Checks Out The Age of Decadence

So: The Age of Decadence! This highly anticipated indie wRPG has been in development for approximately one zillion (ten) years. With release finally looming, Vince Weller of Iron Tower Studio was good enough to provide me with a beta copy of The Age of Decadence to check out, and so I went ahead and made a video out of it for you to see. The results:

So, what did I think? On first impression, the Age of Decadence is very much my speed: a deep, non-linear wRPG with lots of well-written dialogue trees and choices that impact your play experience down the road. Your choice of character background determines how you start off the game, and has real effects on how other characters perceive you. AoD also features a fairly deep action point-based, turn-based combat system (one that I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to show off during the video, but which you can try for yourself in the game’s freely available combat demo).

One thing I cannot stress enough is just how text-heavy The Age of Decadence is. Not only is there loads of character dialogue, there is also a surfeit of descriptive prose. You will frequently find yourself in little pocket scenarios where the scene and the behaviors of other characters are set forth in text–scenarios which you are restricted to navigating via dialogue choices (and the concomitant skill checks that accompany them). In these moments, The Age of Decadence feels more like a choose-your-own-adventure hybrid more than it does a pure wRPG.

I can very easily see this bothering some people, though I myself am more than fine with it. The world of AoD is delightfully seedy and full of intrigue, and its characters are convincingly rendered. There’s a real payoff to carefully reading through everything, and so I find myself genuinely enjoying trawling through all those wordy passages. That said, if you’re the sort of person who just reflexively mashes the Escape key during character dialogue so you can get back to “the good parts,” you’re probably going to want to keep your distance; to a large extent, the text passages in The Age of Decadence are the good parts.

There are loads of different skills that come into play when navigating the game’s dialogue; and thankfully, Iron Tower Studio adopted the very approach that I recommended here and divorced your character’s combat skills from non-combat skills. Consequently, you don’t have to be useless in combat to get the tools needed to engage with the game’s dialogue-based challenges (though with that said, you do incur some penalties by creating characters with non-combat backgrounds).

With the caveat above about this game not being for people who hate reading, my early play experience with the Age of Decadence was very positive; assuming the mid- and late-game hold up as well as the start, I’d endorse this game heartily.

The AoD public beta is currently available for $24.99 on Steam, on GamersGate, and direct from the developers. (There is also a public beta demo for you to try out if you want to take a crack at it yourself prior to shelling out.) The Age of Decadence is planned for full release sometime in late winter/early spring 2015.

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  • Phoon says:

    This looks pretty impressive. It’s going on my to play list.

  • BarryB says:

    Well, finally…! I was beginning to think they were going to pull a Cleve on us. And too much text just isn’t possible, if it works in context. There are many games where it does; PS:T comes to mind. I’m looking forward to this.


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