Imagine what it must be like to be an evil lord. You’re there, clad head to toe in some pretty badass armour, knowing full well that just one glare at any mere mortal is enough to make them crumble into dust and consequently allow you to rule the earth as your own. At least, that’s the ideal. In Cyanide Studio’s Impire though, things have gone a little bit wrong and you’ve been summoned into the world of the living by a rather incompetent sorcerer, who’s managed to conjure you into the body of a less than impressive imp. Of course, this is the perfect time for you to break free of his control and begin your own ‘Impire’ to regain the majesty you had in on your throne of skulls.
Taking control of the demon Báal-Abaddon, you’ve been tasked with creating and building your own dungeon to manifest your own demon army. It’s from here you can create minions to do your work, summon beasts to fight your battles and even call forth the powers of a seductive succubus to entice heroes into a world of hurt. You can build your units into squads who will then either patrol your dungeon – protecting it from incoming hero raids – or go out into the world to raid other dungeons and take out heroes so you can gain treasure and stockpile your riches.
Two paragraphs in and already this sounds like one ambitious title, especially when the protagonist is as small as an imp. It doesn’t end there though as the dungeon management is on par with Bullfrog’s stellar Dungeon Keeper titles, requiring you to manage how you lay your dungeon out, where you place traps and corridors and how you utilise space - ultimately ensuring that not only can you access everything you need effortlessly, but that incoming heroes can’t tear it apart with ease. Yes, as your notoriety rises you’ll begin to gain the attention of local heroes who believe they can easily best you in their quest to find the riches you possess. It’s here that Impire becomes almost like a tower defence game, requiring you to protect your colossal dungeon – even when you’re out on raids yourself. This means that defence is key, and not just defence at the main entrance as many heroes will have the ability to warp in and drop themselves nearly anywhere inside your sprawling lair.
On the flip side, you can hinder heroes progress by going out into the world and killing them before they have much of a chance to come find you. Obviously you won’t be hunting down individual heroes, but you can go out and ward off others by killing a few on your treasure raids. And you will want to go raiding for treasure as it’s the key to expanding your ‘impire’ by any meaningful way. Interestingly it was also mentioned that you could build taverns to keep these heroes pumped full of food and alcohol – thus impeding their effectiveness in combat when they try to drunkenly stumble into your dungeon, and making them easier to capture and hold ransom.
Of course, no self-respecting dungeon management meets RPG game could be complete if it didn’t have a tech tree to climb, and so Impire delivers on that too. With the tech tree you’ll be able to build new room types and create new minons – as well as having some new abilities of your own. You gain points through meeting in-game achievements and then spend said points on upgrades and cards. Cards allow for you to customise your skills and thanks to an in-game store you can snap up some non game-breaking cosmetic modifications and extra skill cards for you to use. Customising your imp isn’t just an exercise in cosmetic futility, it actually has an impact as it’ll bring new characteristics to your character – which can prove useful in battle.
A multiplayer modes is also included for those who wish to work with, or against, another imp – or three. Here you’ll have all the threats of before, plust another evil lord to deal with while you raid and protect your dungeon. Nicely though you wont end up with identical dungeons everywhere as Cyanide have gone to a great effort of completely redesigning units and rooms depending on the particular type of imp you’re playing as. It’s pretty impressive stuff really. Another interesting feature is that if you wish to heal a unit you must sacrifice an old one in the inventively named ‘sacrifice room’.
There’s no denying that this is one heck of an ambitious title, and if Cyanide Studios and Paradox Interactive manage to pull it off without a hitch then it’ll certainly be a game that’ll easily gain a cult following, if not more. With elements of management, RPG play and tower defence Impire literally has something to please almost any PC player out there; and even more features could be added between now and it’s Q1 2013 release. In the end it’ll be a welcome addition to the rich lore of Majesty and it’s world of Ardania.