If you were ever curious what would happen if you mixed Dungeon Keeper with Overlord then consider that feline deceased and rezz'd. At first play through Impire seems like just another “borrowed” game by design. Simple cut scenes with repetitive character animations (like the Austin Powers evil pinky move) can be a bit distracting if you were expecting something akin to Final Fantasy or Diablo 3. The language is not what I taught my children as “Daddy words” but definitely a few non-polite usage of body parts and sexual preferences. Not enough to make it mature but definitely not for the young gamer if they are not mature enough to know to NOT repeat everything they hear/read. But as negative as that sounds the game grows on you like the mushrooms your imps have to farm.
If you have played Overlord and/or Dungeon Keeper then you will feel a bit at home. Controls may not seem intuitive to those who are not versed in those games. The tutorial might seem long and time consuming but it is well worth it to run it once and do what the narrator says when he says. Then load it up again and run it while skipping as much of the text as possible. What you will discover is that even though it may seem an over simplification of the previously mention games, the game does allow you to play a little more your way than be forced to do what the programmers want you to do. In the demo you only get two missions but by the end of the second one you fully get the gist of what the game has to offer.
Basically you are an evil demon lord that has been summoned by a rather bumbling wizard. Instead of the 15 foot tall burning monstrosity, you are a two foot tall speck of nothing. So your ultimate mission is to return to your previous stature of glory and power. Like Dungeon Keeper, you need to build rooms to improve your army/skills/spells/traps/resources/etc. Unlike DK the rooms appear to be pre-set so the most work you have to do is rotate the blue print to fit the doors onto a hallway. Also like DK you have invading heroes but unlike DK you have ladders that spawn before a hero invasion. Destroy the ladders and you know where the heroes will enter. Leave the ladders and you might lose a room not to mention several workers.
Combat/menu options are similar to Overlord on the console. Bring up a sub menu to select an option that opens up something else. Confusing if you are unfamiliar with that sort of control system. But again, play the demo/tutorial twice and you will be a right-click/drag/release pro. Also like Overlord (and unlike DK) your forces are easier to control in a squad. But in Impire you have smaller squads but can swap/change who is in them quickly and with extreme ease. Again it took me twice through the demo to learn what windows/menus were more important so I could just use three of them mainly and speed my game up. In a similar fashion to DK you can teleport squads anywhere you have discovered instead of dropping your creatures into a fight.
Resource awareness is critical so feel free to NOT finish the tutorial or demo because you are taking advantage of one of the fun features available in Impire: Raiding. Need more mushrooms? Go raid them. Need treasure? Send out a squad. Need materials? You know what to do. Many missions and side missions require you to raid so it is not like you won’t discover what it can do for your dungeon.
All in all a fun game that has great re-playability. You can go player vs. player (or so it says at end of demo) or even co-op a game. Do not let the cartoonish graphics persuade your judgment that this is a little kids game. The language is more to the mature side but so infrequent that you are not really aware of it until they say another colorful metaphor (which is in text and audio so be careful what young eyes/ears are hovering over your shoulder). Once you get dialed in to fitting the game to your play style it is easy to see how the game (a.k.a. heroes) can overwhelm you if you are not careful. Or if you do not keep up with rooms you will be gathering materials that you are unable to store. Or be distracted by a timed mission that requires raiding while you get a ladder spawn. You get the picture don't you? Simplicity that allows complexity, just the sort of game a geek would like.
So if you can get past the simple animation sequences and allow one play through to just learn the controls then you might be surprised by what the game has the potential to offer your gamer geek needs. If you are a fan of Dungeon keeper or Overlord then you definitely need to at least give the demo a try. You will feel right at home quicker than most players.
Style: Strategy (single, pvp a.k.a. “multiplayer” and co-op options)
Developer: Cyanide Montreal
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Demo easily available through Steam
Until next time. Game on!