Let's just get this out of the way: Impire does not hold a candle to Dungeon Keeper, neither in its design nor its execution. Like ripping off a sticking plaster, it's best to break the news quickly. It might sting a little, but it's best to tear away that hope so that we can start the healing process proper. With that out of the way, let's establish what Impire is rather than what it isn't.
Impire tells the story of Baal, a demon summoned from the depths of hell by an inept magician named Oscar Van Fairweather. Together, Baal and Van Fairweather plot to exert dominion over the land of Ardania. They must also return Baal to his former, formidable, flame-wreathed self after the summoning process inadvertently shrinks him to a diminutive imp with a comical wiseguy accent. These nefarious goals are achieved through a mix of dungeon-building, real-time strategy and a sprinkling of role-playing game elements. Don't get your hopes up, though - it sounds a lot more promising than it is.
The storyline is, by turns, cutesy-evil and outright depraved. Objectives range from the hostile takeover of a booze business to the hijack of medical supplies that are on their way to an orphanage. Much of the story is delivered via long-winded exposition that quickly becomes tiresome; animation loops are frequently repeated while crass jokes, poorly conceived puns and modern-day memes spew forth from the characters' unmoving lips.
It's not Dungeon Keeper, but Cyanide's RTS summons the spirit of Molyneux's classic.
Morality is a complex thing. I don't think we should be quick to judge and, in particular, I don't think you should be quick to judge me just because I happen to enjoy my new job as a dungeon master. I know how it looks when teams of warriors, wizards and priests travel great distances to find me and to fight me, only to find themselves pressed into service as dummies in my training room, but I want you to remember that these people are hunting me in my own home. They're walking through corridors that I carved myself and trashing all the facilities that I painstakingly assembled and arranged. They're ruining my mushroom-based economy and for this there must be Consequences.
Look around. I built all this myself, mostly with my own money (a small percentage of that may technically have been plundered, but I don't have those figures to hand right now) and these people are ruining my livelihood, the job that I've come to love, and I really do love it. When Milton wrote that it's better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven, I think he was saying that there's a lot more to enjoy when you work down under. There's less bureaucracy, fewer forms to fill in and more of a laissez-faire philosophy. Who cares if I cut a few corners? Or people?
Impire is a mission-based game of real-time dungeon construction and defense, of carving out self-sufficient subterranean lairs and making sure they weather the challenges of the day, be those rival dungeon masters or wandering heroes looking for loot. For those of us of a certain age, the premise behind Impire, plus its often gruesome sense of humour, will immediately summon memories of a certain classic of years gone by. If Peter Molyneux's Dungeon Keeper is not the elephant in the room when I talk to Yves Bordeleau, director of Cyanide Studios, it's certainly a demon that he's all too happy to summon up. Clearly there's some inspiration there, he says, but he's keen to exorcise the idea that this is any sort of modern-day remake. The theme is the same, but the execution is quite different.
Game of Thrones developer Cyanide is working on a PC strategy game called Impire due Q1 next year, publisher Paradox Interactive has announced.
The game will put players in the role of a demonic lord named BŠal-Abaddon trapped in the body of a lowly imp after being summoned by an incompetent sorcerer.
BŠal-Abaddon is a tricky bugger though and quickly rises to power in the imp community, where you must utilise his underlings to protect the demonic compound from invading would-be do-gooders. This involves laying traps, learning spells, commanding troops and constructing your fortress.