The Age of Decadence (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 11.02.2016

Review for The Age of Decadence  on PC

RPGs properly set in Roman time-frames are a rare oddity to be certain, with the Feudal, Sengoku, and even the Bronze Age eras usually getting more time in the limelight than it, at least when it comes to RPGs. The Age of Decadence tries to slip into this little niche and expand upon it through challenging gameplay, and an age where debauchery and corruption are the order of the day.

People seem to be under the heavy misunderstanding that 'difficult' or even 'challenging' is inherently related to being good. While it is true that part of a good game is how it can engage the gamers to try and do better, this can only go so far, and, without much effort to at least maintain the other aspects of a title, it comes apart at the seams. Thankfully, The Age of Decadence does not fall into this trap but it comes far too close for comfort, and all for the most ridiculous of reasons possible.

Taking place in a Roman time-setting it starts off with one of several backgrounds and the like. To its credit, the game does actually make this a bit interesting and involved. Picking the mercenary background, for example, begins with being the guardian for a merchant who ends up being attacked by assassins while opting to pick the assassin background places the player on the exact opposite side, who must now try to assassinate a merchant guarded by a mercenary.

Screenshot for The Age of Decadence  on PC

To further this along, there are a whole series of things interrelated to personal choices made throughout. If a character asks the retrieval a powerful lance, for example, it's possible to keep it or turn it over. Getting a potentially strong lance, however, will get the player considered 'dishonest' via a reduction of the Word of Honour stat, something that may shut off paths that would have otherwise been open to them.

This also tries to be difficult, and this is where the problems start to crop up. Firstly, it tries doing so by creating situations where careful diplomacy is the word of the day and not pitched combat. This sounds great on paper, but, in reality, greatly falters. Many of the various checks are a bit too each to pass or, conversely, too obvious or obtuse for a proper response without said stats - not to mention that they tend to be a bit schizophrenic in their response. Seeing a tough and grizzled mercenary suddenly providing insightful tips on soil acidity and farming techniques can be quite jarring, though not implausible.

Screenshot for The Age of Decadence  on PC

The real issue with the "difficulty" however is not the various social interactions which, while they can be a bit strange at times, tend to at least try and follow a flow of logic, if seemingly a bizarre one at times. The real issue is here is how the combat can be hard. Namely, it never is. The thing about making it challenging is that there are several ways to do it. One method is to present a situation in which triumphing over a foe is not a matter of brute strength but of fight mechanics. An MMO raid boss, for example, will almost always out-muscle the raiders trying to down it, yet, through experience, learning, and paying attention to the fight mechanics, even low-geared players can end up being more helpful than apathetic high-geared ones.

The Age of Decadence does not do that. Instead, it follows a method of simply making the fights statistically harder, but otherwise lacking in depth. Fighting a single bandit in the early game follows a very similar pattern to fighting endgame monstrosities, in that hitting him until he dies is pretty much the best course of action. Sure, there are some other options available, but, at the end of the day, a sword to the gut is simply the go-to tool for passing any fight, easy or not. As a result, the fights are "challenging" but only because the game will either gladly offer overwhelming numbers or very statistically strong foes, instead of some sort of mechanical depth.

Screenshot for The Age of Decadence  on PC

This is further amplified by some truly strange design choices. For example this runs on a fairly forward system of AP. In order to perform an action, such as movement or stabbing a foe, it takes AP. However, for certain sets of armour, there is a limit on how much can be used. This wouldn't normally be a problem as it makes sense… until it becomes clear that opting to wear pants limits this AP pool as well. The result? Streaking through combat wearing no protection at all because it will reduce the AP pool, and that only because clothes have an AP cap on them. While one could argue that this would make sense for gladiators and the like, it should be argued that the choice to put a limit on basic clothing, but not helmets or cloaks, is, likewise, strange.

As a whole, this ends up being uninteresting. The music is weak at best and more likely to be non-existent, the visuals are muddy, and everything simply feels like the developer missed just one minor detail that robbed the game of its potential power. The combat could have been more engaging if there was even room for tactics, the graphics could have been passable with just a bit more definition, and so-forth.

Screenshot for The Age of Decadence  on PC

Cubed3 Rating

3/10
Rated 3 out of 10

Bad

The primary issue with The Age of Decadence is that it feels as if all its problems could be fixed with one simple patch, but weren't. Giving a bit more detail in the quest journal? Would help a lot but not available. Mini-map? Nope. A bit more colour along with some more definition? Sorry. Clothes that don't restrict AP so that streaking wouldn't be the requirement for high-AP combat? Not an option. In its current state it's unpolished at best, but has some potential; potential that, sadly, seems like it has been denied. It shouldn't be avoided, however, as it would be average and, potentially, even enjoyable with these issues ironed out - but it currently feels more of a bore to play, with little to keep interest from tediously running back and forth because it couldn't be bothered to mention where an NPC might be.

Developer

Iron Tower Studio

Publisher

Iron Tower Studio

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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