The Age of Decadence is a turn-based, hardcore role-playing game set in a low magic, post-apocalyptic fantasy world. The game features a detailed skill-based character system, multiple skill-based ways to handle quests, choices & consequences, and extensive dialogue trees.
Recent Reviews:
Very Positive (89) - 89% of the 89 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
All Reviews:
Very Positive (1,480) - 81% of the 1,480 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date:
Oct 14, 2015

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July 5

The New World - our next RPG

As you probably know, our next game is a sci-fi RPG inspired by Heinlein's Orphans of the Sky (a generation ship novel). The overall design will be similar to that of The Age of Decadence and follow the same principles:

  • Turn-Based combat with action points and different attack types based on tradeoffs.

  • Skill-Based character system.

    Class-based systems offer you different packages of skills and abilities, designed to ensure that no man is left behind and your rogue can kick as much ass as your fighter. It’s a good, time-honored design that makes it very hard to make mistakes. In comparison, skill-based systems offer all the freedom you can handle and don’t restrict you in any way, so the chances of you screwing up your character is fairly high, especially for the first time players.

    Neither system is better by default so it comes down to personal preferences and firmly held beliefs, which is where it gets a bit complicated. Some folks believe that games shouldn't allow the player to make bad builds and choices; anything else is bad design. I think that if every decision is awesome, it hardly matters what you choose. Making mistakes is part of the learning experience but not everyone has the patience for it.

  • Stats & Skills Matter not only in combat where they provide various bonuses but outside of combat as well, when exploring or dealing with people. It’s a deceptively simple aspect, so let’s examine it in details.

    What it means in practical terms is that your character would succeed in areas where his/her stats and skills are strong but fail where they are weak. For example, a perceptive person would notice something others won’t; a brute would be able to move a heavy object, etc.

    Obviously, the effect can be minor (i.e. you moved a boulder and found a couple of coins underneath it!), major (you moved a boulder and found a passageway to another area!), or anything in between (you moved a boulder and found a passageway to another area where you found … a couple of coins! T’was a good day for adventuring).

    Usually, stats and skills are checked in the following situations:

    • Multiple solutions (i.e. different ways to arrive to the same destination, everyone’s happy and nobody’s upset)
    • Optional content (limited ways to unlock optional content, aka. “gated” content)

    Multiple solutions are an important gameplay element, which allows you to go through a game in a manner fitting your character, but it is the optional content that truly differentiates one playthrough from another and boosts replayability (because solving the same problems in different ways isn’t enough).

    Naturally, optional content must differ in accessibility. Someone’s old shed should be easy to break into (let’s say everyone with a single point in lockpick, which is 80% of all players). An area that resisted all attempts to get into for decades or centuries like the Abyss should force most people to turn back to preserve the setting’s integrity (let’s say only 10% of players should be able to explore it). The rest of the content would fall somewhere in between.

    This approach greatly upset some players who felt that they were punished “just because they chose the ‘wrong’ stats”. Some RPG players are notoriously obsessive-compulsive and won’t rest until they create a character that can get the maximum amount of content, which does require reading online guides and meta-gaming like there’s no tomorrow – the fastest way to kill all enjoyment and ruin the game. Of course, the counter-argument is that failing repeatedly (considering how easy it is to make a character ill-equipped for what you're trying to do) is an equally fast way to kill the enjoyment.

    I’m not sure there’s a way to “fix it” as those who want to get maximum content in a single playthrough will continue to metagame no matter what. The moment you tell the player "sorry, buddy, you need to be this tall to ride this", some players won't accept the failure and would want to know this kind of info in advance. Not many people see it as "you win some, you lose some" design. Anyway, I'd love to read your thoughts on this matter.

  • Non-Combat ways through the game

    While combat should always be the main pillar of RPGs, allowing the player to avoid combat and progress in different ways opens up more role-playing and story-telling opportunities. Also it makes killing your way through the game YOUR choice rather than the only thing to do.

