I’ve had the pleasure of playing games that resemble the old fan favorite, “Dungeon Keeper” as of late…some being better than others. “Dungeons” kept me busy for a little while and “A Game of Dwarves” quote unquote ruined my personal life for a month or two with its addicting gameplay. This time around, I’ll be taking a look at the game “Impire” and while it does keep with the general “Dungeon Keeper” theme, it does some pretty unique things that warrants special attention. Like “Dungeons”, you’ll be assuming the role of a once powerful figure that has been kicked out of power. In this case, you are Báal-Abaddon, a great leader who has been reduced in size to the body of an imp after being summoned by a man named Oscar van Fairweather. Needless to say, you’ll be doing your darndest to see that Báal-Abaddon rises from his slump and regains power (and hopefully his prior form) once again. Before we get started with this particular dungeon-esque strategy game, I’d like to thank Veronica Gunlycke from Paradox Interactive for providing me with a free review copy.
The main menu allows you to play the game and adjust game options. The options menu allows you to adjust screen resolution, full screen/windowed mode, vsync, texture quality, various graphic effects, sound levels, and keybinds. It was nice to see that the keys were rebindable, even though there wasn’t a lot going on in terms of control scheme. Clicking the “Start” option from the main menu allows you to play the campaign, participate in skirmish, and set your individual profile. Multiplayer is available in both the campaign and skirmish modes, though there’s a note mentioning that it’s still in the Beta. You’ll be able to see the available games from the play menu and even customize your lobby settings before starting so that you can encourage or discourage people from dropping in on you. Campaign difficulties can be set at very easy, easy, normal, hard, and very hard, though in some cases not all of the difficulties are available. It appeared that the availability of some of the lobby settings were level dependent.
Building rooms in your dungeon is incredibly easy. The rooms come pre-sized with a couple of entrances thrown in for good measure. Further, you’ll be able to rotate the blueprint / outline of the room before plopping it down so that it can better fit your layout. One important thing to note is that room placement is permanent, meaning that planning ahead of time is essential. You’ll be able to save your game as you go, so I recommend saving often while you’re just learning the ropes. Autosaving is an available feature, but only occurs when you finish a level. There’s a variety of different rooms and it would take too long to go into each one, but suffice it to say that they each have their own unique function and look. As you may have guessed, rooms have a resource cost that must be satisfied before construction can begin.
You’ll have access to various creatures / minions that will serve to do your bidding. You can assign workers to rooms so that they can produce goods (or whatever the room calls for) or you can assign military units to raid groups and send them off together to wreak havoc with who knows what. Leveling them up and improving upon their equipment is a welcome feature as I really enjoy games that give me the feeling that I’m creating a vastly powerful empire. As you unlock new minions and put them to use, you’ll soon feel like a tyrant with the power of all at his or her fingertips. Keeping a meaty supply of workers on hand is generally recommended, as you don’t want to be without one when you really need them.
One of my favorite features that I find very unique is that you’ll be able to visit the surface and actually send your minions on raids to key points of interest on the surface map. “A Game of Dwarves” allowed some limited surface action, but “Impire” takes it a step further and incorporates them into various mission objectives. While building a successful lair is all well and good, it acts more as a central base where you’ll be preparing your forces to complete various mission objectives. More often than not, these objectives take place outside of your lair. Raiding also allows you to gain mushrooms, treasure, and materials, should your resource supplies get too low.
It wouldn’t be an evil dungeon if you didn’t have heroes invading your territory in an attempt to wipe you out. In addition to using your minions to fight them off, you’ll be able to set traps for them. You can use their life force as a resource to improve upon various section of your empire or salvage gear from their dead corpses for raw materials. They’ll often come through the front door at first, but will eventually wise up and tunnel into different parts of your lair via a ladder. This defense mechanic, coupled with the above mentioned raiding system, is incorporated fairly well. I never felt overwhelmed, but I was never bored either. Ladders can be destroyed if you’re quick enough to get to them before the heroes spawn.
On the brainer side of things, you’ll have access to a tech tree that allows you to unlock new minions for your use, among other things. At the beginning of every mission, you’ll have to go about unlocking everything again by way of earning DEC points. You earn DEC points simply by going about your business and performing various tasks. While this might be a pain to do every mission, it actually allows you to customize your loadout based on the mission objectives at hand. Players will be forced to think about what it is they want to unlock every level, especially during the later ones. On a separate note, your avatar will gain experience points as you play the game and you’ll be able to improve upon him accordingly. You can add visible improvements that add buffs to your avatar or unlock spells that you can cast.
Overall, “Impire” is a fantastic strategy game that is a welcome addition to the “Dungeon Keeper” genre. While similar to “Dungeons”, it has some unique features and gameplay mechanics that give it an edge. The freedom to move units around, assign them into squads, and send them on raids is preferable from being limited to summoning circles, for example. During my play session, I found that I had a difficult time putting it down to actually write the review. It’s addicting, it will keep you engaged, and is a lot of fun. The voice acting is superb and I found the dialogue quite humorous. I highly recommend this game to those who enjoyed playing “Dungeon Keeper”, “A Game of Dwarves”, and “Dungeons.” You’ll find it on Steam for about $19.99 (as of 2/15/13)…the content that you’re getting for the price is more than fair, in my opinion. To sum it all up, this game will be on my play list for a good, long while.
Final Verdict: 7/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Impire” by visiting the following websites:
You can view video play sessions here: