by Preston Dozsa
reviewed on PC
Watching Paint Dry
I wonder if being the big bad dungeon boss is as boring as it is playing one in Impire. Ordering all of your minions to go to the kitchen when they’re hungry, sighing each time a new batch of heroes enters your living spaces, and building identically shaped rooms time after time must get really loathsome after a while. There is no joy to be found in watching the same faceless minions slowly shuffle to their objective, no life in raiding the same identical faceless villages for treasure, and there is certainly no fun in following the thin strand that one might call a plot from beginning to end. Watching paint dry is more compelling than playing Impire, because at the very least the paint does not restart the drying process every forty-five minutes.
Impire is a game about being the big bad boss in charge of the dungeon that you have entered in countless other fantasy games. It’s a bit of a dungeon game, in that you build a dungeon and flesh out its corridors and rooms. It also contains elements of real time strategy games, where you control many minions, big and small, in order to seek out and complete objectives. But it also has a slight touch of RPG where you undergo quests and level up periodically for good measure. Impire mixes and matches genres, which results in a game that can politely be called a mess. None of the genres blend well together, and each seems to be competing with the other for control of the game. It would have helped if more time had been spent on polishing the game as a whole, rather than throwing in ideas that clearly don’t match.
Fire and Forget
A normal mission in Impire revolves around building, maintaining and upgrading your lair and units in order to solve an objective such as “Go here and kill these guys” or “Wait here and kill the guys that come”. Upon completion of that objective, it is normal for you to repeat the same process several times over until a mission is complete. And it doesn’t get more interesting than that. Which is a shame really, as the core mission structure could work if the other parts clicked together. Which they don’t.
Building your lair is easy, because it is not complex in the slightest. You either build a tunnel or room, move and rotate it to your desired location and then click one last time to confirm. So simple, a child could do it easily. But it also results in myself not caring over what my lair looks like, or where my rooms are located. I don’t feel a connection to my lair because it’s a simple fire and forget system that you don’t even have to watch, and it can be repeated ad infinitum time and time again.
The combat has the same repetitive structure. Click on your units, teleport them to a location and watch them fight the enemy. If they die, send more units. If they don’t, send them back to the kitchen to regain stamina before repeating. It’s a vicious cycle of never ending pointlessness, as the units are so generic that you don’t care what happens to them. A minotaur died? Better build another one to replace him. Squad wiped out? Better assign four new units to take their old positions. Another group of heroes outside the entry hall? Teleport the minions to the hallway nearby. And it goes on.
All this made worse still by the 2D overhead view from which you can see all of your rooms and units at once. So not only am I not caring about where I put a certain room, or which squad should attack which enemy, but the ability to go into overhead mode means I’m not paying attention to the small scale at all. Who needs to see a new laboratory being built when you can just watch it appear on the overhead? Who needs to watch the character models fight when you can look at their icons on the overhead screen? I care nothing about them already, so I have to thank the developers for giving me the ability to not care about them even more.
But what about the story? Doesn’t it possibly have redeeming qualities? Unfortunately, Impire continues the trend of making me not care about anything by creating a story so wrapped in cliché and banality that I simply was unable force myself to feel anything for it or its characters. The story is about a great powerful demon named Baal who is summoned onto the mortal plane in the body of a small imp and then forced to create an evil empire from scratch. And that’s all I could remember, because I turned off the volume at some point and was no longer reading the dialogue on the bottom of the screen. Let’s just say that the constant attempts at humour within the storyline made me want to quit playing the game. Hint: There’s a lot of jokes made about Baal’s size. Hilarious, I know.
At the very least, Impire works. It functions as it is meant to, and I can honestly say that I encountered few bugs during my time with the game. This is also its downside, because even though it functions properly, I did not enjoy the time I spent playing this game. The mission structure is repetitive, the basic gameplay is far from engaging, and I might even have fallen asleep at some point while playing. Impire is monotonous, banal and boring, and I can’t wait to forget about it in the coming weeks.
It functions properly
Extremely bland gameplay, repetitive mission structure, and a complete lack of player engagement.