Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates opens up on 4 Oct

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates

Neo-Victorian isometric RPG, Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates [official site], now has a release date for those interested to lord it up over the sea gates. It’s October 4. I am already a lord of the sea gate but by that I mean that I own a Seagate external hard drive and make it do my bidding rather than having any special status in an alternative American timeline where New York is flooding and I need to lead a bunch of companions through a story.

“Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is a top-down isometric RPG that takes place in a Neo-Victorian New York circa 1911, in which the entire city is flooded by rising oceans and the citizens must learn to live in a new reality where there is water everywhere, but none of it possible to drink.”

I mean, everyone’s always focusing in on the “Water, water, every where/Nor any a drop to drink” bit of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. You don’t see many people picking out the other theme which is a long-winded stranger banging on about their terrible gap year while you have somewhere to be.

Anyway, looking at the art on the official website I find myself thinking of Bioshock Infinite’s Columbia. Thaty’s not surprising as the two are both taking place in alternate timeline versions of the 1910s and thus are both using particular fashions, architecture and so on to create the sense of that specific moment in time as well as using them to as touchstones while creating the anachronistic or imagined elements so the latter look natural in the world.

This is the concept art they’re using as the main page image here so you can see the shared set of period influences and what I mean:

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates

An interesting point here is that the story was written by writer and comic artist Paul Noth who is a cartoonist on staff at The New Yorker. I’m wondering whether his background in information-sharing via cartoons (which is a really interesting discipline) will manifest in his game story writing in any interesting ways.

Here’s a touch more information:

“Although set in a fictional, alternate history, the game pays homage to historic accounts by adding authentic items such as patent medicines including poisons or tonics made from dangerous ingredients. Many of the games’ objectives and side quests will tie directly into the experiences that someone in the 19th century would have. The game’s authenticity reflects scenes from New York circa 1900, while tying the storyline to current day themes such as global warming and the rising of the oceans.”

But yes, October 4.


  1. Erithtotl says:

    Great concept, worst trailer music ever. Seriously, way to destroy you fascinating alternate 1910s setting with elevator-funk??? Way to yank your viewers violently out of the vibe.

    • BewareTheJabberwock says:

      My thoughts exactly. Immersive iso-RPG set in 1910’s NYC alternate timeline — with music by P-Funk. Ugh.* Up to the soundtrack it sounded interesting, so I’ll check in after release and see if they completely revamped the soundtrack.

      *Nothing against P-Funk, it just does NOT fit here. Like, at all.

  2. teije says:

    Spot on about the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Just get to the point, ye old sea dog!

  3. Erayos says:

    The music is weird, it’s far too “modern” for this one in my opinion.

    Other than that, neo-victorian alternate-history set in the beginning of the 20th century with this much steam, we call that steampunk right? I feel like they’re trying to distance themselves from the genre (but just in name, all of the tropes are here) and I don’t really understand that.

    • Unsheep says:

      In contrast to the vast majority of Steampunk games, this one actually takes place on Earth, and at the trailing end of the Victorian era.

      Most Steampunk games have simply borrowed the art-style from this period, and have absolutely no connection to “true” Earth and this part of human history. They have just adopted a fashion style.

      Steampunk RPGs are highly rare compared to Fantasy RPGs, so even if Empyre follows Steampunk clichés rather strictly, it’s still a unique addition to the RPG gaming genre in my opinion.

  4. klops says:

    “Dispatch anyone getting your way” sort of turned me off. And the music. What were they thinking with that?! Still, looking forward for hearing/seeing/smelling more about Empyre.

  5. Unsheep says:

    Looks great, just my type of RPG, … the isometric kind.

    No word on whether it will be available on GOG though, the ideal place for this kind of game in my opinion, since the mainstream masses seem bored with the isometric stuff again.

  6. platypusfool says:

    The clips showing the UI make it look like it was made with the Wasteland 2 editor. Difficult to know if it’ll be any good but the trailer doesn’t get my hopes up.

  7. racccoon says:

    Nice looking game, great ideas, looking forward to this one. :)