Thank you GamersGate for sending us this game to review!
Baal-Abaddon is minding his own business in the depths of Hell when he is summoned into Ardania by an evil ambitious halfwit named Oscar. As if serving Oscar is not demeaning enough, his earthly form is that of an imp. This vessel is only temporary as Baal gains experience; he can evolve closer to his true form.
Until then, he must build up dungeons and train minions to do Oscar’s bidding. Like many strategy games, you have to gather resources like mushrooms (food), materials and treasure. As soon as you have treasure in your dungeon, heroes will randomly appear and try to steal it. To prevent that from happening you’ll have to train fighting units and build wall/floor traps.
By default defeated heroes drop materials. If you have a prison, they can be captured and ransomed for treasure or sent to the extraction (torture) room to get Deed of Evil Conquest (DEC) points from them. Alternatively, you can send them to the training room to be replacement punching bags.
In case you haven't noticed, this game is grisly and prides itself on being evil. You cannot complete this game without committing various acts of murder and revenge. Many of the quests are vengeful and involve killing innocents for fun. For example, you have the option of raiding a shipment of medicine for orphans or if you're really evil, the medicine can be replaced with poison.
While that quest is optional, as long as the main objectives are complete you can progress the single player campaign. The main story has four chapters with several acts. Each act requires you to start from scratch in building your dungeon and earning the DEC points.
Multiplayer is available but is considered to be in a beta state. Impire offers two game modes, King of the Hill where you have to control a majority of the dungeon, or lure more dragons in Capture the Dragon mode. Sadly, there are no public games or lobbies; you have to invite friends to play via Steam. As with many Steam games there are achievements to unlock. This game has forty-eight and some are easy to earn while others take some effort to unlock. The Steam cloud save feature is a nice touch.
Like many Paradox games, the humor is witty but inappropriate at times. I appreciated the nod to Majesty since this takes place in the land of Ardania and the homage to Magicka with the mage robes in the background. Unfortunately, just like Magicka at launch, Impire is riddled with stability issues and I have experienced many crashes to the desktop. Patches are being released, but they do break your game saves. It’s not the end of the world since your campaign progress is saved; you just have to restart from the beginning of the act.
Graphically speaking this game is decent. The dungeons are gloomy and the outside areas are colorful and nicely detailed. As with many games out there these days, the female units are well endowed and can use more clothing. The monster units have their own personalities and fluid movement. Each unit type looks the same. It would have been nice to have their character model change with better armor equipped. Baal has the most detail and personality by far. What bothered me the most was that Oscar and other characters were nicely animated but their mouths did not move when they talked.
The voice acting was nicely done; I liked the narrator and Baal’s quips at Oscar the most. The sound effects and battle sounds are fitting. While the ambient music sets the mood, it is rather forgettable.
Is the whole game worth forgetting though? That’s the question. There seems to be many strikes against it. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to Christians. With the stability problems and lackluster multiplayer, I wouldn’t pay twenty dollars for it either. Fortunately there’s a demo available so I’d recommend trying that before parting with your hard earned cash. Some say it’s very similar to Dungeon Keeper which I have not played. There is a lot of micromanagement and there’s still some balancing issues that need to be addressed. I’m glad to see that the developers are listening to their audience and are working on making it better. Overall I think Impire is fun, but I’m not comfortable playing with a game that promotes doing evil deeds.