By: Ted Chow
Stemming from Warhammer, the critically acclaimed IP from Games Workshop, Mordheim: City of the Damned is an interesting addition to the Warhammer lore. Primarily a third-person tactical turn-based game, Mordheim takes the best aspects of the intricate Warhammer rule set, while packaging everything in a solid visual and gameplay experience.
If you’re a fan of the franchise and the methodical tabletop experience, look no further, as Mordheim is one game to get your digital RNG dices warm and ready to roll.
Given the third-person nature of a tactical game, the camera angles following your characters across the alley walls and buildings need to be crisp and precise. Thankfully, everything is as you would expect and is an immersive experience in its own. Characters can hide behind walls and set ambushes with the visual impeccability needed to provide that surprising around-the-corner factor.
With full WASD support, the game plays like any polished third-person title, and the translation from the tabletop feels like a natural evolution worthy of the franchise.
With a weight of grit and despair clearly shown in the color palette and overall atmosphere, Mordheim captures that feeling of Warhammer’s brutality. At a standstill, environments look broody and characters living in the world feel chiseled with brutal reality.
The city of Mordheim feels like an abandoned ruin left to fester with chaos and malignant intentions. The soundtrack is also moody with dark acoustics to provide the expected Warhammer ambience.
Mordheim thrives in the permanent brutality it provides in the choices and decisions you make. Every step you take, someone is watching you laying in wait. While moves can be retracted for better positioning, you are only able to travel a set distance based on a character’s number of action points.
Intricate layers of initiative roles and other factors determine much of the combat, tactics and strategies needed for your war band to survive the challenges. When members are put out of combat, items can be lost, debuff or “injuries” can be accumulated and permanent death is also a doorstep away. Akin to other hardcore titles such as Darkest Dungeon, this game emulates a sense of emotional investment well.
Story wise, Mordheim is set as an enclave of prosperity where much of the bloodied events were left outside its walls. With time, however, human nature will become corrupt and fester into malevolence worthy of the gods’ attention. Now, the city stands as a crucifix of human fallacy and hosts evil creatures and resources called wyrdstones.
As one of four playable races, you’ll vie for these stones as they hold substantial mystical powers. Benefactors will support your expedition in exchange for these stones, and it places the player in an all-out bloodbath between factions for wealth, glory and other intentions.
Another major point that translated well from the tabletop experience would be the level of character customization. From the patch colors to the overall face models, Mordheim provides some degree of that miniature painting feature of Warhammer.
While not as extensive as the Dawn of War franchise’s level of color customization, the abilities, skills, passives, crafting and weapons within Mordheim gives the game a level of role playing that is far more extensive than just swapping out textures.
What adds to the immersion is the fact that members of your war band need to be paid upkeep and will be unavailable for missions if unpaid, injured or even while training to acquire new skills. Customizing your skills or weapons will come at a cost, and it is strategically imperative to adjust your party composition accordingly.
Lastly, to make your party more your own, the war band’s name can be changed as well as the heroes you hire and the bios you wish to provide them with for additional fluff.
Multiplayer is also a prime way to bring your war band to the online stage and challenge tougher players. Two modes are available: exhibition and rank. Exhibition has no penalties to your war band and any injuries or loss of equipment is cleared at the end of the match.
Ranked play will act similarly to the normal campaign and characters can lose their weapons, loot or even their life permanently. With high stakes on the line, plenty of preparation is needed to go live with your team.
Mordheim: City of the Damned is an exciting take on Warhammer‘s tabletop experience by bringing the intricacies of the rule set and the grittiness of the lore. While the game isn’t completely finalized, as of this writing, the gameplay feels solid and rich with content.
Fans of the franchise won’t be disappointed by the level of thought and care within Mordheim. Overall, Mordheim is a strong third-person tactical turn-based game that captures the essence of Warhammer and is a fine addition to both the genre and the franchise.