Friday 16 October 2020

Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars ★★★☆☆

Welcome to our review of Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars, available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a turn-based strategy game by Palindrome Interactive. Set in an alternative version of the 15th century, in which vampires rule and humanity is subservient to their bloodsucking overlords. Those who ‘donate’ their blood are spared any grief, but those who resist might want to stock up on stakes and garlic. 

It’s an interesting premise, that promises to blend the best of the Total War series with the timeless cool factor that vampires exude. But does it hit the mark, or is it Dracu-lame*? Read on to find out…

Firstly, it’s worth noting how cool the world of Immortal Realms is. You play as one of three vampire clans: the pretty vanilla Dracul (led by bad boy Vlad), the human-hating Moroia nobles (the more magical class) and the feral Nosfernus (the monstrous bruisers). There’s also the encroaching Human Empire, who threaten the vampiric rule over the land. A lot of it might just be flavour narrative, but it definitely helps you to immerse yourself in the world and weaves into the gameplay seamlessly.

Speaking of gameplay, it’s a much more fast-paced, streamline affair compared to most turn-based titles. Instead of starting with a blank map and having to choose which buildings to craft, each location simply has three upgrade levels. What’s more, buildings are already present on the map, you just have to capture them. Rather than doing the work for you, this system makes you think differently; there are key buildings that everyone wants, and instead of building your own, you’ll have to take them and defend them. This scarcity drives the conflict forward at a tremendous speed, and the absence of building or recruit times only augments this. 

Streamlining the experience by no means dumbs it down, either. Each faction has its own mechanics and units to learn, and you’ll have to really spend some time with each to get your strategy optimised. In a genre known for being a little more on the methodical side, the pace really helps Immortal Realms stand out.

The game itself is broken out into two main game modes. The Story campaign consists of twelve missions, four for each of the three factions. Admittedly, it’s all pretty average, making everything too linear to dive into the best elements of the gameplay. The Sandbox mode is far better. It offers classic free for all, winner takes all matches, where the gameplay takes place unhindered from any artificial narrative. A decent tutorial means you can basically skip the story altogether and jump straight into the good stuff. 

Looking to graphics, don’t expect ‘triple-A’ visuals. The game looks fine and does everything needed to help you quickly and clearly establish what’s going on during combat, however it doesn’t appear much more advanced than a mobile game. Likewise, the soundtrack is serviceable, however, the voice acting leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not inherently awful, but after a couple of games you will have heard the same lines over and over again, and they quickly become tiresome.

To wrap up, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a slick strategy game with a really fun premise. It’s nice that it isn't needlessly complicated for the sake of it, making it a great title for newer players to dive into the genre. We’d recommend picking it up on the Switch; the visuals are a lot more forgivable on the tablet screen, and the fast pace of combat makes it perfect for the portable console. 
*I’m so very, very sorry.

Tom Baker

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