Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars Review
Developer: Palindrome Interactive Publisher: Kalypso Media Release: 28 August 2020 Reviewed On: PC
The Total War series has been a titan in the strategy genre for almost two decades now. With detailed battles and conquest simulations covering important historic periods such as the Roman Empire and the Shogun conflict, fans had some fantastic games to play. The series won over a new fan with the foray into the fictional setting of the Warhammer universe, where players could have detailed battles using many monsters and other creatures. You are probably wondering; I thought, this is an Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars Review?
Don’t worry, this is an Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars review, but we cannot discuss the game without reference to the series which laid the foundation for its existence. Total War, and specifically the Warhammer games, introduced gamers to all the glory of the Total War games but in new settings and in command of fantastical forces.
The Total War series has since progressed to explore less fantastical but no less fantastic contexts, but a hunger remained for the command of fictional forces. Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars exists to fill this gap, and in this review we will give our opinion on whether it does a good job.
The basic premise
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars does exactly what is implied in the title, gives you the opportunity to take part in a war between vampire clans, as a vampire lord. The game does a fantastic job of setting the scene. All the elements of the game including art style, audio, and the UI draws players into a very vampiric setting. At no point during my time with the game was I confused about the fact that I am a vampire lord, fighting other vampire lords.
Some elements of the game reminded me of the fantastic Legacy of Kain: Defiance and how powerful I felt playing as the vampire Kain. The heroes of each vampire clan and their abilities are well crafted, and makes the player feel powerful and truly a force to be reckoned with.
What does it mean to be a vampire lord?
The basic gameplay loop is very similar to the Total War games. You fight to control different areas and use the resources from these areas to build your armies. Battle is not done in the overworld and is an instanced affair. This is one of the first areas where Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars shows its uniqueness in the genre.
Combat in Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is turn-based. This is a large departure from the real-time-with-pause combat of other games in the genre. Unit order is determined by an initiative score, so combat feels fluent and not my-turn-your-turn style. I found the combat to be quite enjoyable as I had a greater measure of control of the battlefield when compared to real-time settings. This meant I could position and maneuver my troops carefully and execute my plans to perfection.
The battlefields themselves are quite compact and it doesn’t take long for forces to clash. There are also certain grids on the battlefield that buff your troops, meaning the actual fighting usually happens around one of these spots. You can use debris and other elements of the landscape to create chokeholds where your strongest troops can demolish the enemy. This is possible because units can collide. In other words, units can’t pass through objects on the battlefield or through other groups of units.
The tactical options because of collisions were fun to use, but the collision system also created some frustration when a unit got blocked in or out of combat. This was even worse when the unit in question was an expensive troop, doomed to die trapped in combat.
A last element of combat that stood out is the role of your lord during the battle. Depending on the clan you choose to play, you have access to certain vampire lords with their own strengths and weaknesses. Strengths include a deck of cards that you can use to play abilities during battles. These abilities use mana, which is limited, and can quickly change the odds in combat. These cards were fun to use during battles and made your lord feel very powerful indeed.
Overall, I would say I had a fantastic time doing battle, although it became monotonous toward the end of the campaign and custom games.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars took an interesting approach to troops. They imposed quite a drastic restriction on players, meaning you can only recruit 9 units per army. Some units have more soldiers in the group, but their role on the battlefield is calculated as a single entity.
When you keep in mind that battles are turn-based, this makes sense as larger armies would have resulted in battles that last longer than necessary. One of the strong points of the game is its good pacing, and a maximum of 9 units per army makes this possible.
As for troop variety, there are enough different types of troops to recruit to enable satisfying strategies. Troops also have different roles, such as tanks and warriors that determine how they function at their best.
Of course fighting is not all you do, you also have a kingdom to manage. Efficient management of your kingdom gives you the means to build powerful armies and establish your presence in the world of Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars.
Right off the bat, the game does a fantastic job of making you feel like a ruthless vampire lord, with a singular focus on winning the war. Blood is used as the currency and humans are the source. As you explore the map, you can stop at villages along the way to harvest the humans living there for blood. It is brutal and effortless and you can return year on year to consume new humans that have settled in the village.
Management of your kingdom is very simple and revolves around claiming territories, upgrading buildings, and recruiting more lords for your armies. Claiming territories is as simple as moving to the area and spending a movement point to capture it. There is no way to defend many of these areas, so they trade hands quite frequently as the enemy moves through your lands. I found this slightly frustrating as the effort needed to capture some areas in terms of movement was high, only to lose it as you move away.
Upgrading buildings is just as easy. Once you own the area in which the building is located, simply choose one of the available upgrades, spend the required blood, and profit. Upgrading your buildings adds some reward for capturing certain areas, but still felt a bit underwhelming in the long run.
Recruiting new lords for your armies requires you to find manors and turn the nobles living there to your cause. This was quite exciting as new lords meant you had more armies to move around resulting in rapid growth of your strength.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars final thoughts
Total War, but for people who live in the fast lane. That is how I would describe my experience with Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars for this review. Not a revolutionary game, but one that takes a lot of good things from the Total War series and gives it new life in a compact and high-adrenaline package. If you enjoyed Total War: Warhammer but could never stomach a second campaign because you didn’t have another 30+ hours, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars provides a similar experience in half the time.
With an excellent setting and atmosphere, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars gives you a satisfactory stage to live out your fantasies as a vampire lord.
Thanks to Kalypso for providing a review key for Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars.