I can’t pass up a management simulation game. They scratch an itch that I feel far too often, and when the developers are able to get it perfect, then it satisfies that urge very well. Then there are other games that don’t quite showcase the genre quite as well, and I come out feeling a little less satisfied. MachiaVillain is a different type of management simulation game – a type that I’ve not really played before – and I couldn’t wait to see what was in store for me.
House of Horrors
MachiaVillain isn’t necessarily a new genre, it’s an enhancement of an old one. Fans of the Dungeon Keeper series might recognise it as being quite similar to that game in theme if nothing else. You take on the job as a villain, in charge of a newly founded haunted house, employing ghouls and other nasties from the underworld and tasking them with slaughtering the innocent people that come to visit by luring them into traps you’ve built. The layout of your monster mansion is entirely up to you as well, you can make a mazy labyrinth for unsuspecting victims to get lost in, or you can have a giant, single roomed building in which to maul anyone that walks in. I’m always a sucker for this level of freedom when it comes to building, so this really hits the spot for me.
There is another bright spot for MachiaVillain, and it isn’t actually to do with the game. Wild Factor, the developers, are keeping up with what their players are saying and continually releasing patches to enhance their game. The continued commitment to the game can only be a good thing, as they’ll keep making it better than it currently is, patching it up and adding features to ensure the game is as fantastic as it can be.
Boo. I guess.
Being in a state of perceived incompletion is not a good state for a game, but that is the vibe I am getting out of MachiaVillain. It feels like Wild Factor only ever thought people would be keen to play the game for a few hours at most, so that’s all they tested for. There’s a definite point that, if you manage to rack up double digit hours in the game, your save will become corrupt and you won’t be able to perfect your lair. A number of people other than me also experienced this, so, unfortunately for the devs, it doesn’t seem like a one off.
There’s also the extreme lack of balancing once you reach mid-to-end game as well. It’s all well and good when you’re bringing in a few humans for the murdering, but when you start expanding your base, it costs materials. You do have minions to harvest these materials, but I must’ve been incredibly stupid because I couldn’t see a way to queue items up for my minions to perform, which made it irritatingly slow, but then there was also the fact that the cost of constructing things skyrocket as you get through the opening few hours. It wouldn’t be so bad if, at an earlier stage, you had to wait a significant period for things to build, but everything goes by pretty damn quickly at the start. It would be slightly more okay if, at the start of the game, things took longer than half a second to do.
Even though I mentioned that the devs tested MachiaVillain before, I’m not convinced they did do any. There are a plethora of bugs in the game, which can have some game-breaking consequences. The bugs can range from simple things like plants growing inside your haunted house, to more serious things like not getting paid when you sell off a minion. The lost money could be the difference between a successful house and disaster, so it definitely does grate a bit when it all goes tits up.
The Final Word
Sloppy and riddled with fixable bugs, I can’t remember a time where I felt quite so let down. It’s a good thing the devs are being so reactive to the reports and releasing frequent patches, because this game still needs a lot of work. If it was in Steam’s Early Access, then it would be a lot more forgivable, but as a full release, this game is something you just have to skip.