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Impire Review

To say Impire is a highly anticipated game is a huge understatement. Fans of Bullfrog’s cult game Dungeon Keeper will know that some similarities have been drawn between the two games and will be beyond eager to see whether Impire can hold a flame to DK.Well, we won’t keep you waiting in suspense any longer, here’s what we thought of the game.

You start off in Impire as Báal-Abaddon, a jaded, once-mighty evil being trapped in the form of an imp, and about as intimidating as a fluffy, pink bunny (the word cute comes to mind). Báal has been summoned from the Bottomless Pit in which he resides by a markedly irritating sorcerer who goes by the name of Oscar van Fairweather. Fairweather’s intention is to use Báal’s evil prowess to serve his own personal purposes, which as you can imagine doesn’t really work out the way he plans. Báal gets a reminding taste of his prior dark authority, and soon takes over, doing things his own way and as you progress so does his impish body.

Unfortunately, there were some hiccups to overcome before we were able to launch ourselves into our subterranean experience. The first machine we tried installing it on, a gaming laptop, ran the game at such a snail-like speed that it was practically impossible to play. We broke the fully-fledged gaming rig out and installed it on there instead, and it ran much better, although it took a good while to work out how to actually launch a game as the organisation and presentation of the user interface is very cluttered and uncomfortable to navigate.

Interestingly enough, despite the aforementioned problems getting the graphically hungry game to run, the opening scene doesn’t really show what makes this the case, as the graphics are actually not great. Not to say they are in atrocious, but the mouth movement when the characters are speaking is non-existent, and this is so for all following cutscenes, which is rather disappointing because the actual voice acting is brilliant. The 3D map itself is fully rotatable, zoomable, and for such a customisable, detailed space, there are no problems here, but it is still hard to get past cutscenes with such graphical shortcomings.


Despite our initial bellyache with the game we press on and focus on the first act/level/tutorial. Fairweather bosses you around, educating you in the basics of dungeon maintenance, showing you how to summon workers to repair out-of-use rooms, or build new ones and then how to assign them to the rooms to keep them running. We are made aware of the ‘management mode’ which enables us to decide what to build, a kitchen here to keep the troops happy, a treasure room there to store all the gold you’ll be collecting. It was all a bit Theme Hospitalesque. This part was fairly painless, although there were more occasions than we’d like when a section we were told would be highlighted for our benefit, was in fact not. When this happened, there was a few panicked moments of trying to work out what to do because the user interface in game was just as arduous to work out as the main menu.

The way of unlocking new troops at the beginning is quite novel, when you discover an enemy unit and destroy it, Fairweather investigates the corpse and voila, our nursery (which produces the troops) can create it. After the tutorial you collect points during the levels for achieving certain milestones, like digging five squares (yes really), and these ‘DEC’ points can be used to re-unlock the troops, as apparently you forgot how to make them. The points can also be spent on things like armour improvements and runes, basically stuff to make life easier.

A nice game mechanic is the ‘squad’ feature. Once you have created enough fighter minions you can place them in squads, four in each, of which you can unlock additional ones by spending treasure that you find whilst exploring the dungeon. Of course Báal is the only person that can actually interact with any inanimate objects, so you have to keep remembering to bring him along with you. At least the handy teleport option means that you can get him there pronto, once pre-discovered by your squad, rather than having to wait for him to make his way round the seemingly endless maze of corridors to wherever the treasure box is located.

Combat is very basic, right-click on whatever you want to attack, with a couple of added ‘God mode’ style attacks, like lightning strikes, to help to get the job done. The only problem is that once you have a few squads, and a number of enemies to fight, trying to order your troops to attack a different target, or to mark an enemy for capture (for training or ransom purposes) is an absolute nightmare. This would be bearable if the troops just got on with fighting, but sometimes they don’t, because either they’re bugging out and just doing nothing, or you forgot to feed them in the kitchen and their aggression bar has depleted, so they won’t attack.

Trying to keep on top of everything is rather difficult, as nothing that you control has any kind of autonomy, or intelligence for that matter. Your troops never go to the kitchen of their own accord, or to the training room to level up, and all of these things mandatory if you want to survive. It seems like so much of your time is spent organising and sorting out, rather than exploring, advancing, or fighting. In all honesty it makes the experience quite burdensome, not fun, and several times we got so frustrated with not being able to progress, that we gave up altogether.

There is a multiplayer option, which I would imagine was perhaps more enjoyable and more Age of Empires style, but we weren’t able to test it out due to there never being any games to jump in to, and no one wanting to join ours despite waiting patiently. Whether this is due to it being a fairly new release, only time will tell, but for now it’s not something we can really comment on.

It is such a shame because Impire has so much potential, it could have been a great game, but there are just too many glaring obvious flaws for it to be enjoyable. The whole experience felt like an uphill struggle; there were no interesting decisions to make to effect the game outcome, and no reward for battling through a level, except another level. It felt as though all the parts of the game had been thrown together in a haphazard manner, with no coherent, streamlined end product; like a puzzle with the pieces just piled in the middle, and not put together.

If you’re a fan of Dungeon Keeper and you’re hoping this is a rehash of its awesomeness then I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed. You might enjoy this if you have a lot of free time, patience, and plenty of experience with previous RTS games, but for newcomers to the genre, this one will be biting off more than you can chew. For us, it was a bit of a let-down.

5.00/10 5

Impire (Reviewed on Windows)

The game is average, with an even mix of positives and negatives.

If you’re a fan of Dungeon Keeper and you’re hoping this is a rehash of its awesomeness then I’m afraid you will be sorely disappointed. You might enjoy this if you have a lot of free time, patience, and plenty of experience with previous RTS games, but for newcomers to the genre, this one will be biting off more than you can chew. For us, it was a bit of a let-down.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Emsey P. Walker

Emsey P. Walker

Junior Editor

Emsey is a lover of games and penguins. Apparently she does some writing too...somewhere...

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Kaostic - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015

Bit disappointed, really liked the look of this.

Ewok - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015

The same, but the idea that you minions have no free will and won't even [I]feed[/I] themselves sounds like an awful idea to me. I might still try this, but it's dropped down a fair few places from the top of my most wanted list.

Emseypenguin - 11:41pm, 3rd April 2015 Author

Honestly, I was really disappointed, I really wanted to enjoy it but just couldn't. At one point I was playing and then I hear this voice say "new ladders have appeared" no explanations...so I just carry on like...er okay. Next thing I know my dungeon is swarming with enemies...Oh...thanks for the warning...now all my workers are dead.