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Imperatum Review

Hey kids, want a fun science fiction role playing adventure? Do you want to explore exciting worlds with a character of your own design? Well, Mass Effect came out ten years ago and Imperatum is a poor, poor substitute. Barely fun even when functional, the ARPG is something to keep in the next galaxy over.

Imperatum Review

intro

As a critic, I'm always wary of taking on RPG assignments. Metaphorically, you have to be pretty hungry to tackle an RPG. Most other genres can be compared to a meal, possible to finish, however unpleasent it may be. Taking on an RPG is more akin to a buffet, and you have to at least try to try EVERYTHING. What I played of Imperatum by Pro Social Games is just a mouthful to continue this metaphor, but it tasted funky and the rest of the buffet didn't look better. Look, I tried with this game, I really did, but it crashed when I got past a certain point, then shunted me back to the tutorial. Then I tried again to get past it after doing more stuff in an area, then it crashed again and picked up after some important story stuff had happened and at that point I was lost. The abiance and animations are competent at best, the difficulty is all over the place, and the story isn't enough to make me brave all of this. Look, there are competent science fiction ARPGs out there, but man this one does not deserve to be in full release yet.

Imperatum is available on Steam for $19.99

Imperatum Review, I know what you're thinking "are there swarms?" Yes, dear reader, there are.

Story

Something about a race of energy beings who came and for reasons unknown scattered humanity to the stars. The aliens block radio signals, so these scraps of the human race can't even communicate over long distances. You are an agent thrust into her first mission which will, to quote the game page on steam "unravel the mystery of the veil that is consuming the galaxy," which first off is a mixed metaphor, veils don't eat things, but that would make weddings much more interesting. The fact of the matter is I only know this much about my character because of the page on Steam. Even naming your character is almost an afterthought to the game. No, the fact that it's a female main character doesn't give them points because that would require her to be a character. I know you open the game in a simulation, which could be to keep her sharp or it could be the final training exercise, I wasn't sure. Even so unless this is a rogue holodeck situation you shouldn't be keeping the stuff you found there. I can't give much more criticism to the story because I don't know what it's supposed to be, I just have the fragmented bits and pieces I got between crashes. Still, I didn't see much i wouldn't in a million other sci-fi games.

Imperatum Review, How am I supposed to care about a character I can only name as an afterthought?

Gameplay

I'm going to do something a bit different here, just for fun, and go down the Steam page and, on their bullet points, and comment on how well they actually did.

Intense combat

Actually…not bad. There are a ton of unique weapons to choose from and the combat is easy enough to get a hold of. Doesn't do a ton differently, but that also means that the ground it treads is tried and true. Now, the quick slots are another story. See, the tutorial doesn't really actually explain anything so I figured out how to switch out the first slot but clicking and dragging didn't work and hitting the numbers didn't work so I was kind of at a loss and got stuck with my level 1 support items. That is, until I accidentally took out two of them and couldn't replace them so all i had was one basic heal.

"Intense" is a good term too, it was pretty intense running from enemies because no one else has range and so I had to resort to the shoddiest guerella tactics known to man. There really isn't any use for tactics here, just mowing down hordes of enemies. There isn't even any elevation bonuses, in fact being on high ground just makes you shoot over your enemies' heads. With no crowd control abilities, at least starting off, the hordes and hordes of enemies become a swarm that you can either run and take some pot shots at, or just stand in the middle of and hope that you kill them before your health hits 0.

If you do die though, don't worry. You just respawn at the last checkpoint while retaining your progress, so there really aren't any to losing. I guess that is an asterisk on the whole "intense" thing but I can't say that the combat is completely incompetent. It's just more of an endurance test than tactical positioning and shooting.

Imperatum Review, I died here, but it's okay.  Her health stayed there.

Character customization

Maybe…? See, like I said, the naming of your character is an afterthought and you can change it whenever you want, and the other isn't much better. The game told me I leveled up but it didn't tell me which menu to go to in order to get new skills, but I did figure it out way too late. The game boasts some unique system in which your skills can be slotted as actives or passives on each other, which was a system that reminds me most of Transistor, but that game did an adequate job of explaining how to use it as well as not crashing for long enough to let you figure it out. The system does sound interesting and I would have loved to play with it a bit, it's a shame that I either could never use it or the game just never told me how. I tried every menu I could and I fond no way to do this. Even so, with a new system that you are claiming is innovative, the burden shouldn't be on the player to figure out how to use it. To perfect it yes, but the game should at least tell the player how to start.  I got nothing.

