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A player first creates a character from stock medieval fantasy archetypes and starts in the town, shown from aerial perspective and rendered in 3D. Here equipment can be purchased, training can be undertaken and so on, although there are no NPCs to interact with.
Dungeons are tile-based and exploration is shown in first-person perspective in similar fashion to the earlier The Bard's Tale. Similarly enemies are not seen in this view but a picture of them is presented when encountered. Other players are represented on the map with arrows, but again are not shown in the main viewpoint.
If the player's hit points are exhausted, they appear back in the town without penalty.
Emperiana was reviewed by IGN in 1998. The reviewer was not able to recommend the game, given that the square-based dungeons and lack of representation of enemies and other players did not compare favourably with similar pay-to-play games such as Ultima Online.