Ever wonder what it would be like to actually be the bad guy? To have your very own minions at your beck and call to do your bidding? To build a huge mansion, complete with laboratories, bedrooms, kitchens, corridors with secret doors, hidden saw blades, and conveyor belts? Ever want to invite some folks to dinner, only to serve them up as the main course? Yeah, turns out it’s tougher than it sounds!
MachiaVillain, brought to us by the developers at Wild Factor, places you in charge of a crew of minions and lets the player manage them to build a house, design traps, lure hapless victims in to their doom, and build up prestige, hopefully all without drawing enough suspicion from the locals to merit a “Welcome” party, complete with pitchforks and torches. The player starts off with three minions (your choice, don’t forget to use the shuffle button to randomly generate different options!), some food, some gold, and a couple of health potions on a plot of land given by the League of Villains. While you can eventually clear the land and make a huge mansion, at first you’ll have to clear out a small area and build a basic house with the barest of necessities.
The real-time management of the minions, taking care of their food requirements, making sure they have beds, keeping them busy, and ensuring their loyalty doesn’t drop too low is just the beginning. You also have to build your house, complete with a “Victim” section to lull them into a false sense of security, research for advanced decor and building materials, farm stone, wood and evil wood, iron and gold, clear land for expansion, and so on.
One of the things that I most enjoyed about MachiaVillain was the fact that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Many times I found myself just smiling while watching what was going on and laughing out loud while reading. The graphics, while simplistic, work very well with the sounds and descriptions to complete an overall “tongue-in-cheek” humor and ambiance of the game. The way the walls, equipment, furniture, and floors look almost hand-drawn, the actions of your cook minions while chopping up “food”, minions tossing and turning in their beds, it all fits together and makes for a genuinely good time.
That being said, the controls leave a bit to be desired. It can sometimes be awkward to command minions to take specific actions, left clicking instead of right clicking, selecting the wrong victim for them to attack, or trying to have your minions attack with their special abilities. However, being able to speed up, slow down, and fully stop time at will is very beneficial to allow for clutch situations.
The management of the minions can at times seem a bit awkward as well, especially in the beginning. In contrast though, the minion job assignment feature and the ability to prioritize the tasks is a great feature and simple to set up (have one minion chop wood first, then move to process the parts of the victims into food for the minions, then clean up the mess). This takes care of a lot of the routine duties and the AI does a pretty good job. Feeding your minions to keep them happy is one of the main things you’ll struggle with at the outset. To provide them with food (meat, blood, brains, and bones) you send out invitations in the mail. The more invites, the more victims show up. When they come in it’s your choice as to whether to use traps or just swarm them with minions. After the party, the bodies and heads littering the floor get processed in the kitchen into the various types of food particular to each minion (blood for vampires, brains for zombies, etc.).
The building options are limited at first. However, it doesn’t take too long to research useful equipment and advanced building supplies and parts (the smoker so food doesn’t spoil, the evil axe so evil trees can’t hit your minions, and so on.). Then the traps start making their appearance, and you can start planning and designing the diabolical demise of your victims. One of my favorite features is the ability to get 100% of your materials back when you disassemble the parts of the mansion because the trap is in the wrong place, or your refrigerator is facing the wrong way, or you just need more room. So feel free to experiment!
After a brief acclimation period, MachiaVillain gave me hours and hours of fun, and I continue to enjoy playing it, devising new and creative traps for victims, building a more efficient dwelling place for my minions, and just playing around in general. Yes, there are a few issues, but nothing I consider to be game-breaking. All in all, MachiaVillain is one of those games that you can pick up and laugh at and with while you play, which I love. Everything from item and minion descriptions to the graphics and effects, the goofy fun and dark humor is evident throughout. I’m excited to see what the developers add to this already great title.