Previews
Impire Is "The Bastard Child of Dawn of War and Dungeon Keeper"

Greg Tito | 4 Feb 2013 21:30
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The interface for Impire is refreshing because you can get by using just the mouse to issue commands to Baal and his units. Clicking on your units or a dungeon chamber brings up a circular context menu with useful icons all over it. Bordeleau and his team thought of everything, including a popup "picture in picture" window to give you a quick glimpse inside the various chambers of your underground empire. That way, you don't have to spend so much time zooming in and out, you can just hover your mouse over the unit to see their status.

Again, Bordeleau had a secret weapon for developing the interface. "The best way to test how the GUI controls games is to have your mom try it out," Bordeleau told me. Did he get his mom to play Impire? "Oh, absolutely. She wasn't using the keyboard at all. And I was like, 'Hey, that's cool.'"

She loves the little imp, Baal. "He's so cute!" But the thing is, over the course of playing Impire, Baal starts to grow up. You can choose abilities as Baal gains levels, not only getting better at combat but also looking more impressive along the way. I appreciated how these upgrades didn't follow the skill tree model but instead let you be a bit more organic in how you progressed by picking and choosing whatever felt cool to you.

Multiplayer in Impire sounds like it might really bring bigtime multiplayer RTS gameplay like StarCraft, but instead of building a base, you're building a dungeon. Each of the players starts in his little domain, and after a 5 minute timer, the doors open and you're free to start digging tunnels to reach the "battle area" in the center of the map. There's rule sets for Capture the Dragon's Egg (or Flag in non-fantasy terms) and King of the Hill.

"I see my dungeon, but I don't see your dungeon," Bordeleau explained about how the fog of war worked. The initial phase was essentially a race to discover the center battle area before your opponent did. They've even included a bunch of pre-built chambers to help speed up the pace of the first phase of the match, which I thought was a good call. You want players to feel on edge.

I wasn't able to get my hands on playing a multiplayer match myself, but everything Yves Bordeleau told me about it got me excited. In fact, that's pretty much a testament to the game itself. I only got to play a little bit of Impire, but I'm hungry to start carving up my little slice of the underworld when it comes out next month on PC.

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