Being an evil overlord has always had it’s charm. I mean, sure, most are crazy sociopathic maniacs with a very devout cult of personality, but it just seems that their side has some of the more interesting strategies. Pity about the horrible architecture, and the roaming bands of adventurers trying to bring you down.
Impire wants to be a game like Dungeon Keeper or Evil Genius, one that allows you to play the evil overlord, or “an” evil overlord to be more precise the evil Baʿal-Abaddon, (Baal for simplicity’s sake). Things are not looking good for the powerful demon from the pit, as a dreadfully incompetent demonologist has managed to summon him… but not without slight inconveniences. Baal is now trapped in the body of a pitiful imp, and must team up with his incompetent “advisor” to take over the surface world and reclaim his power.
The setup is definitely interesting, and sets the stage for an amusing, if someone simple on the humor, campaign of darkness. Starting with the lowest of minions and finishing with the hordes of hell in tandem definitely has appeal. But how does the game behave? Well, here is where the execution fumbles a bit.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with Impire, it is difficult to find a place where it shines. To help Baal in his campaign of evil, you must first build your dungeon and summon your minions. To do this, you can switch between two perspectives, an isometric one in which you can zoom and rotate your camera, and a 2D birds-eye camera that allows for better management of the aforementioned dungeon.
You expand your dungeon by deploying rooms from the birds-eye view, which then one of your minions will build. These rooms are all pre-defined, each kitchen is exactly the same size and services the same amount of minions, the same goes for storage, training rooms, etc. Since most of your main hallways come pre-built in your dungeon, deploying your rooms has little strategy involved, and in a few quick moments you’ll probably have all the rooms you need for your current mission.
While that is disappointing there is still another side to the game. After summoning your minions, you can assign them to squads to move around the underground world and complete objectives. You are oddly limited to four squads, and while you can have way more minions that you can fit in them, you can only teleport around the dungeon with your squads. This may seem like a minor inconvenience, but the interface is ill-prepared to handle individual minions, so moving squads around with your teleport spell is very much the only efficient way of doing so, making you only use individual minions as replacements of those lost in the squads.
Minions need to be fed and trained to make them able to stand against the forces of good (and forces of evil not in your side). To do this, you must ensure they regularly visit the kitchen and training room, as well as other places to develop other important skills. Unfortunately, you must send them manually every time, which feels odd and a bit clunky. Considering the importance of it, you would imagine that you could command your minions to visit the kitchen after some set of conditions are fulfilled and they are idle.
You can also send your squads (and only your squads) on raids to the surface to gather resources and treasure. On paper, these raids sound like fantastic ideas, sprinkling the game with some extra flavor. Unfortunately, you have little to no control over raids. You simply assign a squad to a target and wait for the result. It feels very disinvolved and a bit underused.
Story-wise, the game is amusing, and its sense of humor does make me crack a couple of good laughs here and there (like in the tutorial when they explain to you that apparently demons in the mortal plane see themselves in an odd third person perspective) but it’s a bit uneven. The story itself is nothing to write home about, but to be fair, it should just be there to provide background in a game like this.
Aesthetically the game is quite solid. Its designs for creatures and architecture have charm and personality, even though unfortunately your view is too zoomed out to appreciate it properly. You actually have the opposite problem in cinematics as you’ll be treated to a super-close zoom of the main characters that makes it obvious they were designed to look good on a more zoomed out view.
Sound and music wise, the game is forgettable, but competent. Nothing truly memorable springs to mind, but nothing ear puncturing either, though some of the voice-overs for the characters is less than stellar.
While there is nothing terribly wrong about Impire, I find there is not much to say in favor of it either. While the idea is great, and the technical execution is competent, the game unfortunately feels a bit bland, and does not hold interest for long. If the sense of humor it has connects with you, however, I imagine the ride would be more fun, so do not dismiss it immediately, but be sure to try it first if you can.
The Good: Character and background designs have personality and style, has a sense of humor
The Bad: bland and slow gameplay, humor can be a bit hit and miss.
2.5 out of 5
Disclaimer: We were given a copy of this game for free By Paradox Interactive for reviewing purposes.