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By Mokman28-02-2013
Bis18marck70 (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)

The Defence

Cyanide Studios
Paradox Interactive
Strategy, Role Playing
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000
Nvidia GeForce 8800
AMD Radeon HD 3850
3 GB
1.5 GB

The Case


Perhaps it says something about my character that my fondest memories of gaming are those where I orchestrated the dooms of erstwhile heroes, in a variety of great games such as Dungeon Keeper or Evil Genius. Or marauding and terrorizing common folk in Overlord, the extremely well-written and (a rarity in gaming) actually funny action-RPG where one commands a bunch of hooligan minions when ransacking the country. Thus, you can imagine my anticipation when I first heard about Impire, a game that apparently combines the management aspects and the action-RPG aspects of the aforementioned games. Then - I saw itl. For right below the title of the game, lay three words that changed everything - Publisher: Paradox Interactive.

For those who do not know, Paradox Interactive is Swedish game developer and publishing company famed for making brilliant, innovative, but buggy-as-hell games. Whereas other companies now mass-produce games polished to dullness, Paradox Interactive takes the alternative route and creates gems so unpolished often the mud hasn't even been washed off. All this means though, is that one thing's for certain. Impire is going to have bugs, terrible voice-acting and keyboard-smashingly frustrating gameplay, all tacked onto a brilliant game.

The Trial


The premise behind Impire is simple enough. A dungeon management game, it incorporates elements of an RPG in the form of your lead a demon, a demon turned little imp that grows in power as you progress throughout the game, alongside the growth of your dungeon. Under this imp leader, one is also able to command squads of other imps, as well as various other demons, resulting in a strange amalgamation of an RPG, an RTS and the aforementioned management simulator. There exists not only a campaign mode, but also multiplayer and skirmishes, allowing for quite microcosms of the campaign in the form of dungeons facing off against each other, with two factions: The infernal Imps and their ghostly counterparts. But how does the game fare?

Kitchens refresh your minion's combat ability and give them a place to hang out in between fights.

Kitchens refresh your minion's combat ability and give them a place to hang out in between fights.

Well, the gameplay is interesting, sure enough. The unique nature of the game stems from its variety, with a startling amount of different factors and variables all embodied in a single session. One has a large amount of things to take into account, from the growth of your main imp, to the layout of the dungeon, to the small battles that may be micromanaged between the denizens of yours and your rival's dungeons, as well as fighting off the various heroes that attempt to infiltrate and invade your dungeon so as to ransack the place. In essence, the game consists of all elements required for a decent RTS, RPG and management simulator. This in itself almost saves the game, as the player never finds himself wanting for something to do, be it create new tunnels, building up his army or levelling his main character.

However, this is where the problem arises. Though the game consists of all the elements required, it lacks the depth needed to make a proper game of either genre. For example, in the RPG portion of the game, there are only three skill trees that the player may choose from, each of them resembling more to a branch than tree. In the RTS, the variety of units is offset by the lack of any proper strategic mechanics, instead relying mostly on sheer numbers to overwhelm opponents rather than tactical or strategic decisions. Arguably, the most well-done portion is the management of the dungeon, a genuinely fun factor that kept me occupied for most of the game. However, even there it is strangely uninspired, only possessing expected rooms and basic tunnelling, following what seems to be a simple formula. That is, to me, the greatest disappointment of all. Though one could make many accusations of Paradox Interactive in regards to their games, one normally would not accuse them of unoriginality.

Combat is surprisingly fun when not impaired by the horrible level design.

Combat is surprisingly fun when not impaired by the horrible level design.

From here on, it gets worse. Graphics-wise, the game is outdated and even though this is to be expected from a Paradox game, it is still disappointing. What's worse, the level design and most importantly, the character design, is atrociously boring. History has shown that games such as these thrive upon characterful and flavourful character design, such as the minions from Overlord, the crazed henchmen from Evil Genius, or the wonderful denizens of your dungeon in Dungeon Keeper. Impire lacks any of this, settling for forgettable designs at best. And let's not even go into the painfully bad voice-acting, masking middling dialogue with humour that all too often, falls flat. The audio is decent at best, but still, nothing to write home about. The music fits, but does not contain much variety, looping over once the end of the reel had been reached.

The Verdict


In conclusion then, this is definitely not what I had expected from Paradox. I had expected a buggy, half-broken, beautiful mess that would still entertain me for hours despite its flaws, a gem in the rough. Instead I had found a plastic trinket with many dull, fake gems stuck onto it with superglue. It tries too hard to be everything and falls just short of being interesting. Hell, even the bugs are non-existent in this game. Now that's definitely not what I expect from Paradox Interactive.

Case Review

  • Variety is Best?: You will definitely not run out of things to do at least, not with all the action going on in your dungeon.
  • Ambitious but Rubbish: Tries to be a game with everything, but stops short of being interesting.
  • Decent Audio and Graphics: Taking into account the production values of the game, these factors are understandably decent.
  • Meh: But that doesn’t mean you’ll want to do those things over and over again.
  • Isn’t that my main character? Eh: Uninspired and boring character design kills whatever charm it tries to convey.
Score: 3/5
Tries to be many things but stops short of being interesting
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