My first day of E3 in 2019 was a day of real-time strategy games, which is weird because it is a genre that gives me anxiety every time I play one. As I sit here, reflecting on my experiences at the show, the one takeaway I have right now is the pull to give this genre another chance. I’ve seen some really interesting things being done with these kinds of games that make me think a total novice like me can get some enjoyment out of them. One of the games I saw that changed my opinion was Immortal Realms: Vampire War. Developed by Palindrome Interactive, Immortal Realms is a strategy game that makes use of different game systems in a way I couldn’t help but be fascinated by.
The game takes place in a world where vampires reign supreme, subjugating lesser creatures and bending humans to their will, there are hints that growing unrest threatens to ignite a war that could spell ruin for our fang-toothed anti-heroes. The full game promises a structure similar to that of Warcraft III’s campaign where the overall story is presented from the point of view of the three major factions. The first is the Dracul led by our man Vlad and his eternal beloved and are representative of the “classic” noble vampires pop culture clung itself to all these years. The second faction is the Nosferatu, ancient and gargoyle-like creatures which are, at the risk of editorializing, what vampires should be: grotesque monsters! The third and final faction is the Moroia, who is more of a mystical, high born breed of bloodsucker.
How these factions interact with each other was largely left unknown because my demo focused on playing an early mission for the Dracul. What makes this game stand out for me is the unique gameplay systems involved. The level we played through involved quashing a rebellion initiated by humans looking to take the fight to their undead masters. Presented with an overhead view of the level’s map, we were working in Kingdom Mode which allows me to lead my armies around to capture territory at the click of a button. Doing so works in service to expanding the Dracul’s reach, earn experience to level up your general, unlock and buy abilities, and recruit new units. If that territory includes a village, taking it opens up the option to feed on its inhabitants and heal your allies. We continued taking over the countryside until our vampire army made contact with human rebels. Before initiating combat, you can compare your army against that of the enemy’s to determine how easy or difficult the fight will be. When satisfied with the numbers game, combat turns into a more traditional turn-based affair as you and the enemy take turn moving units around a smaller, more contained map until one side is dead. This is where things get really interesting.
Supplementing the turn-based nature of combat is a card system that lets you use special abilities to turn the tide in your favor. These cards were designed in a way that reminded me of Hearthstone because a) each card has a cost that draws from a resource pool, and b) some cards are equipped with bolded text (aka keywords) that create interesting effects when they are deployed. Cards also work in Kingdom Mode, which can really help the expansion portion of the game. I really liked the idea of this card system because it brings in a layer of nuance that keeps the mostly straightforward combat system interesting and engaging. You still have to be strategic when moving and attacking with your units but the added card system gives everything a really unique flavor.
As far as card-based RTS games are concerned, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars looked like a really cool twist on the classic genre. Look for it on Steam in September 2019.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.