    AoD allowed you to talk your way through and in the CSG we’ll add a stealth path through the game. Here is what it means design wise:

    Combat should be avoidable in most cases. Enemies shouldn’t turn hostile on sight, which means that filler combat is out, which in turn makes the game much shorter. Populating a map with “enemies” is easy. Providing paths to sneak past and writing fitting intros and dialogues with logical speech checks (you can’t just ask them nicely and passionately to let you through) for each encounter, as well as reasons for them to be there in the first place isn’t. It’s also very time-consuming and heavy on scripting, which is always an issue for a small team.

    Even playing Pillars of Eternity I was surprised how much filler combat the game had and wondered if cutting it out wouldn’t have boosted the game’s replayability as I’d rather play a shorter game several times to explore different options than run through an endless bog of generic encounters that serve absolutely no real purpose.

    Keep in mind that combat is an active gamepay aspect – basically, its own game with its own rules and complex mechanics. Dialogues are a passive aspect. You choose a line, click and see what happens. Unless dialogues are the main and only gameplay element, it will always be inferior to combat on a system level, much like no RPG has managed to offer a stealth system that rivals that of Thief.

    Thus the talking and sneaking paths will be much shorter by default but the assumption is that it’s part of the meal not the meal itself, i.e. the full experience will require several different replays, combat AND non-combat, which brings us to the next item: replayability.

  • Non-Linear & Replayable

    First let’s define what it means. Linear design is easy to understand: you move from A to B to C, always in this order, which takes away the freedom of choice completely. Then we have the “Bioware design”: do 4 locations in any order, which as an illusion of choices, much like dialogues where you get to say the same thing in 4 different ways.

    True non-linearity requires two things:

    • Multiple ways leading toward the endgame location (i.e. branching questlines), so you never have to travel the same path if you replay the game
    • Very few “required” story-telling nodes (locations, conversation, events) the player simply must visit or trigger in order to progress.

    The positives are clear. Now let’s take a look at the negatives:

    The game will be short because you’re taking all available content and splitting it between multiple paths and filter it down via mutually exclusive decisions. AoD has over 110 quests, which is a lot, but you get no more than 20-25 per playtrhough and that’s if you leave no stone unturned.

    Overall, I believe that it’s about finding the right balance, which is always the case with all sufficient complex systems and issues. Your feedback is critical, provided it fits our design core, so regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with my take on these aspects, feel free to share your thoughts.
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“Age of Decadence is an RPG to its core. It offers the player a wealth of choices, many of them carrying lofty consequences along with them. The core design element of player choice transcends simple dialogue choices, as players can progress through the game in a variety of styles. Many games offer up the illusion of choice while failing to actually deliver, but Age of Decadence serves up difficult and tangible crossroads with no looking back. It may have some rough spots, but it is one of the most well-designed RPGs I have had the pleasure of enjoying.”
9/10 – Destructoid

“But Age of Decadence wants nothing to do with kobolds, just as it wants nothing to do with Doo-dads of Unimaginable Power. The overarching idea is a crumbling society divided among three noble Houses, each fumbling around in its own version of darkness to comprehend what destroyed the world. That’s the central mystery. It plays out like noir in that you are the detective, piecing together what really happened from differing accounts, all vividly written with clear voices and efficient prose. And like a detective in a noir yarn, you can’t help but become part of the central mystery, effecting an outcome you might not have intended. Age of Decadence might run away from you.”
4/5 – Quarter to Three

“The Age of Decadence is a dream game from fans of the purest form of cRPG to others. An very interesting narrative driven title with a superb C&C system in place, a well meditated combat system and a world and inhabitants that keep surprising you at every step.”
9/10 – Meristation

About This Game

The Age of Decadence, our first but hopefully not the last RPG, is now available. If you've been following it or playing it in Early Access, you know what to expect. If you've just discovered it, "stay awhile and listen". The most commonly asked question is:

What Kind of Game Is It?

It’s a very different game than anything you’ve ever played. I’m sure you’ve noticed that the RPG genre hasn’t really been explored yet and most RPGs follow the formula that didn’t change in 20 years. While there were always games that strayed off the beaten path – Darklands, Planescape: Torment, King of Dragon Pass – such games were the exceptions that only reinforced the rule.

