Party RPG in neo-Victorian style with elements of steampunk and alternative history, in which you can threaten interlocutors, save girls from sexual slavery and fly on zeppelin. And the story for her was written by Paul Noth, Emmy nominee, comic book writer, animated series writer, journalist The New Yorker, who worked for Late Night, Saturday Night Live, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Nickelodeon. It would seem that here they are, dreams that come true. What can go wrong in such a game? ..
Indeed, the plot, invented by the titled Paul Noth, is not that intriguing, but is able to interest and captivate. The action of Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates takes place in the alternative America of 1911. After in 1899 the main coastal cities of the world were flooded, many residents left and New York. And those that remained, formed different groups and their city-states.
The most important condition for their survival is the replenishment of the fresh water supply through the pipes from the mainland. And then one day these stocks start to end abruptly. Actually, we must resolve this water crisis by going on a long trip. In the course of it he will have to look for allies, communicate with different groups, participate in the dismantling of the Italian mafiosi, save the girls from sexual slavery and prisoners from prisons, look for codes to launch Zeppelin, negotiate, fight, and so on.
Conversations and interesting situations in Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is quite a lot. As well as colorful characters, with which the party is constantly replenished. Suffice it to say that with us, among others, a virgin who beats the enemy with an umbrella travels, as well as a well-known wanted criminal who tries to solve all problems with his fists, threatens the interlocutors, asks to be distracted from the main task and look to take revenge on the old offender. And one day he breaks down, beats a cop (instead of calmly giving a bribe) and runs away in an unknown direction, leaving the party in an incomplete structure and a delicate situation.
It’s a pity that the story is very linear, there are very few choices in it, and they only affect some local things. In one of the side tasks, for example, we decide how to help the chief of the docks – to unload the boxes from the ship or find workers who have declared a strike. If you do the first, then soon there will be aggressive comrades who will use fists and revolvers. But additional tasks, in fact, the cat wept.
However, an interesting story and colorful characters can forgive and linearity, and a small number of side quests. Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates has more serious problems. Home – terrible technical performance. The game looks like the worsened version of Wasteland 2. Textures, models and animation – all this frankly smacks of mothballs. It is especially painful to look at how the characters move during battles – as if each of them is a doll that is stuck in a swamp.
The battles for mechanics themselves should seem to suit all fans of step-by-step fights. There are no action points. On a pause, we select each soldier and give him orders, what to do, where to run, whom and what to attack, what potion or tincture to use, sit down or stand in full growth, what take shelter, in which direction to aim and so on. And then we press the button and in real time we watch how they do all this. At any time, orders can be adjusted or canceled by giving new ones. In all this, an advanced tactical mechanics resembling Frozen Synapse is seen.
However, all this in theory, but in practice the performance turned out to be useless. The fighters slow down, listen to orders slowly, the management is nightmarish, uncomfortable and unintuitive, and together with a slowed-down and horrible animation, all this turns into a sophisticated torture. You just sit and pray that now there are only dialogues and some non-combat scenes. In addition, when determining the chance of getting into something, the factors of shelter, range, body position, and position taken are very crooked and illogical. Stealth is completely useless.
Approximately the same thing I want to say about the role system. In appearance everything is in place. Each character has many characteristics, “perks” and attributes that affect a wide variety of aspects – both the mastery of possession of “firearms” or melee weapons, and the chance to find something interesting, and to the trick used in dialogues. There is even such a parameter as “Nervousness” – it determines how fast the character can panic in combat.
But a lot of “pumped” automatically, and with each new level they are allowed to improve only one “skill”, that is, there is no creative development of the character.
In addition, many skills (well, except for combat ones) are rarely used. On large levels with the “pumped” skill Reason you can find just a couple of chests – it’s unclear why it was so much space and make us run around looking for “loot.” Moreover, at the end of each level the game itself offers a one-click button to collect everything that could be found here. To cheat in dialogs, too, allow only for large holidays.
Finally, in Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates, there is no “upgrade” of weapons, or “craft”. And the trade, which was made a special bet in the announcements, for half a game is found only once. Yes, and the money for which we carry out quests, especially have something to do now.
It seems that the authors reasoned like this: we have a cool well-known screenwriter and cool “zavlekalochki” for players – and everything, do nothing more, it’s enough to create a great game by itself. But this was enough only for intriguing announcements. No, playing Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is possible – for the sake of a more or less interesting story, periodically popping up unorganized situations (when, for example, you do not need to kill enemies, but handcuffed) and colorful characters. But at the same time, be prepared for the fact that you will find yourself in the role of those mice that cried, but ate a cactus.
Pros: an interesting story; unbanal neo-Victorian setting; colorful characters.
Cons: terrible technical performance; indigestible turn-based battles; a weak role-playing system.