Mordheim: City of the Damned (PC) Review

By Brandon Howard 24.11.2015

Review for Mordheim: City of the Damned on PC

Mordheim: City of the Damned is based on the tabletop game of the same name, part of Games Workshop's larger Warhammer Fantasy setting. Set several hundred years before Warhammer Fantasy's main timeline, Mordheim tells the tale of the titular city being struck by a comet, causing a magical stone called Wyrdstone to be scattered through the now ruined city. Roving groups called Warbands fight for control of the stone, which contains arcane powers that fetch a high price in a troubled era for the Empire. Control the Wyrdstone, or get ground under the heel of those who do. Cubed3 now gives the verdict on the full release, after looking at an earlier version of the game at the beginning of the year.

Mordheim: City of the Damned gives the freedom to create a Warband from one of four different factions that fight for control of the city's only remaining resource, Wyrdstone. The differences between the factions do have some strategic choice, but largely come down to personal taste. With a starting amount of gold, characters can be recruited to create a basic Warband, with basic characters and equipment from a few categories, more of which can be unlocked later on. Characters do have their own unique specialties and skills, and creating a balanced squad can be key to success, even early on.

After composing a Warband, scouts can be sent out to discover various missions, ranging in difficulty, setting, reward, and overall risk. Consequences in Mordheim are lasting, and rushing in without carefully planning a course in any mission can spell an early end for any group. Missions generally pit two Warbands against each other in a variety of settings, fighting for control of a castle, or opposing forces meeting at a wagon crossing late at night. While setting and placement differ, the basic objective remains the same: defeat the enemy team before they do the same.

Screenshot for Mordheim: City of the Damned on PC

Characters progress one at a time across each map. Each character has a set of movement and combat points that can be used to take various actions. Generally, combat points are used for attacking, and movement points are generally used for moving and defence, although certain weapon types and special skills also use various combinations. Positioning and direction are important, and while routing the enemy does take priority, each stage has multiple extra objectives, such as collecting certain spoils from enemy units, or collecting Wyrdstone from out-of-the-way corners of the map.

Controls can be a little touchy. The camera is very responsive, and characters generally go in the direction ordered, but undoing movement sometimes leads to being trapped in a cellar or an attic. The map also doesn't lend itself well to planning out a course. While it gives a basic outline of the area and markings of where visible enemies and Wyrdstone are, it doesn't always give a clear example of where characters can and can't traverse, so it's entirely possible to send someone straight into a wall, only to have to send them all the way around the map, instead.

Completion of each mission awards Wyrdstone and, occasionally, items or gold that can be used to outfit the Warband. Each Warband also has an upkeep cost at the end of each mission, requiring a fee of gold for each character deployed. Characters that fall in battle will have a healing cost and must wait out several missions before they can be redeployed. Collecting Wyrdstone is paramount because of this, as selling it to a faction's benefactors becomes the only consistent source of income.

Screenshot for Mordheim: City of the Damned on PC

Managing this can become very challenging very fast. It's easy for a single character to quickly fall to a couple of enemies, upping the gold cost needed after each battle. Since selling Wyrdstone is the primary source of income, it's important to balance combat with scouting and securing it from around the map. Looting enemies that have already combed the area for it is an entirely valid strategy, so careful planning can easily complete multiple objectives at once.

Mordheim is a grim, grisly town, and that reflects in the slowly evolving story of each Warband. Characters that fall in battle can be forever changed, permanently losing a limb or worse. Not only does this develop the character of each group, but it also adds gameplay alterations, as well. Someone who loses an arm, for instance, might be unable to wield two-handed weapons or scale a ladder, but now might be able to dodge attacks twenty percent more effectively. It gives a sense of realism, as certain actions, successes, or failures result in lasting effects for the Warband.

Screenshot for Mordheim: City of the Damned on PC

There is a very steep learning curve in Mordheim. While there are a plethora of tutorials, they're separate from the main campaign, and jumping right into campaign mode will generally lead to a lot of early missteps. While combat itself is fairly intuitive, a lot of the detailed rules behind placement, weapons, outfitting, and general strategy can sometimes feel a bit oppressive if there isn't a full understanding of the mechanics. While not prohibitive early on, the difficulty curve quickly outpaces entry level knowledge, so a thorough undertaking of the tutorials does a lot to ensure lasting success in Mordheim.

Mordheim itself is a town long past the brink of destruction. Ruined buildings and houses abound, and the strange powers of the Wyrdstone have caused strange mutations and horrors to infest a once fair city. City of the Damned illustrates this excellently, and the music and environments really help cement the tale of a group in a struggle against a world truly larger than itself. Each step through the ruined world paints a picture of what Mordheim has become.

Everyone in Mordheim is suffering, and each Warband feels that keenly, while struggling to maintain loyalty, health, and each faction's own individual goals. While some might try to save the world from what may be a new blight, others might take advantage and turn the situation for personal gain. Few might still rise against the odds and become a new hope for the damned city, while most will get trampled beneath.

Screenshot for Mordheim: City of the Damned on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Mordheim: City of the Damned is stacked with every odd against those who live in its ruined streets. While a fun, challenging, and sometimes all too dehumanising experience, a steep learning curve and tricky management systems can make for a meaty dish locked behind a very tough shell. Still, it's definitely more than worth the time it takes to learn its systems, and strategy and tabletop gaming fans should definitely take the time to look at this excellent adaptation.

Developer

Rogue Factor

Publisher

Focus Home Interactive

Genre

Strategy

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
K-Pop Korner - The Best of Korean Music
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
hinchjoie, Ofisil

There are 2 members online at the moment.