Aside from that, you have your basic melee, range, magic skills trees, which are effective if unoriginal.

Imperatum Review, This pops up when you hit "C".  You cannot spend stat points here.

All the loot

Again, not bad. Each enemy drops a metric ton of loot like they were millionaire pinatas.  It's honestly overwhelming, but the automatic comparison makes deciding what gear you should have quick and painless. The different weapons do feel different in how they feel, but not enough to make it worth taking something with less DPS because it matches your play style just a little better.

And here we will get into what I like the most about this game, and I don't even mean that as good for this game, I mean as a good point in I wish more games would use this: you don't need to go back anywhere to get rid of your excess loot. You can break it down immediately into crafting materials then and there. I hate the incessent going back and forth whenever your inventory gets full, and it gets full fast. So good job Pro Social Games, you did a good. Your game may be lacking, but you did a good here.

Vast Sci-Fi Universe

Well…It seems big but you only really move from one place to another in a linear progression, at least with what the game let me play. If it is vast, it doesn't feel vast.  Typically games boasting a massive world allow for you to explore it at your convenience, they don't just haphazardly use a fragmented story to take you from point A to point B.  

Imperatum Review, well...that's definitely a planet

Targeting overlay

…Wow, really scraping the bottom of the barrel to find selling points, are we? I mean, yes it has one and yes it works but this is kind of a standard feature for games now. You don't get bonus points for writing the date on your test, kids, that's just expected.

Healthy Player mechanics

This is definitely something new exclusive to this game. Other games may just tell you in the load screens to be sure to take frequent breaks, but this is the first one I've ever seen to actually give you bonuses if you are what the game considers a "healthy player". By the way, that means taking five minute breaks after 55 minutes of play. I mean…good thought in lieu of being able to connect the game to a Weight Watchers accont. Personally, since I could barely stand this game for more than 40 minutes at a time, I barely noticed.

Imperatum Review, It's weird this is in an RPG, which is built around playing for thirty hours straight.

Anything else?

Yes, one more thing.  Where is the save button? These games are made for people to incessently save as they get further and further and yet there is nothing. That would have saved me having to go back to that drawn out tutorial after my first fatal crash and perhaps would have spared the game some of my bile at this point. I recognize that after dying the game picks up right where you left off, you just get moved back on the map, but that's a poor substitute, especially when a game is as technically unreliable as this.

Imperatum Review, No, I'd like to SAVE MY GAME like EVERY OTHER GAME lets me do.

Graphics and audio

This game doesn't look bad. The character models aren't bad, the different stages look decent and visually distinct enough, it's competently done. Well, at least it would be if all the characters were staying still. The animations, especially on the player character, are garbage. My personal favorite was the animation for the two handed sword, which just had the avatar swint the sword down like me after my first sword lesson when I was 12. There's also some kind of hilarious bugs where your enemies move around by standing unmoving in the ground and floating towards you.  

The audio is in the same boat. The music isn't terrible and the ambiance is suitable. The weapon effects, however, range from passable to laughable. I got endless joy from a particular rifle, I think it was a plasma rifle, that sounded to me like a baby hiccuping every time and it fired fairly quickly.  

Imperatum Review, also I'm one handing this power hammer.  No.

conclusion

While certainly not the worst game I've ever played, this is definitely down there. It isn't like the game is actively incompetent, but it definitely is not a 20 dollar full release. The bugs make it nearly unplayable, the story is fragmented by the crashes and even then it doesn't seem to be doing much new, and the game fails to explain the supposedly innovative points that it tries to sell the audience on. It's a pity, because I could see the potential of a game like this. Isometric ARPGs are kind of a sword and sorcery club, the fact that it's a spacefaring adventure would make it kind of unique in and of itself, but it's too mired in its other issues. If it fixed the game breaking bugs, added more exploration and animations, and let the tutorial explain everything, this could have been a game that kept me cloistered in my room for hours. As is, it's a complete mess with a few little gold nuggets in there.  Take my advice and keep this one a light year away.

PROSCONS
+ Skill-mixing system– Game never explains the new stuff
+ Lots of loot!– Not much strategy
+ Inventory clearing without a merchant– Shoddy animations
– No personality in your character
– Consistent crashes
3.8
Bad

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