Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a strategy game set in the 15th century where vampire overlords control the villages around them. Those who donate blood from villages get to live peacefully, where those who don’t – you get to battle. Every combat you go through and manage to win adds veterancy to your units that make them more difficult to kill as you continue throughout the chapters in the game.
As usual with vampire games, the currency is blood. You use villages to collect blood, and use the blood to keep your army going stronger, purchase new recruits and play cards, upgrade armour for your overlord. You discover new areas, buildings, and recruits by moving through your map, where each movement from a tile or action, uses action points. Generally in each turn you get 3 AP.
Combat is easily where the game shines, but it’s not for everyone. This game is strictly turn based. It is also surprisingly hard – if like me, you decide to skip the tutorial (don’t do this) you are going to have a hard time knowing what’s going on, and it’s a guessing game from there. If you are at a higher level than your enemies, you are gonna have an easier time, but it’s a decent amount of back and forth and it’s fun. If on the other hand, the enemy team is a much higher level – you most well restart the game now because they are going to wipe the floor with you no matter how well prepared you think you are.
The biggest issue with thinking you might win a combat scenario, and then failing – you do have to restart the chapter which means watching the introduction yet again, which thankfully you can skip but what started out as a beautiful narration and illustration to introduce you to the story becomes infuriating pretty quick. The same with hearing ‘We serve Dracul and for the Dracul’ it becomes tiresome in the start of Act 1 and you are only just beginning.
Despite the combat being where the game shines, there is such a huge learning curve to this game that I didn’t expect. No, it wasn’t because I skipped the tutorial and had no idea what I was doing (though I’m sure that didn’t help). It was because the controller is extremely touchy, you want your unit to move forward 3 spaces but they can move up to 4? Yeah they are probably moving to 4th space to the side – unless you are moving the analog stick slowly and waiting for the cursor to completely stop before pressing ‘x’ – your unit will end up anywhere. It took me a good solid hour to stop moving so rapidly around the screen – this might be easier or better when it comes to PC or Switch, but I had a rough time with the PS4. Considering, the one wrong movement can cause you to lose battle instantly, and there is no undo function – my sanity quickly dissolved.
It’s hard to enjoy a game where you are getting brutalised as soon as it starts, without having to restart the same section over and over again due to a small mistake. Although when you finally win combat it’s a pretty amazing feeling and you get well deserved experience, cards, and equipment as you continue on with your campaigns!
This brings us to the rest of the game. In your campaign menu. There are 3 clans within the campaign, there is Dracul, Nosfernus, and Moroia. Each campaign is broken into 4 acts, and each act can take between an hour and 3 to finish. Making Vampire Realms approximately 30 hours if you watch all cutscenes and take loading screens into account.
You have a sandbox mode, which lets you pick any clan you want out of the 3 above, lets you pick one out of the 4 available maps, and finally you pick your victory condition. This mode gives Vampire Realms more replayability as you can basically do what you want without worrying about the storyline, and allows you to work on your skills/techniques within the game despite the limited options.
Lastly, there is a skirmish mode. I thought maybe this was an online component but instead you pick a clan you want to play as where you can change the Lord, spells, items, units, and map and you pick which clan you want to verse. This is a battle of the lords, in particular this mode is very short and almost pointless – maybe if there was a multiplayer or online component to this mode it would be worthwhile and fun, otherwise I don’t know why it’s here?
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars isn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. Based on images and the description of the game I was imagining Diablo meets Age of Empires/World of Warcraft, but really I got a video game that would essentially be better as a board game. The graphics and sound are mediocre at best. Despite my love for all things vampires, board games, and video games – there isn’t one real aspect of Vampire Realms that makes me want to run back to it. Though maybe I should ‘get good’ and give it another go.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is out now and available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and PC.
Review written by Sandra Porter
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