Review: Impire Single Player

Declan Skews takes Impire to task.


Impire is the sort of game that presents as a wonderfully anarchic playground, promising hours of fun designing sprawling dungeons and laying devious traps for the various do-gooders in the world as well as offering the ability to raid the over-world in search of resources.

Impire presents well; the aesthetic and graphical fidelity give the game a strong visual personality, and the rooms are littered with small details. The texture work could be better, however the shadows and the lighting effects are excellent, whilst the colour palette is satisfyingly varied and gives each room, from the forge to the arcanum, a distinctive atmosphere.

The animation is very good, even if it is a bit limited in places. Units only tend to have a single attack animation, unless they are ranged units which have both a ranged attack and a melee attack; there could have been a few more walking animations as it seems that most creatures, barring a few notable exceptions in the second faction, the Soulless, are bi-pedal and the shortage of creeping, crawling, skittering, slithering and flying is a little bit of a missed opportunity. What’s an evil-doers army without a few insectoids or be-winged terrors?

impireOne thing especially worth mentioning is the user-interface. For the most part it’s incredibly slick, useful, and well designed. The interface is so well designed, in fact, that the player is likely to spend most of their time in the overview screen, rather than looking at their dungeon. This would be a shame, as the player would be missing out on all the action, if it weren’t for the handy embedded camera system.

Each significant feature on the map – rooms, workers, squads, Baal-Abaddon – can be moused over to show a full camera view of that feature and what is going on around that feature. This could be a squad in a fight, or something going on in a particular room. The feature isn’t perfect, it doesn’t show the health bars of squad members for instance, but it is handy none-the-less and the activation of the embedded camera is seamless.

Overall, the UI is one of the most useful I’ve yet experienced in any sort of RTS or management sim. Transitioning between the various menus, sub-menus and other such features is not only intuitive, it’s all seamless.

Impire’s campaign focusses on a demon by the name of Baal-Abaddon who has been summoned by a moronic sorcerer named Oscar van Fairweather. We are told that Baal is usually quite a powerful chap, but van Fairweather’s incompetence has trapped him in the body of an imp. Part of your quest, the other being general villainy, is to restore Baal to his former glory.

The story starts well, but never really gets going with any sort of pacing being utterly destroyed by the awful gameplay mechanics that take reasonable, if uninspired, missions and make them descend into onerous tedium.

The heart of the problem lies in the failure to realise some of the core aspects of management simulation RTS games:

There is no real “management” in Impire; there is no upkeep for troops and rooms, and resources are very easy to come by so producing new units and rooms is very easy. You don’t need to worry about morale, supplying your kitchens, or even providing a place to sleep. The kitchens themselves are technically unnecessary additions (although they are useful for healing injured troops).