Immortal Empire ReviewRhain Radford-Burns
Tactics games aren't really my thing. Let's get that out of the way before we begin.
It's not that they're boring, or unentertaining, or anything of the sort. But they tend to take up a lot of time, which is not something that many gamers have much of. It's often not worth spending money on a game that will hardly be played.
That's partly where Immortal Empire shines. Firstly, it's free, so that "spending money" concern is completely eradicated. It also makes the "hardly played" concern fairly irrelevant. In fact, Immortal Empire almost feels like a game that shouldn't be played in such a hardcore way. And I'm not the only one who seems to think so: when I asked some of the other players what they thought of the game, one responded that "it's a good time waster, especially when waiting for downloads". While that may not have been the developer's intentions, I feel as though that's what Immortal Empire is good for. That's one of its best uses: to be an enjoyable time waster. Isn't that what video games should be in the first place?
When I started up the game, on a fairly low-end (but still pretty decent) PC, the first thing I noticed was how awkward the opening screen presented itself. The screen continually flickered to black, presumably in an attempt to find the best setting available for my system. When I eventually got the flickering to stop (by glancing at the screen in the intervals between the black), I was presented with some nice looking artwork and character designs. If there's one compliment I can give this game, it's that it has a good art style. Not entirely unique-nothing I haven't seen a dozen times before-but striking nonetheless.
Before long, I was thrown into the game's tutorial level. And, to be honest, I wasn't entirely sure what I was supposed to do. The tutorial had a tendency to present me with problems, with no clear solutions, or any hints towards a potential solution. While this may work in some games, it doesn't feel like the greatest idea for a tactics/strategy game, and as someone who is fairly fresh to the genre, I felt a little alienated.
But the gameplay mechanics are fairly simple anyway, so it's not long before I worked out the basics of the game: each player controls up to five characters (known as Immortals), which have their own attacks, spells, and statistics. There are five Immortals for players to choose from, with an additional eight are available through purchasing with real money. Some may consider this a sort of pay-to-win model, but the developers have to earn their money somewhere, right? If some players feel that the game is worth a financial investment, then they should feel free to do so. I should also mention that it is possible to unlock these characters without real money, through accumulating a fair amount of in-game currency, but it is likely to take a while to do this.
Once the tutorial was over, it wasn't long before I was being introduced to the game's story. The cutscenes are decent but uninspired, and the voice acting is mediocre at best, but it does set up the story in a way that is easy to grasp. Your character awakes with no memory of the past, but soon discovers that they are an Immortal: a wondrous champion, with great strength. Prior to awakening, your character was close to death, but was resurrected by a mysterious man. It might sound a little cliché, but I don't think many people are going to be playing this game for the story, anyway.
Immortal Empire is a game that looks good: while the art style isn't extraordinary, and some of the earlier levels in particular don't have much variety to them, there were a few moments that stood out to me, like when it rained fairly early on. The game sounds good too: the use of sound effects is great, with some pretty convincing noises, and the music feels very nice, and fitting to the game, its genre, and setting.
The core mechanic of this game that will determine its long-lasting success is the multiplayer. Simply put, this game is more fun to play with friends. As for how much fun, I can't really say, since I spent most of my experience playing solo. But I can say that playing by yourself probably won't result in you playing the game for too long: you're likely to play for a few hours, enjoy what the game has to offer, and then move onto something else. I'm not expecting to jump back into the game too often from now on, but I'll certainly check it out from time to time. Unless I can convince my friends to start playing it, in which case I suspect I'll be playing it fairly regularly.
The thing is, Immortal Empire is not a bad game, by any means. But, in saying that, it's not a great game either. As I stated earlier, it's a fun game to waste time in, and the gameplay mechanics are simple enough to grasp to do this. Most players likely won't find themselves rushing home to play more, or excitedly talking to their friends about it in their free time, but it's undoubtedly a fun game, and one that's easy to pick up and play. It's also free.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.