The troubled real-time strategy dungeon sim Impire fails to recapture the charms of its inspirations.
- Lots of different, cool units to unlock
- Oddball sense of humor is endearing.
- Interface is a mess
- Juggling the many tasks thrown in your lap grows frustrating
- Dungeon making is bland and unfulfilling
- Stages get repetitive quickly.
Being an evil dungeon lord has its perks. Simpering minions eager to do your bidding are in abundant supply, piles of treasure make great home decor, and you never have to wait too long before a new gaggle of doe-eyed do-gooders come charging into your realm to be gutted and looted. Impire's strategic dungeon-sim revival channels the spirit of the classic Dungeon Keeper series well enough to wrap you into its diabolical fold for a spell. Micromanaging the inner workings of your subterranean lair gets off to a promising start, but the honeymoon phase quickly fades away once you realize just how inflexible and shallow this haphazard homage really is.
Summoned into the service of a wizardly egomaniac bent on wicked world domination, Impire's demonic but diminutive protagonist begrudgingly gets to work at carving out a nefarious niche in the underworld. From the get-go, Impire sets a goofy tone with cheesy tongue-in-cheek humor and campy story encounters. It puts a lighthearted spin on the fact that you're tackling missions that include pillaging villages, poisoning innocents, and brutally punishing anyone who gets in your way. Despite some decent voice acting, story vignettes tend to drag on past their welcome, but you bump into some memorably quirky characters along the way to keep things moving along.
Lording over a sprawling underground domain divides your focus between gathering resources above and below the surface, building out your dungeon with unique rooms and winding corridors, and amassing squads of impish warriors to carry out your will. The early emphasis in most missions is on beefing up your infrastructure to support raising an army powerful enough to survive plowing through the rest of the stage. As you gain resources from your toiling workers, slain heroes, and raided settlements, you can construct additional support dwellings to increase your dungeon's power and functionality.
Each level has a broad range of peripheral achievements to push toward, and spending the skill points earned from meeting these goals lets you cherry-pick which units you can recruit in a given stage. When you're not tending to the evil homestead, you fend off parties of invading heroes, push deeper into the catacombs to explore, and send your own raiding parties to the surface on resource gathering missions, all of which keeps you pretty busy.
Impire sometimes teeters on the brink of being an enjoyable game, but the ham-fisted implementation of some crucial elements keeps it from hitting any kind of comfortable stride. For starters, dungeon building--one of the most important aspects of the game--is limited and feels far less rewarding than it should. While you're given a lot of room to dig about in the beginning of each level, there's not much point to sinking a lot of time into designing anything elaborate. Once you plunk down a new room or corridor, you're stuck with where you placed it, and the general flow of gameplay does little to reward creativity in how you expand your realm. You're frequently pushed toward connecting your hallways to preexisting pocketed rooms filled with foes and treasure. Once you've grabbed all of those goods, it's then onward into your foe's pre-carved domain to explore and battle. The tail end of each stage forces you to inevitably abandon your building efforts and just charge forward to slaughter or be slaughtered. Progressing towards that epic tipping point should be fun, but it's a process that's made largely aggravating by lots of minor issues.
Wrestling with the interface is a big part of the problem. The troublesome camera never lets you find a sweet spot to get a good view of your dungeon. Getting in close for an adjustable isometric look at the action doesn't help when your units always mob together in combat, resulting in a jumbled, chaotic blob that makes targeting enemies and issuing commands a complete mess. The screen feels cramped even when you're looking at your dungeon from afar, and having to zoom all the way out to a top-down view to trigger the building and summoning menu is a real pain. Transitioning between levels of zoom is finicky too.
Dungeon Keeper seemingly can't be matched in its brilliant design. I though a much better version would have come out...but nothing but cheap poor versions its a pity.
@Coolerlew yah a few games tried to "rez" the DK genre but they all miss the mark for some reason !!!
I enjoyed it for a while, but it does get very repetitive and there's not enough focus on your dungeon. The only time you have to recheck your dungeon is when those bloody ladders appear - what a terrible game mechanic!
They even render 2 of the dungeon rooms obsolete too. I got to chapter 4 but don't think I'll be finishing it.
Very dissapointing. I actuallly think the devs had the right idea and the right attitude, they just couldnt pull it off though. Played about 3 hours and yawned.
Better to wait for "War for the Overworld" that's the true dungeon keeper successor. Even Molyneux agrees.
I think people here are looking through their pink glasses again. When was the last time ya'll played DK/2? I go back to DK2 regularly, and while I haven't played Impire, I can tell you that a lot of things he's complaining about here are also present in DK. Oh boo-hoo I have to split up my forces and do more then one battle at once, GTFO! get your a$s back in the kitchen!
Peeps need to go back and take a look at them 'classic' games, and it will quickly become obvious that they're not perfect, by a long shot... but when your expectations are at AAA level obviously a B grade game won't do it for you, but that's YOUR issue, not the games'.
This game had a glowing score on Metacritic, when it first released. I feel like an idiot for falling for that. I don't know how bad it really is, because it's just so dull, I couldn't get very far into it, and consider it $20 down the drain.
If you're going to copy (sorry..find inspiration from) a classic game...Do it right or don't do it at all!
@2bitSmOkEy I know. My 9 year-old daughter plays and loves DK2. I, too, find myself, after all these years, firing it up on occasion and remembering that game in its glory days. A true gem.
Heres for hoping that War for the Overworld will do what all others have failed since DK2
@Dezuria I would accept a DK2 game with updated graphics
@Dezuria should try Evil Genius. Different company, but the same guy.
Unfortunately that company already went out of business as well :(
@Dezuria The original dungeon keeper was pretty good... hence all the wannabes. But like you, I would enjoy seeing one surpass the original and I can't think of anything I liked as much as that one.