- Available for PC and mobile
- Deep browser mechanics
- Excellent diplomacy
- Alliances can share resources
- Monotonous gameplay
- Slow progression and recuperation
Imperia Online is a browser based city building MMO developed and published by Imperia Online LTD. It’s a free browser game, accessible worldwide.
With the success of Clash of Clans, more and more city building games finding themselves published. It’s easy to mistake Imperia Online as one of those clones but don’t be fooled; Imperia Online has been around since 2005. This review will focus on Imperia Online and what makes it different from the rest.
Imperia Online is a city management game with a medieval theme. The game puts you in charge of a fledgling town, with the goal of turning it into a powerhouse. To do that you will need to construct buildings, research new technologies, train troops, and siege/pillage your enemies. Naturally, doing any of those things requires resources.
There are four primary resources in the game: wood, ore, stone and gold. Like most games in this genre, these resources are automatically produced and can be gathered until you hit your resource cap. You can increase it by building an additional structure associated with a particular resource, like a mine for ore. Additionally, you can also get resources as rewards from quests and by plundering your enemy.
Another important resource mechanic in Imperia Online is population and happiness. Population determines the amount of gold you can gather via taxes, among other things. You can increase your population by building housing. Happiness is another important metric as a happy population gives you various production bonuses. Neglect your population’s happiness and they will stop working, not pay taxes and move away to other cities. To increase happiness, you have to build statues.
Research is also an important part of the game. It gives various bonuses to different aspect of Imperia Online. Research in this game is divided into different fields with each field focusing on one area. For example, the Military Technologies field focuses on giving your units various army bonuses (not too surprising there). Researching a technology requires a certain amount of wood, ore, stone or gold.
By building a barracks, you can train troops. The game has different troop types, and they’re specialized as a counter against one another. As an example, Spearman will win against cavalry but will lose against archers. Ballistae are excellent at taking out siege engines.
Combat in this game is completely automatic. You just send the troops and watch the results. There are three types of battles in this game: field, siege, and plunder. When you attack an enemy, you first enter a field battle. Win that, and you will move on to the next phase: the siege battle. After you win the siege battle, you can then plunder the enemy city for loot and murder the inhabitants.
But plundering is not without cost; your troops do not enjoy killing harmless citizens and as a result, their morale will plummet. This is a bad thing since battles in this game are not necessarily to the death, and armies with low morale will rout during battle once they take sufficient damage.
As you can probably tell, Imperia Online is mostly multiplayer war game. You attack other players’ cities and defend against other players’ attacks. You can also join alliances and sign various treaties with other players. Joining an alliance is pretty much a necessity. Members of an alliance can share gold and armies with each other.
The game resets once in a while. Just before a reset, the game will have a “Lord of the Realms” event where various Alliance fights each other for the title of Lord of the Realms. In this event, alliances vie for control over nine castles which you must be conquered to win. As this is the final event, it is extremely cutthroat, with everyone throwing all their armies and resources at the castles.
The game supports a wide variety of systems. You can play it on iPhone and Android handsets, unlike most other flash based browser games. It’s also compatible with a large variety of browsers; even old IE versions can play this game.
Gameplay-wise this game is pretty deep. You can replay the battle and watch your archers standing in line at the back, raining arrows down, with your cavalry heading the charge. Battles are simulated with formations, morale, and troop types affecting the result. As a result, spamming one troop type is not a viable strategy in Imperia Online. You will need an actually balanced army that tries to take account of anything.
Alliances in this game are also pretty great. They are alliances more than just in name since allies can help each other by sending troops and gold. There are a whole slew of diplomacy options in the game, from actual war to non-aggression pact and others. Granted, it’s not as in-depth as say Crusader Kings 2, but it’s still expansive for a browser MMO. It’s a far cry from other reviewed city building games where guilds are just the bare minimum, and there’s no diplomacy possible.
Unfortunately, the game is extremely monotonous. You just build the same set of buildings, train the same set of troops, do the same set of quests, and research the same set of technologies all throughout the game. There’s nothing in the game that breaks the pace. There’s no tech tree to follow; you’re just given a list of generic technologies that you research over and over for minor bonus.
It also doesn’t help that progression in this game is really slow. Everything in this game takes a lot of time. As an example, housing does not increase your population. It merely increases your population cap. Your population grows slowly over the course of a few days based on happiness. Building an army takes weeks, not hours like in other games.
If you can’t wait, not to worry! The game sells premium items that remove the wait time. Usually this by itself does not make the game pay-to-win, but Imperia Online has insanely long training/building time.
For example, let’s say you’ve built a large city with abundant troops, but you lost a defending battle. On other games, this is a no biggie; you can quickly train new units in an hour and though your resources are plundered your structures are fine.
Here in Imperia Online, you are screwed. The enemy has raided your city, making your population plummet. So not only are your resources gone, but you will also gather fewer taxes until your population recovers to pre-attack levels. This can take days. But that’s not all. Your troops are gone, which means you can’t defend against subsequent attacks. So you’ll just train troops, right? Wrong. Like I said before training a viable army takes weeks. As a result, you are defenseless for days after an attack unless you buy real money items.
Imperia Online is a long running city strategy MMO that supports a wide variety of system, and with deep gameplay and diplomacy mechanics. Unfortunately, the game also suffers from tedious, repetitive gameplay with an unnecessarily slow progression that’s designed to bait you into the cash shop.
In the end, this game isn’t really playable as a free player, unless you enjoy being a punching bag. As such, it’s tough to recommend.