ranks of the MachiaVillain League, unlocking new monster types and dealing with crisis after crisis. I have had no issues with stability, crashes or game breaking bugs. The game runs fabulously on my modest system at 1440p, it appears to be locked at 60FPS but that could be something to do with my recording software.
MachiaVillain is one of the finest examples of its type. I would play this over many of my favourites and with a few additions this game would be perfect. If you like to set things up and go then this game isn’t for you because when you have everything running perfectly you will need to intervene and stop a spider attack or protect yourself from a lightning storm. If you like management games, then you will find it hard to beat especially at its £14.99 price point.