Posted: January 19
Early Access Review
Do you have a death wish? If so, you've come to the right game!
I've played a fair amount of the Age of Decadence (AoD), having been one of the first beta-testers for the title (most of my playtime are with non-STEAM builds). And I've died. Oh how I've died.
To make things plain, AoD is not a game you'd play when you want to go on a conventional videogame "powertrip". It's not a game you'd play when you want to play a hero. It's not a game you'd play when you want to play an ubermensch. In this game, your character is but one choice from death at pretty much all times.
AoD is a RPG with turnbased combat. It features a very deep and quite broad RPG system. Choices & consequences is the name of the game here, playthroughs vary *wildly* from one another. With the pre-requisite that you'll get your hands dirty, this game features very different ways to go through the game. On one hand, you can choose to play something like a Mercenary, killing your way through the game. Very, very hard (choosing the combat path in this game is *the* difficult choice interestingly enough) but very doable. Or, you can play a slimy Merchant, bribing and persuading your way through the game without ever entering combat.
This heavy emphasis on choice is why I adore AoD. There is a *true* sense of your character forging your way through the world. Even if you happen to fail a certain skill check and screw a situation for your employer when working for one of the guilds, chances are the game will still allow you to continue though the guild and gameworld will likely remember what you've done.
The turnbased combat may feel slightly clunky at first due to how it looks and "feels". But here is a combat system that actually has some immense depth to it, *if* you have the patience to go through the trial-by-fire where you'll die over and over. Encounters are crafted carefully and to provide immense challenge. Not to mention that your character is just another piece of the game's board. You're not special, you're not more powerful than anyone else. You're just another dude who happens to excel at a few things (depending on your skill choices) and so is everyone else. In another game, you'd scoff at the group of thugs threatening you in the slums. In AoD? You'd best be damn well prepared if you're gonna take on *any* group of people.
My main critique of the gameplay is that, since so much of the game is driven by your characters' skill choices, you can quite easily get into a situation where you're just just shy of one measly point of Persuasion to get through that particular problem, but... you may have no way to get that point. And the other options can likely lead you into death (especially if you're not prepared for combat). It feels rather "strict". And while I actually like that in many ways, I do hope and think there will be a balancing pass on the game before it's final release. Hopefully "loosening up" some of the requirements without making the game casual or easy.
The game relies heavily on its writing with most of its non-combat gameplay missions taking place in very elaborate "text-adventures". If you don't like to read, this is not the game for you.
The game's writing is very good and quite harsh. There are no goody-goody characters here, and it's rough world. Characters will lie to you and screw you over. But the good news is, you can lie to others and screw them over as well!
The game's length will vary a *lot* depending on how you play. Combat is the most time-consuming tasks. Battles can take a fair amount of time. If you choose to go a route where you are diplomatic and avoid combat, the game-length will also be shorter.
That said, one of the main *points* behind AoD is the replayability. If you don't want to replay the game, using different builds and seeing different solutions, then it's not a game for you.
The game is currently in early access and has a few months left of development. The game is made up of 3 big city locations (with various smaller locations scattered around) and the final big city is about to be released in a rough, beta form to the public. There is still plenty of things to do and experience in the game but it is not currently "complete" so to speak.
If you want to be challenged by a RPG, and if you like old-school design and feel, then AoD might just be worth it for you. For me, it has filled a niche that no other game has done yet (even right now with Kickstarter projects and indie-games being as prominent as they are), it is truly a special game that I've grown to love, despite the many kicks in the balls it has given me.
I'd highly recommend it for people looking for a more hardcore RPG experience. But to be on the safe side, you can give the demo a try as well!