MachiaVillain Review For PC
MachiaVillain is a game that could so easily have been a complete mess. While the central premise is undoubtedly great, the flash-game art style and cheesy voice-overs give it a low budget feel which is so rarely good for a simulation game. Luckily, smart systems and a forgiving tutorial segment make the game way better than it has any right to be, and when it finds its feet, it’s truly a joy to play.
MachiaVillain is a horror management sim from Wild Factor, the team behind Freaking Meatbags, which tasks players with building and maintaining a mansion filled with monsters, traps, and four-star quality amenities. It presents a refreshing take on the management sim genre, in that the player must build a mansion to attract victims which they later entrap and murder. It’s a concept which never gets old, and is the catalyst for much of the game’s humor and wacky charm. It would have been easy for the team to simply drop the player into the game with a brief text-dump and a passing explanation for the fiendish premise to follow but instead, there’s a genuinely funny introduction which sets the tone for the game moving forward. So many simulation games stumble during their opening minutes, failing to convey information and ending up being overwhelming. MachiaVillain forgoes this by presenting very clear objectives with low stakes and low penalties for failure. The first hour is a blast, as you go from an empty lot to building your very first room and start luring victims to their doom.
Shortly after that though, the game just sort of stops giving the player goals to work towards and things quickly become a bit of a slog. The path to the third rank, in particular, really grates after a while. You’re expected to kill 30 victims, which really pumps the brakes on any plans you might have in regards to building the monster mansion of your dreams. It’s the push and pull between what you want to be doing and what you feel you should be doing that really holds the game back in these early hours. Luckily the controls, and menus in general, are a breeze to use so it’s easy to automate almost everything and progress quickly. The method of assigning jobs is particularly intuitive. Each monster has a three star rating next to each possible job, and you can assign tasks in order of priority. This means that monsters will get on with their tasks with very little input from the player. There comes a point in the game, though, where things really turn a corner, after which most of its problems start to fade into the background. Once the player has built each type of room and can craft machinery, preserve food, and start to automate the majority of the mansion’s functions, it becomes much easier to focus on decorating, and luring in victims.
MachiaVillain values the player’s time for the most part. There are options to speed up time, stack tasks, and the game can be saved at almost any point. The way the game handles sleep is a little frustrating though, as monsters tend to spend a significant amount of their time completely out of the action (who knew monsters had to sleep too?). There’s very little to do in these moments, which can be extra annoying when you’re raring to mine more resources or build out a new room. The way time advances in the game can also be a little jarring, and it can be difficult to plan out each day accordingly.
MachiaVillain is surprisingly deep, offering up a dense web of systems which are simple to grasp but tricky to master. Each monster has its own skill tree, with different attacks and passive abilities unlocked over time. As more and more monsters join your team, more possibilities are added to the game. Each murder starts to become an exercise in experimentation and careful planning, though the silly humor stops things from ever getting too serious.
The game’s dark sense of humor is absolutely its greatest asset. Luring in a victim with a shiny new TV set and a nice lamp before siccing a werewolf on them is always a good time, and watching as your monsters race to clean the blood and guts off of the floor in time for the next visitors is genuinely hilarious. It’s this twisted approach to the more traditional hotel sim genre that shines through. In many ways, the core experience is no different from that of The Sims. You’re basically trying to make your surroundings as appealing and inviting as possible so that hapless humans will be comfortable enough to stick around. There are bonuses applied to killing victims in certain ways, so running a hospitable establishment is key. When set against the backdrop of a group of mummies trying to put up lamps and bookshelves, it all becomes charming as hell, and the sporadic cutscenes involving the player’s brief tangles with monster bureaucracy add hilarious context to the madness.
The low-budget approach to both the audio and the visuals does ultimately hold the game back from greatness though. It can be difficult to distinguish between items, and the screen gets incredibly dark at times. The soundtrack really doesn’t lend itself to long play sessions, given how repetitive it gets over time. It’s a shame, because the gameplay is solid, I just wish more care had gone into making the screen less busy and more user-friendly. The cutscenes are a different story, each being a real treat to behold and often containing nods to iconic horror movies.
Once things start to fall into place, and the monster mansion starts to become self-sufficient, the game becomes more about building and customization, which is by no means a bad thing. Some may find the lack of mission variety a little boring though, but may be swayed by the prospect of building individual bedrooms for each of their monster minions. Eventually, as things start to become more and more autonomous, MachiaVillain is a great game to just sit back and admire. It’s undoubtedly compelling to watch your monster-run hotel slowly grow larger and more efficient. There’s definitely a limit to the proceedings, however, and I found myself hitting a wall over time. Still, the journey up to this point was a fun one, and definitely worth the asking price.
MachiaVillain is a monster hotel management sim that definitely deserves your time. The brief moments of frustration and confusion are outweighed by genuinely hilarious moments of dark humor and satisfying management-sim bliss. If you’re a fan of the genre, or maybe looking for a more casual management experience, MachiaVillain is a fun and smart offering, which is way deeper and more satisfying than it has any right to be.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
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