MachiaVillain - Review

MachiaVillain is an evil mansion management game, developed by French studio Wildfactor (Freaking Meatbags) and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment (Train Fever, Hard Reset & Oh... Sir! The Insult Simulator).  The game released on 18th of May 2018 and the devs very kindly provided me with a key recently to write this article.

The game started life as a prototype developed during a Ludum Dare Game Jam.  Receiving positive feedback from the event, and attracting a grant from the French Government, the team were able to expand and fully develop the game.  The developers drew inspiration from a variety of places including Dungeon Keeper, Prison Architect and all the clich├ęs of 50s B movies.
You are tasked by the League of Mechiavellian Villains with running a haunted mansion.  Unfortunately they have only provided you with a meagre supply of resources and a piece of land in the middle of a forest.  They do also provide you with 3 minions who will do your bidding.  When you start you are given a choice of a number of minions, each with different abilities such as how many jobs they can have assigned, which jobs they are better at and various traits like coffee maniac which reduced sleep requirement or quick feet which increases movement speed, but they also have weaknesses, for example send your vampire minions outside during the day and they will lose health.  These minions are 'brain dead' in that they can't think for themselves and must be assigned jobs or they will stand around doing nothing.

The first order of business is to clear some space so that you can build, and then establish a home office so that you can write invites to lure your unsuspecting victims to the mansion.  To do this you will need to set areas of resources such as trees and stone to be cleared by your minions.  It's easy at this point to wonder why they are just standing about. As I mentioned earlier they can't think for themselves, so you also need to assign the individual minions to resource gathering in the jobs screen.  Once you have some space, there are various rooms you can build which will allow you to progress in your mission to become the ultimate Machiavillain.  Building a room is as simple as placing down floor tiles and surrounding these with walls and a door.  The type of room is determined by what items you place in the room, for example a writing desk will make a home office, beds will make a bedroom and a butchers table will make a kitchen.  The first room you will need is a home office.  Without this you won't be able to attract your victims... umm guests, to visit your mansion.  Once you have placed your writing desk you will need to assign someone to make adverts.  Once you have some you can select an ad campaign such as 'You Have Won A Luxury Cruise' which will determine the number, and types, of victims who will come.

The starting ad campaigns available to you
Once your victims arrive you don't want to spook them too quickly.  You can make rooms with specific items, such as lights, televisions and bookcases, which will put them at ease but if they see your minions or blood on the floor from previous visitors they will become increasingly suspicious.  These victims will be the food source for your minions, but you can't just kill them without some planning.  Initially you will just want to hide your minions whilst the victims arrive and then attack once they have arrived.  As time goes on though you can build a lab and research new items.  These will allow you to build items such as traps and false walls making it easier to separate and kill your victims.  The League of Mechiavellian Villains also have a series of rules they expect you to follow.  Most importantly you should try to kill the victims when they are on their own.  Failure to do this will result in a slight penalty. 

Clearing stone whilst building a room for victims with other minions
In addition to building your mansion and attracting your victims, you must also look after the needs of your minions.  As mentioned earlier some minions must stay inside during the day or will lose health.  They also need to get time to rest and fed.  Failure to provide these needs will result in lowered loyalty.  Minions with a low loyalty will not want to work for you.  There are various ways you can boost the loyalty by improving how you fulfil the needs.  For example, whilst they are less hungry when they eat they are unhappy if they have to do so standing or without a table to eat, and will be better rested (and happier) if they can sleep in a bed.  They also won't be happy if your mansion is of a low prestige and isn't spooky.  These are rectified fairly simply.  For the spookiness there are certain items (candles, skulls etc) which boost this rating for you minions.  The prestige is increased by having larger rooms with more and better items (similar to Two Point Hospital).

I find it difficult not to think of Don't Starve when playing this game.  This isn't a bad thing though and is probably due to the similar art style and the dull lighting, which add to the atmospheric of the game.  The cartoon graphics also make the game generally light hearted to go with the relatively black theme of the game.  Whilst I've only played this for a few hours so far I am thoroughly enjoying it and it has become one of those '5 more minutes' games when you suddenly realise that it's 2am.  I had also only scratched the surface of the possibilitoes with the items, primarily as I spend so long gathering resources and making rooms that I forget to make adverts to entice victims.  If you have a dark sense of humour and are looking for something which can while away a few hours then I'd say this game is very worth picking it.  It is available on Steam for $19.99/€19.99/£14.99

Also whilst the game is not an early access title, development is continuing with a current public beta for owners of an update including new items and features including electricity.

MachiaVillain - Review MachiaVillain - Review Reviewed by Parcival on November 07, 2018 Rating: 5

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