The Downfall of the Occident: "Age of Decadence" Demo Out Now

I've been following the development of indie studio Iron Tower Studio's Age of Decadence for several years now, and it's no exaggeration to say that it's one of the most promising hardcore PC RPGs in a long time. The game is nothing short of a Fallout-inspired isometric/turn-based RPG set in a rich pseudo-historical setting (strongly resembling late Antiquity/early Middle Ages) built from the ground up to support player choice, with lots of non-combat skills which have a major impact on the overall gameplay experience. Combat has intentionally been made the most difficult approach to finishing quests (rather than the default option, as in most RPGs), since you don't start out as a particularly capable warrior at all and going up against a numerically superior enemy is supposed to be as bad an idea in AoD as it is in real life...

The first time I took part in spreading the word about this game was way back in 2008 (when it was also mentioned on RPS), and even then the project had been going on for quite some time already. There have been significant delays along the way but unlike a few other implausible ambitious RPG projects out there (Grimoire, anyone?), AoD is not some vaporware threatening to dissolve into mere rumors; this is very much a real thing and a tremendous amount of work has already been put into everything from the graphics engine to the skill system, dialogue and quest design. None of the developers work on this full time, though, and given the sheer scope and scale of the project progress is understandably slow.

A short (and in my view somewhat underwhelming) combat teaser was released a while back, but now all fans of serious RPGs have a great opportunity to finally check out a much larger and more refined chunk (called "public beta") of the game, experiment with different character builds and experience how the chosen character class affects both the story and the gameplay options. It's not a game for everyone, though, and during my brief time with the new demo so far I've had some amount of trouble figuring out where to go and what to do despite some reasonably clear quest introductions, a seemingly helpful journal and many ways to go about solving a particular problem. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention or maybe the available options will be better telegraphed in the final game, but in either case it's fair to say that careful attention to dialogue, thorough exploration of the environments and a knack for specializing characters properly (jack of all trades need not bother; AoD's skill system is all about making uncomfortable choices) are all necessary to get something out of this purposefully methodical RPG.

Download the public beta for free at:

http://www.irontowerstudio.com/

8 Comments
9 Comments
Posted by Egge

I've been following the development of indie studio Iron Tower Studio's Age of Decadence for several years now, and it's no exaggeration to say that it's one of the most promising hardcore PC RPGs in a long time. The game is nothing short of a Fallout-inspired isometric/turn-based RPG set in a rich pseudo-historical setting (strongly resembling late Antiquity/early Middle Ages) built from the ground up to support player choice, with lots of non-combat skills which have a major impact on the overall gameplay experience. Combat has intentionally been made the most difficult approach to finishing quests (rather than the default option, as in most RPGs), since you don't start out as a particularly capable warrior at all and going up against a numerically superior enemy is supposed to be as bad an idea in AoD as it is in real life...

The first time I took part in spreading the word about this game was way back in 2008 (when it was also mentioned on RPS), and even then the project had been going on for quite some time already. There have been significant delays along the way but unlike a few other implausible ambitious RPG projects out there (Grimoire, anyone?), AoD is not some vaporware threatening to dissolve into mere rumors; this is very much a real thing and a tremendous amount of work has already been put into everything from the graphics engine to the skill system, dialogue and quest design. None of the developers work on this full time, though, and given the sheer scope and scale of the project progress is understandably slow.

A short (and in my view somewhat underwhelming) combat teaser was released a while back, but now all fans of serious RPGs have a great opportunity to finally check out a much larger and more refined chunk (called "public beta") of the game, experiment with different character builds and experience how the chosen character class affects both the story and the gameplay options. It's not a game for everyone, though, and during my brief time with the new demo so far I've had some amount of trouble figuring out where to go and what to do despite some reasonably clear quest introductions, a seemingly helpful journal and many ways to go about solving a particular problem. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention or maybe the available options will be better telegraphed in the final game, but in either case it's fair to say that careful attention to dialogue, thorough exploration of the environments and a knack for specializing characters properly (jack of all trades need not bother; AoD's skill system is all about making uncomfortable choices) are all necessary to get something out of this purposefully methodical RPG.

Download the public beta for free at:

http://www.irontowerstudio.com/

Posted by ArbitraryWater

I will have to check this out, if only because it seems like a game that actually exists and is in development.

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Posted by GreggD

Seems interesting. Not really a fan of original series Fallout, but I'll probably check this out at some point.

Posted by Brodehouse

Is it a single character RPG, or a party based RPG? Because I hate skill specializations in a single character RPG like the Elder Scrolls. I don't want to know that I have to tolerate shitty combat because I wanted to be able to unlock doors, I hate having to miss out on dialogue options because I want to enjoy exploration. It makes no sense to build three parts of your game and then have two of them play shitty because the player needs to min-max. There's a big reason why adventurers form parties.

Posted by upwarDBound

I've been following this for the past year or so and I have to say this really looks stellar for an indie RPG. I love the faux post Roman empire collapse setting and am definitely going to check this out. This and Grimrock give me hope that we're going to see more old school syled games with decent production values.

Posted by Egge

@Brodehouse: It's a single-character RPG, and definitely built around some of the philosophies you seem, eh, not to be a big fan of. In general, I think locking the player out of content can be entirely legitimate from a design perspective (if done right) but when it comes to Age of Decadence specifically it seems that (the slightly less demanding term) "specialization" is a more appropriate description than "min-maxing". You apparently don't need to focus exclusively on a particular ability - and it's certainly possible to combine social skills with combat skills to some extent - but specializing in a few key areas is nonetheless highly recommended.

Posted by owl_of_minerva

It's a very intriguing game. Unfortunately I didn't get very far before the demo hard-locked on me, but it had some mechanical similarities to Fallout and a refreshing emphasis on stats over action mechanics.

Posted by Irvandus

This seems so up my alley. Will check it out.

Posted by deathstriker666

Just got through as much as I can with it. The demo is fairly limiting. Nothing about the game really stood out that impressed me. The writing seems to be the strongest suit of the game though much of it only seems to add to the lore or is a part of quests. Still not very convinced that it's worth the money when it comes out