Imperator: Rome

Game review by
Neilie Johnson, Common Sense Media
Imperator: Rome Game Poster Image
Complex strategy game tests your patience, determination.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players choose to rule any nation, but their actions have no moral consequence. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Characters can be noble or corrupt, but there's no way of fully knowing their motivations.

Ease of Play

This is a very challenging strategy game that requires a lot of trial and error to learn and succeed. Only the most determined gamers need apply. 


Warfare is shown as stiffly animating soldiers on a top-down map. There are mentions of slavery and human sacrifice in some portions of the game. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There's occasional mention of drug and alcohol use during the game.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Imperator: Rome is a downloadable grand strategy game that can be played single player against the AI or online against human opponents. Currently, the game has no player chat either in-game or in the multiplayer lobby. It contains combat among human soldiers, but it happens in an abstract way on an overhead map without any blood or gore being shown. Over the course of the game, character story pop-ups contain references to mental illness, drug use, and drunkenness and gameplay includes the option to make human sacrifices and enslave other people, although there are not visuals associated to these instances.

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What's it about?

IMPERATOR: ROME is a historic grand strategy game (a genre where players control an entire nation's military and resources) that lets players rewrite history, building their own version of the Roman Empire. The game starts during the period just after the death of Alexander the Great, when his numerous successors were vying for control. Players can choose from a range of playable European, African, and Asian nation-states as well as the fledgling Roman Empire and decide how to build their nation's power. Trade barons can employ a new trade function that grants them financial and diplomatic power as well as bonuses for surplus resources, while war hawks can expand their borders by assigning their armies specific battle tactics and military traditions. Politics become personal with the new character management system that lets players manipulate public opinion by courting or scorning powerful families. The game can be played solo against an AI opponent, or online against real human players. But however it's played, only true masters of resource management – whether land, capital, technology, business, or men – will rule their own empires.

Is it any good?

Strategy games take time to learn and even more time to get good at, and while it's a decent game, this historically based title will bury players in an avalanche of info that only dedicated fans will love. Imperator: Rome tosses players face-first into a map with ten different modes, a hundred menus with hundreds of sub-menus, and what feels like a million lines of text - and expects them to figure it out. While the game does contain a rudimentary tutorial, it's really just a list of objectives with minimal instruction regarding how to achieve them. Granted, many players hate tutorials or ignore them completely; but starting a grand strategy game without any pointers is like taking a test you forgot to study for – discouraging and stressful. Learning to play Imperator: Rome requires serious focus, a boatload of patience, and hours of online research. If you can muster this level of determination though, you'll eventually find the fun.  

Over time, things start to come together. You start to understand how different systems interact, how individual policy decisions affect your societies, how trade strengthens or weakens your nation, and how careless military actions can end in disaster. Cultural and religious traditions matter here, and to be a good ruler, you can't just subjugate everyone you meet. Diplomacy is just as important as warfare, (although warfare's admittedly more effective) both internationally and within the chambers of your own government. Of course, diplomacy, commerce, and army building could be easier if menus were more streamlined. Menus are packed to bursting with information, much of which you don't really need, which can make your eyes start to blur. Staring at maps and menus wouldn't be so bad if they were at least attractive, but the look of the game is bland and rather dated. Imperator: Rome doesn't feel meant for mainstream gamers; rather it's for military buffs, lovers of history, and players with the patience to study for a game as they would for a test. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about games that teach you about history. Why is history an important thing to learn? Is there something that these games can show you that make you more interested in history?

  • When you start a new game, do you like being taught how to play or figuring things out on your own? What are the advantages and disadvantages to each?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: $39.99
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: Paradox Interactive
  • Release date: April 25, 2019
  • Genre: Strategy
  • Topics: History
  • ESRB rating: NR for No Descriptions
  • Last updated: May 29, 2019

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