Better rule in hell
League of Geeks, the team behind Armello, dives into the vault and brings back a cult classic. The studio’s next title is a reinvention of solium hella game of political strategy that pits would-be rulers against each other for the highest seat in Hell.
Originally released in 2009, solium hell did not receive much mainstream attention. However, Victor Davis’ strategy game, created under the Cryptic Comet studio, latched on to some journalists and blogs in particular. Long series like one on Rock Paper Shotgun dove deep into politics and strategy, finding a lot of things I liked.
League of Geeks is taking the nuts and bolts of solium hell and reimagine it. The main parts remain the same: it’s a turn-based strategy game, where two to four players take on the role of Archfiends, vying for the throne of Pandemonium after the Prince of Darkness has disappeared.
solium hell makes all players take turns simultaneously. So, each person submits their move and then the turn is played. Part of the appeal here is that players will be able to play in asynchronous matches. So in theory you could host a match and log in once a day, see what happened and what move you’d like to record.
a new kind of hell
I had to take a direct look at the game in development, to see what the team was doing with it. The first big difference is the visual review. Everything has received a major graphical overhaul, bringing the characters to 3D and giving them the polish you’d expect from the game. Armello equipment.
Archfiends perk up and give you sideways glances on trading screens. The board is a huge waste of potential and doom. The art that adorns the big moments is absolutely beautiful.
League of Geeks is also expanding on some ideas. Legions, units on the board that can make a big difference, are an aspect of the original game. But some legions have become titans, giving them a massive presence on the board. Compared to the look of the 2009 game, it’s a big difference, though League of Geeks has also tried to retain the feel and ideas behind it. solium hell. In other places, some things have been simplified or merged.
“We really want it to not be a remake or a remaster,” League of Geeks co-founder Trent Kusters told me. “We’re not just revamping the graphics or creating the original game. It’s incredibly faithful to the first one because we love it. We love that game. But it’s our own reboot and our own reinvention.”
From what I saw so far, he was already on board. solium hell captures the spirit of manipulating and tricking friends, saying one thing and doing another, as each seat at the table competes for a prize. Archfiends have this malevolent life to them, and the idea of taking on different Schemes to accomplish certain goals seems like it could make campaigns fun to come back to again and again.
The price of ambition
There is a real passion for what the original solium hell made that League of Geeks is trying to keep, while still putting their own mark on it. Kuster tells me that the original was an inspiration for Armello. Now, after collecting the Davis IP, the idea is to give more players a chance to experience what has captured the hearts of other players.
It’s an exciting meeting point between a cult classic strategy game and a modern strategy game developer. This is one of two projects currently in development at League of Geeks, as the team is also working on another unannounced game. But solium hell is targeting PC by 2023, and it seems to be one to watch. Find it on Steam in the wishlist here.