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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

Xbox One X
Nintendo Switch
PlayStation 4

 Written by Chris Woodside  on September 13, 2017

Previews: A once thriving metropolis is on the brink of a crisis that could cause a revolt among its citizens.


Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is an old school, isometric RPG with one of the more interesting and compelling stories in recent memory for this genre. Set in New York in 1911, the entire city is flooded, but none of the water is actually potable. It seems as though this is a genre that so extensively caters to the fantasy world setting, this provided an interesting and fresh take by giving us a real world setting, but in an alternate reality.

The fact that they chose to present us with a flooded New York, I believe, seemed to be a not so subtle political message of the modern issue of global warming and rising sea levels. A bold move for a brand new developer looking to make their first impressions on the industry. It’s this connection to an issue that seems to be in the media every day that made my first few hours with Empyre so engaging, because it felt like a world I was actually familiar with.


One of the mechanics that disappointed me the most with this game was the combat. It presents a significant challenge, one of that will take quite a while to master for newcomers to the genre with the combat manipulation where the player utilizes the spacebar to pause the action and select a series of moves that then will play out once the action is resumed. However, from the pre release version of this game I had the opportunity to play, once the combat was mastered to a certain degree, most battle felt repetitive, and the AI rarely adapted to my play style. I began to feel as though the major battles served more as an obstacle in my progress through the story, rather than meaty experiences I was looking forward to.

I was also disappointed with most of the environments in the game. With a game that is so heavily inspired by the steampunk style (an art style that immediately grabbed my interest to take a look at this game), I felt that most of the environments around the flooded version of New York were unpolished and uninspiring. This is something I hope will be fixed with the final release of the game at the beginning of October, as steampunk tends to be a difficult style to pull off (and I don’t remember in recent memory an isometric RPG that strived to achieve it). It helps that 1911 New York lends itself so naturally to the steampunk aesthetic.

I have long believed that these old school RPG’s have told some of the best stories in video games, and for this game to succeed, I think it will hinge on the ability of this story to grip players the way it gripped me. I am glad to see that Coin-Operated Games, the brand new developer behind this game, has taken the chance to throw their hat into the ring of this genre.

Ultimately, I am looking forward to seeing how the game improves over the next month or so and even in the time after release. The bones of a great game are there, but what I played felt as though it needed a lot more time in the oven. If the developers deliver on this promise come October, I expect we will see a lot more of Coin-Operated Games in the coming years.

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