Age of Darkness: Final Stand – Preview
Follow Genre: RTS, Base defense
Developer: PlaySide
Publisher: Team17
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Age of Darkness: Final Stand – Preview

Good: Another great title in its genre, Addictive gameplay
Bad: A.I. needs to be more self aware
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Being surrounded in a dire situation with limited resources is mostly considered a Final Stand for survival. With hordes of monsters closing in, it is your job to build defenses, gather resources, and amass an army to ensure survival for you and your followers. In Age of Darkness: Final Stand you will have to do just that. The game is closely inspired by a very popular other RTS Base defense game, They Are Billions. Even though we were granted access to an early version of the game, it turned into a really fun experience and a game that is worth looking forward to.

Age of Darkness: Final Stand is a game that came out in Early Access with very limited content. The developers have opted for this method so they can receive maximum feedback from the community. In its current version, there isn’t a story or anything as to why we are here or what we are doing in the game’s world. There is only a brief description of the two available heroes and that you must survive the waves of nightmares. A nightmare is a collective name used for the various monsters seen in the world. There are a bunch of different types that will come after you. These monsters range from crawling creeps to entities that look like ancient knights and large walking spiders. They are not that scary during the day, but encountering them at night is guaranteed to bring fear to your troops. You will be longing for the daylight when you are taking on a horde of these monsters.

Talking about the daylight, one thing immediately noticeable about the game is the realistic day and night cycle. The morning sun feels like a fresh breath of air, and exploring and building in the sunny daylight brings some relief, even though you are preparing for war in the evening. During the day, monsters are weaker and not likely to attack, but during the night, they will unleash all hell on your defenses or buildings. Securing your assets is a must, as the A.I. isn’t smart enough to defend nearby buildings if they are not instructed to.

Graphically the game is already in a really nice state, and while the game’s sound design is simple at this moment, there still is enough time to spice things up before its full release.

This Early Access version is all about showcasing the current gameplay mechanics and the available survival mode. In this mode, you must lead your few survivors to victory by successfully defending your keep against the incoming hordes of nightmares. The game hints towards nightmares thanks to its horror mechanic. Certain monsters can cast horror upon soldiers, and this causes them to get scared. Due to this, their stats will lower, and they won’t heal outside combat until they are back in a safe spot, such as the keep or light towers. A great aspect of the survival mode is that the maps are randomly generated, so you’ll have a new experience every time you try this mode. It all begins with you selecting one of two heroes: one is a strong fighter that can stand his ground in a fight, the other one is a queen of lands long forgotten, and she can call in guards to protect her. Both heroes are fun to play with, but for beginning players, it might be better to use the queen, as her helpers are a great aid when in a pinch.

Age of Darkness: Final Stand has a few RPG elements, but isn’t overly complicated, making it accessible for players who don’t really have any experience with the genre. Your hero will eventually level up and unlock more skills. These skills will get stronger, but you don’t have to select anything yourself during this upgrade process. For example, soldiers can become veterans. This means that after a certain number of battles, they become immune to being horrified and will have better survival chances. They are also easily recognizable by their angel-like aura surrounding them. The only skill tree in the game is a simple one in which you can upgrade base damage, health, and attack speed, for either ground-, ranged- or siege troops.

What makes this game so similar to They are Billions is that it closely resembles the core mechanics of that game. You start with a keep, a few civilians, and nothing else. You must start building resources so you can recruit more civilians and turn them into soldiers. It feels like this game has an endless loop of collecting resources, buffing up defenses, and staying put where you are. During your first few sessions, you’ll probably play very cautiously, but over time you will learn that creating safe sectors is your best method of expansion. The game is all about trial and error, and it even states at the beginning “you will fail”.

As only survival mode is available, you can enjoy playing this mode on different difficulty levels. Beware though, even on easy mode, this game can take you down like nothing if you don’t prepare. You’ll have to learn the game’s fairly simple mechanics and persevere. When easy mode becomes too easy, then you can always try a more challenging difficulty. The main goal is to destroy all the crystals on the map. These crystals will become unstable after a few days, and when they explode, they will unleash a horde of monsters. You can always destroy them beforehand, but by doing so, you still get a horde of monsters sent your way. We recommend only taking out these crystals yourself if you are confident enough that you will survive the nightmare that will follow soon after.

Conclusion

Age of Darkness: Final Stand is a game that somewhat mimics the fun gameplay of They Are Billions. Even though the survival mode might be the only available mode for now, with two heroes and different difficulties to choose from, you will have a good time trying to hold your own in the onslaught of the nightmares trying to destroy you. Thanks to the randomly generated maps, you have a new area to defend each time. With more content to come, this game is certainly one to keep on your watch list.

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MC_JP


Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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