Impire is a dungeon master strategy game for PC, only playable on steam from Paradox Interactive and developed by Cyanide Montreal. On first appearances Impire looks like your standard dungeon master game with slightly prettier artwork and design. However, having played the game for a while it actually pleasantly surprises you.
The game set-up screen is small and simple with the only real character customisation being changing the colour of your clothes, but in a game like this you don’t really need much more. From the first cut-scene it becomes obvious that this game is incredibly humorous, the scenario that shows the player why they are dungeon keeping at all is very entertaining and can genuinely give some good laughs, which is becoming rare in modern day games. Without giving anything away, you are a demon summoned by a summoner, who gives you a very bumbling and flabbergasted greeting before informing you that he wants you to run his dungeon.
The way the controls are explained through the summoner is an absolute treat, the humorous ways the voice actor explains how to keep your dungeon is informative and very funny. Where most games will either just give a text pop-up or have a character say “Press the space bar to…” which can be very jarring, this game puts a little twist on it almost making the tutorial feel satirical to other game’s ways of explaining gameplay.
The gameplay is very simplistic but at the same time very satisfying. The controls make for easy gameplay which most gamers from casual to hardcore will be able to pick up very quickly and as said before, learning the game is enjoyable purely thanks to the character’s explanations. Most of the actions are executable through holding right-click and selecting the action from a circular menu, this includes attacking, spawning minions and building sections of your dungeon. The game also does a great job of telling you the different methods of utilizing controls, some times it will spell it out for you but sometimes it just mentions it and then lets the player actually go and find out for themselves how to do it.
The looting system is fantastic. Obviously with a dungeon crawler game you have your minions working, gathering, harvesting or doing minion things, and the minions who are harvesting resources will drop loot bags every so often. The great thing that Impire does is automatically send any worker that has nothing better to do to collect your loot and take it to your store room. This makes the gameplay feel less clunky as you don’t have to be inspecting every inch of the map for loot because the workers will be collecting it for you.
The unit management is fine, but could be improved. You spawn minions which cost resources, basic dungeon keeper stuff, then you can assign these minions to squads by opening a window and dragging them in. Dragging the icons is the only way to assign minions to a squad, where a simple plus button to quickly add a minion or even a number box to insert more minions into a squad at once would make the interface a lot more user friendly.
The user interface when controlling yourself as it were is very nice. Other units and squads appear on the bottom of the screen in small circles which move around depending on the unit’s location, and you can click on them to quickly access that unit and move it to the section of the dungeon you’re currently up-close on.
The thing that really sells this game is the voice actor who you work for. His genuine gusto for inspecting corpses to create new minions or describing what units can do is both enjoyable and enthralling. He makes the gameplay more satisfying with his enthusiasm even when you accomplish simple tasks such as spawning a minion, the genuine excitement he portrays urges you to play on.
As the story of the game progresses you’ll be able to send multiple squads to raid other dungeons or settlements over a world map, this is something that really expands the game and makes it feel a lot bigger than just you inside your own little dungeon spawning minions and finding loot. When you send a squad to perform a raid you can watch them do the dirty work of killing and pillaging, but you don’t have to watch them trek across the world map, which is a great decision by the developers. The squads also move at a good speed across the world map, points of interest are usually a reasonable distance away and your raid force doesn’t get there really fast, but also doesn’t keep you waiting for a ridiculous amount of time.
Another dynamic the game throws at you while you’re raiding is the chance of being raided yourself. Enemies may choose to attack your dungeon at any time, and if you’ve sent out all your fighting minions to pillage and plunder, then guess what? You’re out of luck. This gameplay element brings a huge need for strategical thinking as well as micro management of your workers, fighters and looters.
Another raid-like feature that can threaten your pit of evilness are heroes. Heroes will find out that you’re up to no good and attempt to come in and stop you in true heroic fashion, the only trouble they have is that this time, the bad guy is the main character, meaning they won’t return home the victorious heroic conquerors. This is a good feature to have in a dungeon keeper styled game, it’s often easy for a gamer to always see themselves as the good guys, even in games like Grand Theft Auto, where the police are portrayed more as the villains than the main character, who is usually a crime lord or gangster. The same can be said for dungeon keepers, you are a bad guy, you spawn hellish demons and raid innocent homesteads, you are a bad guy, and heroes will try and stop you being bad, and that’s good.
The mechanic of keeping minions happy is simple, as all you really need to do is feed them and they’ll be full of aggressiveness (which is a great twist on morale). As per usual with this game, it explains the mechanic in a funny way with the voice actors again selling you the situation in a great way where it doesn’t seem like a computer is telling you what to do, but a human is advising you on how to proceed for maximum carnage.
Impire is a fun little game with huge entertainment value. As stated a few times already, the game’s humour is right on point and the voice actor sells the situation and emotion of what a villain would be feeling in the situations he finds himself in. The game may suffer from a little repetitiveness as with my strategy games can become a series of build, feed, fight, loot on repeat. But there is certainly enough gameplay elements, humorous dialogue and satisfying goals for this game to give you a good few hours before you get too bored with it.