For some of us gamers, the simple concept of building your own haunted mansion filled with traps, laboratories, monsters, and various other sundries for terrifying and slaughtering stupid people who wander in is an instant “YES!” Maybe it’s nostalgia for the schlock B-movies of an age gone by, maybe for other games that have come and gone. Regardless of the reason, the genre has its draws and a quality sim in this vein could pull an instant audience. Unfortunately, Machiavillain does not live up to the nostalgia it creates.
In Machiavillain, you play a…something that controls several monsters who help you build your Barbie nightmare house, all the while collecting resources, inviting unsuspecting people to your strangely built doors, and killing them one by one. Immediately, my brain was flooded with memories of one of my favorite all-time games, Dungeon Keeper. This was my first mistake. While Machiavillain sits in the same genre as DK, it does not live up to the past.
It is difficult to articulate what the letdown is, but something really feels missing from the game. The art is cute, which can be a real plus, but the faux-grainy style of the entire UI detracts. There is a fog of war around the undefined area of your domain where things can happen that you hear, your monsters investigate, and…nothing. Not in a scary way, just in a “why is there blood here? I could have used some more meat” kind of way. The resource gathering system is hardly intuitive and the monsters rarely act as directed, often becoming idle after being given instructions with no reason given for their idleness.
With longer play and more practice, I’m sure Machiavillain would be more accessible and allow for smoother gameplay with more mayhem and indiscriminate slaughter. I just haven’t been impressed enough to find out.
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!