EMPYRE: Dukes of the Far Frontier it’s a Isometric RPG with a classic look that represents a double return: on the one hand it represents the second work of Coin Operated Gamessoftware house based in the US state of Delaware which has already given birth to the previous one EMPYRE: Lords of the Sea Gates in 2017, which shares the same universe as this title; from another the return to the publication of the videogame publisher Work Shift Play inc.presumably countryman (information on it is scarce).
It is a title that can be included in the revival of isometry that we are experiencing, this time declined in its most traditional genre: the Role playing gamewith particular attention to the narrative componentwhile gameplay and navigation seem to have been treated too lightly.
EMPYRE: Dukes of the Far Frontier, the desert is our only hope
The setting of EMPYRE: Dukes of the Far Frontier is a totally uchronic 1911 where the plants developed an implacable aggression towards mankind after a series of terrible floods. As the world is engulfed in water and tendrils, humanity turns to the only environment that can save them from the plant threat: the desert.
The hostile oceans of sand in which our species is forced to live are soon tamed, and the culmination of this progress is the construction of the mammoth city of Blissruled by a mysterious Archduke who lives on top of the tallest tower in the city. Within it men and women live in total idlenesswith their needs hurried by Mechanicsa new ream of robots capable of carrying out any task but without their own will, which constitutes a sort of automated slave class.
Below Bliss there is the rest of humanity, organized in small settlements in the middle of the desert and from Hopetown, a sort of shanty town that surrounds the city. It is there that the vicissitudes of Joeour protagonist, who he soon comes into contact with the most infamous fringe of the population.
A mystery closely linked to the Mechanics casts a shadow over the city of Blissand it will be the task of Joe himself investigating it, while theArchduke begins to have plans for him.
Nobody is safe, not even in the middle of the desert
EMPYRE: Dukes of the Far Frontier shares the entirety of the gameplay with its predecessorwith only the setting changed (EMPYRE: Lords of the Sea Gates he found his setting in one New York devastated by floods already mentioned).
So they come back the exploration and combat typical of the isometric RPGwith the possibility, in moments of combat, of plan actions by pausing the game. However, this mechanics is penalized by the difficult organization of the interface. It also has a rather traditional aspect, however not very attractive, at times dull and grainy. To crown this apologia for inconvenience there are input lag that easily impatient gamers.
There character sheeta distinctive element of each RPG properly speaking, it also contains the stat that could be found in any similar product. There are also the perk, they can be added and updated at almost every level advancement but limited to the improvement of some statthus losing their original meaning of ‘benefits‘.
The maps they are rather vast and numerousas well as rather heterogeneous aesthetically. However, they suffer from the same little ease that characterizes the interfaces and navigation of the game.
The plot is saved, but there is some inspiration too
On balance, it is clear that if there is a strong point in EMPYRE: Dukes of the Far Frontierit can definitely be found in the lore and in plotimpregnated with you find retrofuturistici worthy of the genre.
There are however disturbing echoes regarding these elements: a city in the middle of the desert characterized by the presence of a high tower, an unscrupulous autarchy and a new generation of robots that are different and superior to all other. Anyone who reads these words without knowing that they refer to the title we are dealing with today could actually remember an older retro-futuristic masterpiece, namely Fallout: New Vegas (2010). Conversely, even the previous one may have some too many references to the saga of BioShock.
Nobody feels like pointing the accusing finger of plagiarism at Coin Operated Games. What is certain is that the inspiration from other uchronic or retro-futuristic works is so much and extremely evident.
The aesthetic, although inspired, is enormously penalized by the lack of attention to the technical side of the game: in addition to the aforementioned input lag, the graphics remained in the 2000swith the raging, at times, of frame rate dropsunacceptable for such a title.
Not even sound and column are able to satisfy, hitting the bottom during the combat sessions, accompanied by what seems a meaningless jumble of random sounds with artistic pretensions. Dubbingfor a change, not receivedexcept in the introductory cutscenewhich tells the catastrophe that pushed humanity to migrate to the desert through drawings made precisely with sand (a very pleasing artistic gimmick to the eye).