Switch version tested
Review code provided
A real-time strategy title that pits vampire clans against one another is an interesting concept, but while that looks good on paper, is Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars any good? If this was a video review, perhaps that’s how this would start, but we’ll cut to the chase and say, yeah, it’s alright.
The presentation and mood of the game are pretty good indeed, and from the outset, I was somewhat excited to dive into this gothic world of terror and battle strategies. Playing on the Switch in handheld is fine, and while there aren’t walls of text, it plays better on a larger screen so you can see what’s going on. That said, it’s perfectly playable out of the dock, but my experience was predominantly on a large TV.
Tutorials aren’t exactly fun, and sometimes they can be a burden, but it’s worth playing them to get a grasp on the mechanics. The principle gameplay is similar to any war game such as Total War, for example, and it wouldn’t take any veteran long to get a feel for how to play the game. The curveball here though was the introduction of cards and to be clear and put this review in perspective, I’m not a fan. The Witcher 3 is a superb game, as was Red Dead Redemption 2, but the first show of cards and I’m often bored or at least want the option to skim past it. You can’t ignore the cards however as they play a crucial role in the game, but it’s an interesting device that works and once you get the hang of it, not as overcomplicated or gimmicky as it first appears.
Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is quite an in-depth game that is turn-based in its approach, where you manage your ranks, resources (blood) and conquer the plains. You’re equipped with a base and Lords who lead your vampire armies. These are essentially your hero units and give the commands through action points. Of course, you have so many at your disposal so when you move or perform an action, they deplete, you end your turn and then move on. As with all war games, you must conquer your surroundings and build an army. To do this, you need to enslave local villages, marching onto them, so you have a production line to create new units and fulfil your expansion desires.
There are three rival clans: the Dracul, Nosfernus and Moroia. Each has their own menacing appeal, but gameplay-wise, they have perks to make the job better depending on your playstyle. This can range from resource management (the blood in the game), necromancy where you can have skeletons fight for you and the mages, Moroia with their devastating spells. Be forewarned that spells obviously use mana, and in combat, regeneration can be pretty scarce, so this clan is probably better suited for the more advanced player. I opted for the Dracul for traditional reasons, but it’s a bit like the mercantile skill: money brings power. Blood money.
The vampire legend has evolved over the years to be more modern and all, but thankfully this is set in the 15th century, so a functional display on what you’d expect – like a Vlad the Impaler aesthetic, only your legion of doom are all vampires. This means you have the standard infantry and cavalry-like units, only vampires (that means they’re pasty and have pointy teeth), but there are also bat units that you can acquire by claiming caves. It’s quite imaginative, and while these units behave like any other strategy game, they work quite well.
As for combat, each class has its pros and cons, but the majority of them attack in a limited direction, played out on tiles. Your recruits are often pretty basic, though become notably stronger through repeat combat – a bit like Canon Fodder, only an improvement to the damage they deal or receive. They don’t level up as such – that’s for your Lords, and once they die, you have to ‘make’ new ones. In that scenario, the Lord is your saviour (not intentional) as they can respawn on death and level up, sporting a range of spells and armour they can equip that make them badass. They never really feel overpowered though, and Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a little challenging as the enemy units can be a bit relentless. Also, there’s that card system.
Cards aren’t used to make decisions, but they give you buffs for your Lord, increase productivity and upgrade gear – that sort of thing. It’s not overly complicated as it sounds, or appears, but a little too much going on that it feels like it was added to make the game have more value. Cards are awarded every four turns and after battles, and every four turns is represented as a calendar year. Yes, the game effectively advances through time at an alarming rate, but the vampires have that undead aura to them so you won’t see any differences in appearance or brief over exhaling every time they have to stand up due to bad knees.
Overall, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a good game and works fine on the Switch, albeit, the docked mode being more favourable. The UI isn’t particularly good and learning the mechanics can sometimes feel a little counterintuitive and somewhat bloated, but the atmosphere of the game and the overall concept and combat, once reasonably grasped, is good. This is a good title for fans of the genre who don’t particularly want to sit at a PC or have one. While it’s not light on content – the missions are quite big, it might not be for the more die-hard fans as controls, and the general schematics aren’t as good as its peers, but still worth your time, if you have the time, to learn how to manage your peasants and undead armies effectively.
Excellent presentation throughout with a decent concept and variety of units and skill progression with the hero units, a.k.a. Lords, Immortal Realms: Vampire Wars is a good title but let down a little in execution when it comes to the card system and occasionally clunky combat. Worth a look if you’re a fan of the genre – or even vampires, but not an instant classic.
TBG Score: 6/10
Platform: PC, PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo
Release Date: 28/08/2020
No. of Players: 1
Developer: Palindrome Interactive
Publisher: Kalypso Media
Download link: eShop