by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Beating The Heat
It sure feels like the world is on fire these days, especially during the summer heat that slow roasts my skin the second I step outside. In an effort to beat the heat, what better way to do so than playing some games or watching cheesy Sci-Fi films? This summer I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 3 again, and I’ve been watching a lot of Starship Troopers (only the first film, we don’t speak of the others.).
It’s only fitting then that Imperatum would drop into my lap, a game that on the surface essentially looks like Diablo and Starship Troopers had a baby. I was very eager to see if it’s generic clone with a different paintjob or something that really stands out from the pack. So what’s the verdict?
Slogging Through The Hordes
From the start, my hopes for Imperatum began to slowly decline. While mostly functional, by and large it’s a bland experience with some technical woes at best. The problems with Imperatum are worn on its sleeves and it overshadows the good of it.
Environments feel bland and uninspired, often consisting of purely open wastes with perhaps some brush here or a water source there in most cases and while games like this do generally lead you in a certain direction, at times it felt like these outdoor maps were hallways. There’s an illusion you’re in an open space, but when you’re surrounded by impassable terrain on two sides during most of your time playing you really start to feel that hallway blues. Couple that with the fact your character will randomly get hung up on terrain objects barely bigger than a half-step up at the most inopportune times, it gets frustrating quickly.
Combat, the bread and butter of a game like this, also feels incredibly bland. Weapons all feel horribly similar, the only real difference being splash damage between them and of course higher damage on special items, but it never really felt like I was wielding something all that different from each other. Ranged weapons are the way to go as you’ll often be swarmed nearly constantly and as your special abilities cool down, melee weapons just don’t meet the cut in taking enemies down. The enemies in many parts of the game seem to have an unreasonably high aggro range.
While sometimes the enemies collapse like wet paper, other times you’ll die, again and again, as you chisel away at the same horde for several minutes longer than what’s reasonable. While your special abilities to help with this quite a bit, once you’re in a cooldown you’re at the mercy of the horde and if they’ve enclosed around you you’re better off just accepting you’re about to die, and just pick off as many of them with you as you can. On lower difficulties this is not as much of an issue, but when you’re playing on a harder difficulty it quickly gets in your face.
I wish I could say there’s at least an interesting story to keep me pushing forward, but from the start it just felt like a copy of several recent Sci-Fi series that was used more as a kickstart to get the game rolling. It’s not necessarily a bad story, but being that it feels like bits and pieces of things we’ve already experienced before it just feels bland. That’s the running theme of Imperatum, it’s not good or bad. It’s just bland, and as such immemorable.
Lost In Space
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Often times, being bland is more dangerous for a game than being bad. With an abysmal experience, such as the ill-fated Raven’s Cry or Ride To Hell: Retribution, they are games that people are likely to recognize by name. That were so truly awful, people wanted to experience it themselves to see if the criticism was warranted or not. But games like Imperatum, that are not necessarily horrible but are far from good will disappear beneath the fame and infamy other games bring about. Unless it has one little niche than can catch even a small following, the name Imperatum will not ring any bells even a few months from now.
A few technical hiccups and odd design choices, weapons feel too similar, melee weapons feel useless, enemy aggro range is a bit absurd, illusions of open areas are marred by tight quarters constantly.