Title: Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates Genre: RPG Publisher: Coin Operated Games Developer: Coin Operated Games Platform: Steam Release Date: 10/04/2017
“Water, Water, Everywhere; But Not a Drop to Drink”
You have been chosen to save neo-Victorian era New York City from dehydration in this Steampunk Roleplaying game.
It's the 19th century and all of the world's coastal cities have been flooded. You play as one of the few residents of New York City who choose to remain behind after the flood. Society has managed to survive and adjust to the new environmental changes by pumping fresh water into the city, but fear and concern sweep through the streets when the pipes stop pumping and the very real threat of drought and dehydration hangs in the air.
Like most, if not all tactical RPGs, you get a birds-eye view of your locations which is perfect for planning your attack. The overhead display brilliantly allows the player to soak in the Victorian era scenery (see what I did there?) of flooded New York City. When engaging in a confrontation, the game enters a tactical battle mode. The overlaying grid that becomes visible while in this mode allows the player to plan out their attack while the game is “paused” then plays out said attack once the game is resumed. This takes some getting used to as the characters are not intuitive and will stand in place once their foe is defeated regardless if there is another foe attacking them. There are a number of tactics that will take some time to complete like switching weapons, healing yourself or others, and opening the player's inventory.
Fight or Dehydrate
The story starts off pretty intense. The wealthy have run off and gangs fight for power. The only source of clean water come in pipes which have stopped mysteriously. Now the people of Manhattan, New York have been using their water reserves, but they are dangerously low. It's up to your chosen hero to find out how to fix it along with others with similar and/or personal interests.
Four Faces, One Soul
Unfortunately, Empyre is very linear. I've played two of the four characters and they share the same dialog and family. The only difference is the skills of your hero. I've tried different dialog choices, but they brought me to the same outcome. I would have liked some individuality to the heroes' story or dialog for replayability or even different results from my opposite dialog choices; but it's fun for your first playthrough.
To Drink, or not to Drink?
Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates brilliantly includes names from and references to the 19th century. This is the real New York City of the past aside from the story. Unfortunately, the story is the strongest point of the game. The gameplay left us wanting and in our personal opinion, the Empyre experience is too steep at $29.99. Only those who are hardcore fans of the tactical RPG genre need apply. If you fall into that category, give this game a shot!