Machiavillain is a portmanteau of machiavellian (cunning and duplicitous), and villain which aptly sums up the general tone and feel of this game. The creators were clearly raised on B-list horror flicks and classic monster movies, and having been brought up as such, they have remembered the most important tropes with which a monster movie must adhere. Victims are to be killed by themselves, the virgin dies last, and you do not ever, I repeat, EVER kill the dog. No matter how much of a pain it is.
But perhaps … I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. You see, this is a base sim / micromanagement game where you control monsters (mummies, skeletons, psychopaths, vampires, so on) to build a mansion out in the middle of nowhere, on a tiny unmarked road. Each of your workers has aptitudes in the numerous tasks they can do, and can be assigned to these categories in order to automatically select tasks to do within their options.
The jobs matrix reminds me of Oxygen Not Included in this regard. You build a house, you decorate it, and you lure unsuspecting fools to your home. How do you do that, though? Mail spam, of course! One of your monsters will painstakingly craft five envelopes stuffed with spam advertising free jewelry (or some equally implausible hook), mail them out, and then the next day, two victims come to your home. That is what they are to you. Victims.
This isn’t a hotel management sim where your guests’ comfort and rating is at the top of your worries. Instead, you bludgeon them to death with your minions, chop them up into their requisite pieces, and then your monsters will eat them when they get hungry. If you stop luring people to your home, eventually your minions will starve. If you have no minions left, that’s a game over.
Sounds simple enough, sure, but the game does ramp up in complexity. The more people you lure out and murder, the more the local town’s suspicion rises. The higher the suspicion, the fewer people that will come as a result of your mailings, plus the higher the odds of inciting an old-fashioned pitchforks and torches mob to come mess your stuff up.
The tone of the game is light and humorous, with such examples as a fake wall that is marked with a sign saying ‘not fake’ that your victims will ignore completely, but your monsters can travel through without issue.
The pathing is a bit frustrating at times. Monsters can’t be trusted to properly chase down or trap a victim, so make sure that they’re boxed in, or that you have all of the doors guarded before you move in to execute your prey. The graphics are flat, looking old-timey but by design, which again lends itself to the classic monster flicks. The music, on the other hand, could use a bit of variety. All these games that really only have the one tune need to take the time to get other songs, or else you will end up turning the bgm off, like I did.
At the end, if you follow the tropes, you will earn yourself upgrades to your crypt, unlocking extra monsters, extra victims, and more. If you don’t, though, you will end up in debt and starving, or possibly even have your villain license revoked!
I wholeheartedly recommend that everyone that enjoyed prison tycoon style games to give this a look-see. It’s worth the price tag, plus it has Twitch integration!