The Age of Decadence is an experiment, an attempt to explore a different direction, taking you back to the PnP roots of the genre. It doesn’t mean that the game is awesome. In fact, there is a good chance that you won’t like it, precisely because we took too many liberties with the established design.

So What Sets The Age of Decadence Apart From Other Games?

1. The Setup

Traditionally, many fantasy RPGs are about killing things, clearing up dungeons, and being a hero. There is nothing wrong with mindless fun and wish fulfillment, but we want to offer you something different. To quote Tom Chick (Quarter to Three's game critic):

"But Age of Decadence wants nothing to do with kobolds, just as it wants nothing to do with Doo-dads of Unimaginable Power. The overarching idea is a crumbling society divided among three noble Houses, each fumbling around in its own version of darkness to comprehend what destroyed the world. That’s the central mystery. It plays out like noir in that you are the detective, piecing together what really happened from differing accounts, all vividly written with clear voices and efficient prose. And like a detective in a noir yarn, you can’t help but become part of the central mystery, effecting an outcome you might not have intended."

The Age of Decadence is not a game about killing monsters or exploring mystical lands, but rather, surviving amid the greed and brutality of your fellow humans and carving out a name for yourself. Good and bad are purely relative. It’s a world of scheming and backstabbing in which your words and actions have the potential to forge alliances and sow discord, and your path is never certain.

You get to play with seven different factions: three Noble Houses and four 'professional' guilds: merchants, assassins, thieves, and the army, all fighting for power or influence; over 100 named characters, over 750 ‘generic’ characters with unique IDs taking part in violent take-overs, assassinations, and power grabs, and over 600,000 words of dialogue: a well-developed and thought through world, believable characters, realistic motivations, but no elves, dwarves, magic, and wizards in fashionable, pointy hats.

2. Combat difficulty

Another design aspect worth mentioning is combat difficulty. It’s a hard game.

Combat difficulty is integrated into the setting. You can’t say that the world is harsh and unforgiving and then let the player kill everyone who looks at him or her funny. The game has to be hard, dying should be easy, and you should have reasons to pick your fights.

You aren’t a powerful hero who can defeat anyone and save the world and it is the difficulty that reinforces this notion. Make the game easier and we’re back to the powerful hero setup. So unless you’re a natural born killer, watch what you say and think before you act or you’ll end up dead before you can blink.

3. Choices & Consequences

Choices are what the game is all about - crafting your own narrative via a variety of choices that alter the story, playing field, and your options down the road. From multiple quest solutions to branching questlines you'll have plenty decisions to make and consequences of said decisions to deal with, which is what makes the game incredibly replayable.

Starting the game as a mercenary and joining the Imperial Guards will give a completely different experience, different quests, different content and points of view than, say, playing the game as a merchant (less buying low and selling high, more scheming and plotting to gain advantages for the guild), a praetor serving a Noble House, or an assassin.

The questlines are interwoven, forming a large, overarching story, so playing the game only once will be like witnessing events from a single perspective, which is limited by default. You will have to play the game several times to better understand what’s going on, piece everything together, and see the full effect of the choices you make.

The Big Question: Should You Buy The Game?

Try before you buy. Even if everything I said sounds exactly like your kind of game, try the demo first. That’s what it’s there for. It gives you access to the first Chapter, consisting of 3 locations and about 30 quests split between mutually exclusive questlines and decisions.

System Requirements

    • OS: Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10
    • Processor: 2 GHz Processor or better
    • Memory: 3 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce GTS 250 / Radeon HD 4770 (1Gb) or better
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 1900 MB available space
    • OS: Windows 7/Windows 8/Windows 10
    • Processor: 2.5 GHz Processor or better
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Nvidia Geforce GTS 450 / Radeon HD 4870 (1Gb) or better
    • DirectX: Version 9.0c
    • Storage: 1900 MB available space
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