by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Who doesn’t love Imps? OK, so they can be mischievous and have often less than stellar looks, but you have got to admit that they’re a heap of fun. Take the more famous ‘Imp’ of the present time, Tyrion Lannister from the Game of Thrones TV series / A Song of Ice and Fire novels. He gets to have all the fun, in his own often-inappropriate way. And so, with Impire, you too can get to fill the no-so-large shoes of the Imp Baal-Abaddon as he attempts to rebuild his dungeon underworld and return to his former much more imposing stature.
The game takes place in Ardania (well, under it for the most part), a place that some may have visited before in Defenders of Ardania or in the Majesty series. Impire has you in charge of Baal, recruiting various Imp characters and creatures to do your bidding, aiding you in your attempt to thwart enemies from gaining passage through your dungeons in homage to Dungeon Keeper. The game plays out as part real-time strategy, part RPG with a touch of management thrown into the mix. It can often be difficult to find the right mix of genres in these mixed-genre games, but Cyanide may have the mix just about right.
A touch of humour
It certainly helps to make a game fun to play when the developers have thrown in a dash of humour. Impire is one such game. It starts with the story of the sorcerer Oscar Van Fairweather, conjuring up what he expects to be the imposing demon Baal-Abaddon. Unfortunately something goes awry, and it is the impish version of Baal that appears. As the game progresses, you will luckily be able to regain Baal’s once-powerful stature again.
As well as the main task of defending your dungeons against the would-be heroes, Baal can also terrorize the citizens or Ardania. In doing so, Baal can gain gold and other treasure, as well as other resources with which he can use to upgrade and improve his dungeons. Of course, much of the action takes place inside the dungeons, and it is the dungeons that form you base of operations.
And building your base will be rather important. A kitchen must be built so that your minions can be fed, a barracks is needed to train your little henchmen and a torture chamber can even be built to have some fun with those unlucky heroes that have bitten off more than they can chew. It may be that parts of them will indeed be bitten off. Speaking of chewing, minions won’t be happy without food. It is all well and good to have built a kitchen, but unless it is well stocked, you won’t have an army. The basic food source in Impire is Mushrooms, whilst materials will also need to be collected in order to build expansions to your dungeons or other amusing tools to play around with.
Combat is squad-based with up to four units per squad with the mechanics that are said to work in a similar way to Dawn of War II. After building the squad, you can then send them off on various quests, entering other dungeons or causing mayhem in Ardania. Of course, with the wandering would-be-heroes entering your dungeons, it would be wise not to send all your minions out on quests, but keep some them for the defence of your dungeons. As your squads gain experience, they will eventually level up giving the gamer a stronger, more powerful squad to work with. Abilities such as group buffs and even de-buffs can often sway the battle.
But it’s not just your squad that can be improved. As briefly mentioned earlier, your main avatar, Baal, can also be customised and improved as the game progresses. The three upgrade paths can increase Baal’s prowess in magic, melee combat or commanding of units. Each will have its own uses and will enable gamers to choose a play style that suits them.
Co-op and Multiplayer
As with most games that are released nowadays, the game will come complete with a couple of multiplayer modes. A co-op mode will enable you to play along with another would be dungeon master. But there will also be a number of multiplayer modes in which you play against other gamers. A King-of-the-Hill mode and a Capture the Flag modes have been confirmed.
The game has a bright, fun look which enhances the playful nature of the Imp. The cartoonish characters, along the lines of the Minions from Overlord look cute, but can cause some mayhem. From what we’ve seen of the game so far, the aboveground landscapes and dungeon areas are vibrant and fit the feel of the same well, not as dark and brooding as the sombre titles such as Oblivion.
With the Dungeon Keeper stylings, the touch of humour and the blending of genres, Impire is looking rather promising. Added to that, the co-op and multiplayer functions and we have a game that has us waiting for its release next week.