Like the title suggests, Mordheim – City of the Damned is not a happy place. It’s full of looming buildings crammed with hiding places and pretty much everything and anything wants you and your band of companion’s dead. As well as the other warband that is trying to beat you into submission, the city is full of traps and demons that will attack anything in sight. Mordheim will make you rethink every decision and plan for every eventuality in order to save your members from possible permanent death.
The story takes place in the titular city of Mordheim in a time ravaged by war. Corruption and greed is running rife within its walls before an apocalyptic twin-tailed comet strikes the city. Small black-green stones called Wyrdstones appeared throughout the ruined city which boast great powers; The stones can heal the sick, bring back the dead, turn base metals into gold and mutate the weak into monsters. Thus begins a battle of factions trying to fight their way through the city’s mutated ex-residents and each other in order to claim the precious resource.
You take control of one of 5 factions, each with their own agenda, in order to reap as much Wyrdstone as possible. The original four factions are The Sisters of Sigmar, Human Mercenaries, The Cult of the Possessed and The Skaven and the console version includes The Witch Hunters DLC as standard. Each faction has a similar base playstyle, members can have 2 weapons, some ranged some melee and each faction has unique heroes and henchman, with a range of skills and spells.
There isn’t much else in terms of story but between the faction campaigns, there is a huge amount of lore available for those willing to delve into it.
Mordheim is a gloomy city and the graphics do a good job of keeping it atmospheric. The mist helps to keep the city looking menacing and the buildings have a good level of detail. The characters are well modelled and each have their own personality which comes through. He game isn’t the most impressive on the next gen consoles and could easily have looked at home on the last generation. Due to the game being entirely set in Mordheim, there is very little variety in the surroundings although some interesting lighting effects and differing times of day help break up the monotony.
Mordheim – City of the Damned is a challenging affair. There are 4 playable tutorials to help you get to grips with the way the game plays and a set of slideshows to explain the upgrades etc, but that’s about it. I admit, I don’t have the most experience when it comes to strategy games but I get the impression that most will find themselves losing a LOT of matches while getting into the swing of the game.
Gameplay is similar to other strategy based squad titles. The top of the screen has a bar showing which order both players and enemies will take their turn allowing for strategic planning of how the round will go. When it is your turn, you have a set number of blue points to move your character or perform actions and a number of red points to attack/perform spells/set up ambushes etc. Unfortunately, when it’s your opponents turn, you pretty much have to wait till they are finished, you can use the map but I found the wait a little tedious at times, a way to speed this up would be appreciated.
If a teammate falls in battle, they are taken out of play at the end of the round. Most objectives are to take out the enemy team or make them flee, usually by taking out over half of their warband and causing them to fail a rout test. The game is as much about scavenging as winning as gold plays a huge part in how you progress your warband.
When the battle ends you are taken to your camp in order to get your affairs in order before advancing to the next day. In this time, you can manage your warband and customize them as you see fit as well as paying your mercenaries and tending to wounds and injuries…. if you can afford it. There will be times when you haven’t scavenged as much as you need to pay everyone so you accrue interest and risk your warband disbanding, leaving you back at square one. Apart from losing progress, the characters become almost attached to you, each has a name giving the personal touch and after several gruelling battles, it’s hard not to want to keep your team together.
The game shines with its depth, which is both a blessing and a curse. When it comes to upgrades and item, there is a huge amount of choices which some will love but others may find overwhelming. There are also no right ways to play the game, the strategy is up to you, go out in a group to overwhelm single opponents or split up and hide in the many nooks and crannies to ambush the enemy.
Mordheim – City of the Damned is a deep strategy title with a multitude of customization options and a plethora of ways to play. The city is atmospheric and really draws you into the doom and gloom that is Mordheim although the graphics are a little disappointing for a current gen title and could have been a little more polished. The game is pretty unforgiving to new players which might be seen as off putting and can take a long while to get into with a punishing learning curve but is rewarding for those who are willing to give it a chance.