What do you get when you take demons, heavy metal, Real Time Strategy (RTS) and lots of puns and put them into a meat grinder? Probably a very odd-tasting sausage. But more importantly, you get Impire, Paradox Interactive’s new strategy game developed by Cyanide Studios. Does this mix create an Impowering feeling in the player or does it leave them feeling Impty?
30 Second Review
(+) Colorful and Eccentric Characters
(+) Gameplay is Easy to Pick Up and Play
(-) Pacing is a Little Slow
(-) Some Crash/Bug Issues
(+) Fun to be Evil
ContImplation of World Domination
In Impire, you take control of Báal-Abaddon, an evil and smarmy demon of the Bottomless Pit who is summoned into the world of Ardania by a dark (and quite incompetent) sorcerer Oscar van Fairweather. Instead of being the giant mighty behemoth of death Báal is used to being, he’s summoned as a lowly imp. Still, Oscar’s vile intentions to rid the world of all goody two-shoes and begin a reign of terror and tyranny intrigue Báal enough to stick around and lend a hand…or well, claw. As the story progresses, you tackle jobs assigned by your sorcerer, ally yourself with other malcontent villains wishing for a piece of world domination and slay heroes seeking fame and glory who enter your lair. More importantly, Báal slowly gains back his power and levels up to be the bringer of destruction.
At the beginning you have several cut scenes of dialogue between Báal and Oscar that pretty much set the tone for the game. Dialogue is humorous and lighthearted if not a little dark. The rest of the jokes are very heavy-handed with puns, tongue-in-cheek jokes and movie/media references. During your conquest, you’ll encounter more characters and minions to add to the army. While there is a story to Impire, it doesn’t do anything too unpredictable. The jokes become a bit repetitive at times and in-game dialogue is very lacking. Even so, the overall presentation is comical, colorful and a bit eccentric. Impire is enjoyable if you don’t take either the characters or story too seriously.
Imploying Your Army
The game plays as an RTS with a bit of base construction/management. As Báal, you are able to summon minion workers to dig out tunnels, build rooms and collect resources to create bigger and stronger units. Each room provides different abilities and perks that allow you to summon new units, train them, create traps for your dungeon, lock up heroes for ransom and more. There is a healthy dose of playing both offensive and defensive strategies. As you grow, your dungeon will level up. The higher the level your dark, dank dungeon becomes, the more likely heroes will want to invade your cavernous home. As they do, you’ll need to build up troops to defend your base. Once you’re well-defended, you can go on the offensive by clearing out rooms of enemies or explore new areas for bonus missions, or you can send your troops to venture out to perform raids on unsuspecting peasants and gather resources and gold to build up your fortress.
Most of your time will be spent grouping and managing units. Each unit has its own unique ability, such as being able to fight from a distance, healing or stunning enemies for a short time. This diversity is where a bit of strategy comes in. You’re able to organize 4 units into a single squad. Once in a squad, the units will behave differently, working together and lending their abilities in different ways than if they were going solo. Being able to lump only 4 units into a squad feels a bit limiting, but as you unlock the ability to create more squads, you can change your strategy and try different combinations. Both squads and units will gain experience and level up the more you play them, becoming stronger and more capable tools for destruction.
Much of the gameplay is relatively easy to pick up. As you progress, more rooms, units and options open up, giving you new ways to manage your base with every level. Although the gameplay is easy enough to understand, the game’s pacing is a bit on the slow side. What could easily be grasped in a single level or two is drawn out over several long missions and seems to carry through much of the game. In addition, while the game presents new enemies and challenges each round, the game seems to fall into the same pattern almost every time. This feeling of repetitiveness wasn’t a big determent for me, since I enjoyed managing the base and troops while playing.
The levels do vary in location but mainly serve as a backdrop to the action. Most of your time will be spent in the dark recesses of your cavern. Surprisingly, the game does a great job with lighting. The neon green coming from your nursery pulses while the lights from your magic room crackle like lightning. Although the maps can be big, navigating them was rather simple and easy. You are able to zoom in close to the action or zoom far out and see a bird’s eye view of your lair. Beacon icons also hover above all rooms and units allowing quick assessments and updates. One downside is you can’t hide these beacons, which makes it hard to decipher what is immediately going on in a spot with lots of troops.
Additionally, there is a multiplayer option where you can play coop with a friend or play a few versus games with different selections. Unfortunately, there did not seem to be much of a multiplayer community, and I was unable to try out these features.
Imphasizing the Final Points
There are a few miscellaneous items that should be mentioned. I experienced some bugs and crashes and had to play through entire levels again. After checking the forums, I found this has happened to quite a few other players. In addition, the single player campaign requires an always-online connection. You can play the game offline but are limited to skirmish matches between you and the AI. Despite these issues, I still had a lot fun with the game and hope to try out the multiplayer as the community grows.
The game has a bit of dark charm to it, and I found it to be lighthearted, comical and very enjoyable overall. You could say it is even impressive. Impire gets a 7 out of 10.
Impire is currently available for Windows PC for $20 (US).