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Friday, February 15, 2013

Impire and Dishonored

Before I dive into my review of Paradox Studios' Impire, I need to made an addendum to my last post.

I was remiss in not mentioning Dishonored among the games listed. Dishonored occupied most of my time in December and early January - and with good reason. First, it was a game given to me by a good friend I know via Steam who has great taste in games and usually supports the more independent studios (which added to the surprise of receiving this title). Second, Dishonored is a very unique roleplaying game.

Let me explain.

Over the years, I've experienced RPGs that have open-ended conversations. If you screwed up in a conversation with branching responses, and didn't get the information you needed, you would just approach the character on the screen and go through the whole answer and response show until you got it right. Last year, when I played Deus Ex: Human Revolution, it was great to see a game that had conversation branches get shut down after you selected a certain response, or if you handled situation with the hammy-est of fists.

In Dishonored, there are still conversational options, but the game is more reactive to actions than platitudes. There's no one way to play Dishonored - which itself is like a cross between V for Vendetta and Batman set in an alternate universe along the Hudson River at the turn of the last century. You can accomplish tasks as a blade-happy cutthroat, or you can take the pacifist's route and leave no one harmed in any way. Of course, most players I've run into find a happy medium. However, if you prefer going all crazy and killing on sight, NPCs are going to react in a way you'd expect them to when someone dripping in blood just pauses to ask a stranger for the time of day. Use discretion, and people won't be any the wiser.

The game goes one step further by shutting down certain options and quests depending on your playing style, leaving plenty of replay value to the game. I cannot recommend Dishonored enough if you like a world that's rich in context, and has some very deep gameplay - if you don't rush. Like many games that come out of Bethesda's publishing house (the game was developed by Arkane), the world-building is well thought out, and very detailed. If you've been looking for a game that reacts to how you play, definitely check out Dishonored.

Conclusion: BUY IT!

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Impire comes from Paradox Studios (Crusader Kings, Magicka, Dungeonland, etc.) and places you in the role of a demon who's been yanked from Hell to the mortal plane to embody an imp - possibly as an error or oversight in your summoner's casting.

Regardless, your summoner seems to have a problem with the do-gooders of the world, and has put you in charge of bringing about suffering and ruination. This could be fun!

At first blush, you may be expecting this:
Empowering AND objectifying!

As you contemplate your wallet, however, you may be reminded of games like this...


...and decide to just sit this one out.

If you liked Dungeon Keeper, and remember it for the awesome facets of the game, then anything made in that vein is going to make you think it's a weak contender for the throne. If you play something that takes the concept of Dungeon Keeper in a new direction, then your thinking might fall along the lines of "This is too different. They should have just made Dungeon Keeper." If you're cynical enough to be prone to this, then just load up Dungeon Keeper and be happy.

You will never be this happy again.

Now that you've been introduced to my straw man (I built him myself, just a paragraph ago), let me tell you about Paradox Studios' new game, Impire.

It's fun. In addition to managing resources, minions, and exploring the depths of a dungeon, Impire also has a management mode, which is great for those who want to run the game a la Supreme Commander, without zooming the camera around to see what's going on everywhere.
HAHAHAHA It's funny because it made a reference!

There are also side quests and objectives that require you to take squads of minions (you can organize your troops and promote them) and raid overworld locations (such as other villages, ballet schools, stables, etc.). I'm only a few campaign missions into Impire, and there doesn't seem to be much depth to the overworld raids - however, I do like being able to influence the game world more than by simply killing Lord Dovetonsils when he invades my dungeon.

Below the earth, there is a great deal to be done. Minions and rooms can be researched; there is crafting; creature and spell evolution; and even the titular imp, Baal-Abaddon, and grow into the the fierce and imposing demon he was before getting yanked to the mortal plane.
I am not one of the cool kids, so watch a video not made by me.

As far as game mechanics go, Impire takes advantage of the Management Screen (mentioned above), as well as action menu wheels which come up when you right-click on a creature or room. This makes setting destinations, casting spells, teleporting, repairing, converting food to building resources, and anything else, so much easier than...ahem...older games.
Managing things from above to spread destruction from below.

The downside is that the game crashes occasionally when you tell minions to do things, like dig tunnels - which is quite integral to the game (the digging, not the crashing) - However, I'm sure Paradox will fix this very shortly, because if one person's getting the error (and not intentionally trying to break the game), odds are pretty good that more people are experiencing similar issues. One error aside, Impire is a great resource management game that lets you be as evil as you want. Be a hoarder. Be an explorer. Be bad. It's fun!
Never ask a question if you don't want a response.
Ultimately, I'm having a lot of fun with Impire, and probably will for may, MANY hours. For $20 (USD), Impire is worth the investment, so long as you're looking for a solid game that doesn't pretend to recapture nostalgia and cram it down your throat - but it also avoids a lot of the traps and pitfalls that Dungeon Keeper imitators fell into over the years.

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