Age of Decadence has finally made it out of Early Access and is fully released. I tried the demo a while back, and was impressed enough to keep the game on my radar, and now with full release, I can easily say its one of the most unique, most entertaining RPGs to come out in years.
AoD is clearly a labor of love, and is also a game that a lot of gamers won’t ‘get’. It has so little in common with traditional RPGs deep down, while on the surface it looks exactly like a traditional RPG, which itself is such an impressive feat but also can get you started down the wrong path if you think and play it as such. For example, character creation looks very standard; pick a ‘class’, distribute some stat points and skill points, do a little customization, and you are done. What you don’t see is that those stat points make a HUGE difference in how the game goes, and those initial skill points can certainly have an impact early on. Oh and that ‘class’ you picked? Yea that basically determines almost the entire game.
I would say the game is split into two playstyle; combat and non-combat. You can go hybrid, but that’s almost the ‘hard mode’ of the game. Combat is just how it sounds, instead of solving quests and problems with your words, you do it with your sword. Combat in AoD is deceptively deep, incredibly hard (I’ve reloaded the same battle a dozen or more times to finally beat it), and very rewarding when it finally clicks for you. The battles also offer some of the best variety and ‘feel’ I’ve seen in a while, from ‘simple’ 1v1 fights to large, 10v20ish style affairs. There are a lot of different weapons, each with different benefits and abilities, as well as different armors with plus/minus stuff going. Sword/shield with the heaviest armor and a big shield is awesome in a large fight, but in a 1v4 situation you will simply be too slow to do enough and die slowly but painfully. Knowing what to bring into a fight is almost as important as how to actually execute the battle.
Non-combat means you avoid combat at all costs (since you can’t really kill anyone), and instead use your wits, charm, and deception to get ahead. What’s interesting about this path, aside from the great writing all throughout the game, is you really have to embrace the character you are playing to make it work. If you start as a merchant, you won’t last long if you don’t act like a greedy merchant. If you go the thieves guild path, being a ‘good’ thief will likely get you killed, quickly.
Those stat points and skills also really impact how things play out. A smart thief will solve problems differently than one who is amazing at stealth and has impressive dexterity. A charming merchant will have different options from someone who is an expert in impersonating others. A lot of these options and depth are hidden, and as the game isn’t very long (10-20hrs non-combat, 25ish combat, so I’ve read), it highly encourages you to have a go of it again with a different character/path. I’ve read there are 13 endings, including some that are much harder to achieve than others, and no one character will see even half the ‘content’ of the game.
As I said at the beginning, AoD is an incredible game if you are looking for something that really challenges you, and pushes you outside the familiar RPG realm. The demo on Steam is the first big town, and is more than enough to give you a great feel for the game. Give it a try, stick with it past the initial confusion/difficulty, and you will be rewarded with a very unique, very entertaining experience.