Published on March 11th, 2016 | by Alayna Cole
Gremlins, Inc. PC review
Summary: Cheat, steal, and bribe your way to victory while destroying your friendships in this digital boardgame.
Gremlins, Inc. is a wacky digital boardgame with steampunk graphics, an electro-swing soundtrack, and conniving gremlins who need your help to cheat, steal, and bribe their way to victory. You can play single-player against AI or multiplayer against online challengers, but the real fun begins when playing multiplayer against your real-life friends, destroying your relationships by thieving their best cards and throwing them in jail.
At first the boardgame feels complicated, but mastering the strategies is immensely satisfying. There is a deck of 160+ cards, each of which can be used for movement points or to perform particular actions such as gaining resources or sabotaging other players. Deciding how to use each card to best serve your purposes and win the game can create some inner conflicts, but the adjustable timer means you can’t always ponder your choices for long. This management of your hand is coupled with further resource management of money, power, malice, and prestige, which need to be juggled to achieve your goals.
Victory conditions are varied from session to session, and this can also dramatically alter the duration of games. You can set the victory condition to highest prestige after a particular number of rounds or length of time for a more controlled duration, or players may be required to reach a certain amount of prestige or use all of their ‘chaos’ cards to win. I have played games as short as fifteen minutes and as long as an hour and a half, and each has required different strategies.
Gremlins, Inc. is filled with events and random misfortunes that can drastically change the leaderboard. For instance, every twenty turns an election is held, and the player with the most power is voted Governor. In this role, you no longer need to pay bribes or be checked by the police, and this completely alters the ways you choose to move around the board.
The general aesthetic of Gremlins, Inc. is right up my alley. The steampunk vibe is captured perfectly through beautiful character portraits and the map that the game board is superimposed on top of. Each of the areas on the map glow when you hover your mouse over them, which is a nice touch. In some ways, I think the game would benefit from a more simplified user interface, as it can be quite overwhelming and I somehow struggle to remember where everything is and what it all means; however, the UI cannot be faulted for how accurately it adheres to the steampunk theme.
The music is also perfectly connected to art style. When I first opened the game, I stayed on the menu screen much longer than I needed to because I loved the theme music. It’s the sort of music that makes you realise immediately that you are going to love a game experience, and I was not disappointed when I finally tore myself away from the electro-swing and dove into the tutorials.
I’m generally not a fan of tutorials, but those in Gremlins, Inc. are just right. They aren’t too long, they only cover the key mechanics, and they’re filled with the funny quips of a helpful gremlin teacher. They allow you to get into the game with enough key knowledge that you don’t instantly want to quit. Some of the friends that I played with in the multiplayer mode skipped the tutorial levels, and struggled to enjoy their first session as a result. This is a strategy game that definitely takes practice.
Gremlins, Inc. is still in early access, but it doesn’t feel like it. The mechanics are complex, but clever; the aesthetic is awesome and well-executed; and the overall experience of the game is filled with the sort of frustrating competition that reminds me of Monopoly without the ability for one player to totally dominate the game. I love each of the gremlins (and would enjoy the chance to choose which gremlin I play as in each game, rather than them being randomly assigned) as well as the game overall. I will definitely be adding Gremlins, Inc. to my regular multiplayer game rotation.
Title: Gremlins, Inc.
Developer: Alexey Bokulev, Sergei Klimov, Charlie Oscar Lima Tango Interactive Entertainment
Publisher: Yukitama Creative Industries
Rating: Not Rated
Reviewer: Alayna Cole