Personally, the word “steampunk” is enough to take my breath away and solidify my interest in any game, but that’s not even all this title has to offer! Forget about California sliding into the ocean, they’ve gone and submerged New York! Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is a top-down isometric RPG that will be released on October 4 of this year by Coin Operated Games, and is intended as a departure from traditional games by NOT taking us to new lands or worlds, fantasy or future, but by re-creating, instead, a place in our world, but altered.
The game takes place in a version of New York City in the year 1911 that implements an advanced stage of the modern dilemma of global warming, which has caused the city to be flooded by rising sea levels. This original story of New Victorian New York is penned by the Emmy nominated cartoonist Paul Noth paints a complex and surprisingly gritty portrait that is both engaging and thought provoking which is mirrored masterfully in the art and visual design of this unique game.
In this Neo Victorian, watered-down version of New York (pun intended), complete with dark alleys and shady elements, there is an overabundance of H2O… Just not drinkable H2O (and I would imagine salt water in steam engines isn’t particularly beneficial, either). The only potable water to be had must be pumped in from the mainland through pipes. No problem, we’ll just employ Neo Victorian, steam powered pumps and voila, problem solved. Except not. For some reason, the water stops coming and it is up to your chosen hero and a token variety of companions to figure out why and save the city.
As if it could be that simple. The few people that have survived the disastrous flooding have clustered together into city-states that create a splintered and complex social environment that only adds to the variety of encounters and the tactics for solving them. With the dwindling supplies of drinkable water, things start to get intense within and amongst each of the differing city-states causing even greater rivalries and setting off internal turmoils that had previously simmered below the surface.
Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates utilizes options for precision character combat manipulation that allows you to pause at any point during the action and issue directions to your party, at which point the player reinitiates the real time action and watches the chaos unfold (hopefully the way they planned). There are various professions to progress through, with different strengths, weaknesses, and combat styles.
Like any good RPG, Empyre offers multiple options for overcoming obstacles including conversational finesse and combat superiority with a diverse weapon selection from fist weapons to steam powered cannons. The game also boasts a new bartering system in which specific desired items are the currency, rather than boring, old, coin currency (Ducats).
If that’s not enough and a Neo Victorian New York (with a splash of Venice) seems too limited for you, fear not! COG intends to create more adventures and options in later installments. So go and dust of your Neo Victorian regalia and get ready to paddle to New York (steam boat and airship tickets are limited).