VEmpire: The Kings of Darkness – Review
Follow Genre: Card Game, Indie, Strategy, Turn Based
Developer: Wolfgang Lueger
Publisher: Vempire Entertainment
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

VEmpire: The Kings of Darkness – Review

Site Score
7.0
Good: -Easy to learn
Bad: -Lackluster story
User Score
5.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Vampires, the mythical bloodsucking creatures of the night, their coolness peaked with the heydays of Blade, a kick ass half human, half vampire who hunts other vampires. After that they declined and got dragged through the mud in broad daylight with the release of Twilight. Now VEmpire is attempting to bring sexy back in the form of a card game.

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Story

There are four vampire characters in this game, each with their own backstory: Sissi, Rudolph 1, Maria Theresa and Charles the 5th. They are important characters in history, each from a different century. These immortals all went into deep slumber when their reign was over. Now centuries later they all answered the call of blood and they picked up their plans for world domination, however the world is too small for four immortals. They must now battle it out among each other before taking on the human world.

The story is brought to you completely separate from the game through written text. When in the game menu you can decide to read up on the characters and the fairly compact story. However you can completely ignore it as it has zero effect on the game.

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Graphics

The graphics look great; the artists of the development team added quite a unique style to this card game. It has a gothic feeling with a touch of fantasy. The color schemes that they chose for this game fit really well with the background. The background or the game board as you will, which you can only see briefly as it is covered with the user interface looks like a cathedral in gothic style with the touch of greens and blues. It’s done very well. The board is non interactive as opposed to the clickable items in Hearthstone, which provide a distraction while waiting on the opponent to finish his/her turn. What however is worse is that while the opponents turn is active you cannot zoom in on your cards meaning you cannot start planning your next move until it’s your turn again.

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Sound

The sounds they composed for this game fits really well in the vampire setting. It has a rock beat and instrumental sound that keeps your blood pumping and there is some voice in the background which will remind you of an opera. There is also a sinister echo from time to time to remind you of the darkness, to create some tension and danger. The background music is not intrusive while you’re playing the card game.

Gameplay

VEmpire – The Kings of Darkness is a card game, these games are turn based by nature. During the development of the game the team faced several setbacks which increased the development time and some overhauls in the gameplay. The gameplay overhauls make the game more interactive between the players as the original setup was just a race to collect points, you might as well be playing Candy Crush on your own. The game feels much like a tabletop game, where both players take their turn while they strive to reach the win condition. In this case the only way to win is to reduce the empire points of the opponent to zero or below. Each player starts with the same amount depending on the settings you choose. There are two ways to reduce empire points, either by playing a curse card to reduce the opponent’s empire points but be aware this can be countered, or attacking with any vampire that is able to do so in your hand.

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Just like any card game both players have a deck of cards to start the game with. At the start of your turn you draw up to five cards from your deck. During your turn you can play those cards and any cards that aren’t permanently removed from your deck by playing them will go into your discard pile, once your deck is empty your discard pile will get shuffled and become your deck. This way you cycle through your cards. Some spells like curses are played once and go to the crypt, thus they won’t go back to your deck. Another way to permanently remove a card from your deck is when you send a vampire to your empire, you will gain the benefits he provides, like extra empire points or drawing cards from your deck or getting a card from the market for free. Not all vampires can go to the empire, some feature an attack value, when they are in your hand you can make them attack the empire point of the opponent after which they’ll go to your discard pile. Some sets of vampires provide a significant boost in empire points if you send both or all three of them to the empire.

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You can add cards to your deck by buying them from the market place which is located in the middle of the board in-between the players. The market contains seven stacks with only the top card of each stack visible. Two stacks are player specific as they contain vampires you recruit to fight for you meaning you can also see the top cards of your opponents stack but you cannot buy them. You can however banish a card from your opponent so he is unable to buy it. The three remaining stacks can be bought by both players and contain locations and spells, both offensive and defensive. Each card you want to buy has a cost and you must pay for it with the cards in your hand or any extra income you might have from locations. Once you buy a location it goes into your deck and once you draw it into your hand you can add it to your empire. This will provide you with extra income and the possibility to hold a card, meaning it will stay in your hand at the end of the turn when it normally would go to discard pile.

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The gameplay survived the aforementioned overhauls pretty well and feels polished yet not very exciting; the first turns are relatively boring when you are building up your deck and empire. Once you reach that stage where you mainly hold attack vampires you will be able to bring the game to a close in a few turns and the opponent will have little chance stopping you. This might lead to so called “cookie cutter builds”. People with good mathematical skills will draft the ideal scenario and design a flowchart for you to follow as to increase your win chances. The future will tell if more cards/heroes are added to mix things up. This does not take away that the game is enjoyable and playable.

Conclusion

VEmpire – The Kings of Darkness has seen some misfortune during the development and has received rather large overhauls towards the end of the development cycle. The changes have made the win condition more interactive instead of a steady race for empire points, which is for the better as there is more interaction between players now. The story is lackluster and does not add anything to the overall experience. All in all VEmpire is an enjoyable game and scores better than Twilight however it’s not Blade either.

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Rating: 5.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
VEmpire: The Kings of Darkness - Review, 5.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Aliana
Aliana


I am an Illustrator/Artist who studies Concept Art and Game Design in my free time. Designing things is in my blood and I am always very curious in making games. Motivated and dedicated to become better in every way I can. You only live once an I intend to fully enjoy it! As for gaming itself I do prefer to play the following games: FPS, RPG, Action Adventure Games, Fighting Games, Hack and Slash.

1 Comment

  1. wolf
    November 6, 2017, 7:03 am

    Thanks for the review!

    Please keep in mind that VEmpire is in Early-Access!
    If you follow the game on steam:
    http://store.steampowered.com/app/619230/VEmpire__The_Kings_of_Darkness/

    you can gladly figure out that story mode is about to come!

    cheers, wolf…

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