Not to put too fine a point on it, but: there is not enough Dungeon Keeper in the world. Impire looks like a decent-enough clone of Dungeon Keeper, but it is sufficiently unique in most respects to be its own game. This is both good, and bad.
The good side of things is how Impire handles dungeon management. By zooming out or pressing a hotkey, you’re given a flat top-down view of your dungeon. Here, you can queue up units, build rooms, order upgrades and place traps. Units, like minotaurs, vampires, imps, warlocks and such, can be put into squads of six. Squads in turn can be moved around as a single unit, and coordinate their attacks. A well-formed squad of a tank, some ranged casters, a healer, and a general damage-dealer, are highly effective at handling almost any situation. Ladders may randomly appear in your dungeon, bringing adventurers that’ll try to destroy things. You can build things like a Tavern that lure adventurers in and gets them drunk, making them weaker, but it’s not really necessary.
You are limited in exactly what types of units and rooms you can build initially, and here is where things get idiosyncratic. As you complete set objectives removed from the main mission objectives, you earn DEM points which can be placed into a Diablo-esq skill tree, which resets each mission. If you want minotaurs for this mission, you may have to sacrifice gaining some spells, or a type of room, etc. It gives the genre a kind of build-order strategy, which isn’t bad, but it can rub you the wrong way. Squads can be sent off on raiding missions using an overworld map, which removes the squad from your dungeon for a time. If they succeed at the raid, you gain much-needed resources, as a dungeon is not entirely self-sufficient. There is no ore to mine, like in Dungeon Keeper.
The game can be played cooperatively over network or Internet, up to four players, or competitively if that’s your thing. The cooperative mode works well enough, each player gets their own dungeon, and each dungeon has it’s own entrance into a kind of common battle area where mission objectives are usually located. The plot is amusing, in a 90s video game kind of way, and while it innovates where it counts, Impire fails in the areas it needs most.
For everything Impire does right, with its own spin on the dungeon management genre, it gets equal amounts wrong. This is the type of game that’s best bought while on sale, and only if you really want this kind of thing.
Bonus: Is this Majesty’s Ardania?
You are correct, sire! Impire takes place in the fictional fantasy realm of Ardania of the Majesty series. Much of the design, how things look and act, are direct nods to their counterparts in Majesty. The plot even involves you playing as a subservient demon in the employ of the son of a certain Scottish-sounding Advisor...