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Age of Decadence December Update
Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 23 December 2011, 14:46:27Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The Age of Decadence; Vince D. Weller
Another month, another update.
We tried to get the demo out in Dec, but we aren't there yet. I'd say we're 2-3 weeks of work away from the release, so most likely we'll release the demo in January.
What? This update sucks? I know, I know. One can read "yeah, we, uh, still working on that bitch" only so many times before going postal, which is why we asked the testers to share their updated impressions with you guys. Yeah, you're welcome!
Now, keep in mind that we asked them not to sugar coat anything and that they've been playing it for 4 months now, so the fact that they don't hate it with passion is already something. Yay!
Without further ado:* * *
The shining jewel of Age of Decadence I'd say. This is why you'll want to buy the game when it comes out on Thursday. The game supplies you with a few archetype characters at the start that work great, and have specific little vignettes attached to them that give you a sense of context to the world when you start and introduce you to the text-adventure style of the game.
Just working from these characters, you already get a sense that yeah... there is a lot of unique content in this game. Then you start to realize that, even if you go Merchant for example, there is no restriction on what skills you level. You can fuck around completely with all skills you have available. This may seem "stupid" (why would you want to play a Merchant who wants to kill shit?) but the dialogues and text adventures are overloaded with skill checks, some of which are kinda "out of the blue" and unexpected (in a good way). Crafting checks for example are not the most common, but they definitely happen at times and can unlock pretty cool shit. This feels nice in the sense that a crafting character is not just literally about making phat equip for yourself, but gives a good sense that your character is *skilled*. He knows about things related to crafting, and he can showcase it to the world.
The events that you partake in in AoD can be pretty unpredictable. This is both a good and a bad thing. There are times where the game presents you with pretty cool "oh shit" moments where you definitely want to weigh your options carefully. The bad side is that sometimes it can feel like the game is actively fucking you over. Most games can have a Diplomacy check for example, and if you pursue that dialogue line you can pretty much expect to be able to talk your way out. In AoD, you can see a Persuasion check and it will lead you onwards in the dialogue, and the dialogue might ask for a completely different check in the second stage of the convo which can leave you fucked. This isn't necessarily a bad thing (though there are times where the testers have complained about where some choices take you which can be a problem) but it will leave you raging at times.
All in all, one thing I tend to look for in RPGs is times where I think A) "Fuck yes, I'm glad I invested in this skill" and B) "Fuck, I wish I had invested in that skill". AoD supplies that a lot.
Combat in AoD is punishing, fun and sometimes rage-inducing. It feels really good when you beat some encounters, and oft-times (as people who have played the demo will know) you will notice big differences in how things play out when you switch strategies, invest in some items that will aid you in combat and so forth. It feels quite rewarding when you find a strategy that works really well for a fight.
There are pretty much no filler-encounters in AoD. This can be a double-edged sword but it's absolutely a large positive overall. You don't want to get too arrogant overall, even if you're a tough combat-character. If you make a dumb move and sometimes if you have a bit of bad luck, you can get screwed over really quickly.
The negative thing about this is that sometimes, when you're playing a diplomacy focused character, and if you somehow end up in a fight, a lot of times you're fucked. In most games, even your diplomacy character can make it out most encounters, but in AoD this is simply not always the case. It can take some time getting re-adjusted to this type of thinking, though like I said, it's absolutely a net-positive if you ask me.
This doesn't mean that you can't go through the game without combat though. The demo can be completed without combat, and I think the full game can as well. But you shouldn't mistake that for "just because I have high Persuasion, I can bypass every combat-encounter in the game". It requires more than that, and sometimes careful maneuvering by the player.
This is definitely being worked on, with the addition of the side-encounters, filling up the world with "commoner NPCs" and so forth so it's not finished yet.
But the graphics are good, as most people have seen from screenies and vids. The world looks really nice and some of the combat animations are very satisfying when you manage to critically kill some dude. The music is really nice but gets repetitive in Teron I feel. I hope this can be alleviated somehow by the addition of another track to the loop or something.
The sound is lacking at the moment. It feels very sparse as of now but there was an effort to fix this in the beta forums a while back and I hope that's still going or is planned.
The writing style is pretty different, especially when compared to other RPGs. If you've seen Vince's interviews or forum-posts, you can get a sense of the tone that way. Liberal use of sarcasm and quite "harsh" in many ways. There is the odd sentence where you can tell that English isn't the writer's mother tongue but most of the time it's really entertaining to read. The descriptive text for when you use skills successfully for example are very good at stroking the player's ego, describing the intricacies of sneaking or whatever skill you're employing. This is important since much of the game is about the text-adventures, and the writing makes it feel very satisfying at times.
All in all, I'd say that the game is definitely a good game and very satisfying if you're looking for hardcore roleplaying. But I will also say that one should read up on the game and get your expectations set straight. If you go in expecting a traditional RPG (even something like Fallout which AoD is quite inspired by), you will have to readjust your views a bit on how things work. It feels like a pretty unique game and it will definitely rub some people the wrong way.