The Age of Decadence – Steam Backlog Bonanza [Blaugust 20]

628 words.

For the 23rd day of the Steam Backlog Bonanza, I played an indie game called The Age of Decadence, which I got in the 2016 Winter sale for $7.50. I think I mentioned this before, but the Winter sale of 2016 was the last time that I splurged on Steam games just because they were on sale.

The outdoor isometric view, which is actually not seen very much.

I don’t remember why I bought this game. But it’s interesting to me now because the game’s Steam store page spends a lot of time and effort trying to warn players not to buy and play the game. It’s filled with gems like this:

While we do want to sell more copies, we don't want people disappointed with what they buy, so to help you make an informed decision we put together this handy guide … giving you 3 good reasons (3 most common complaints) not to buy this game.

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.

Who can possibly resist playing an RPG that tells you flat out that you won’t like it? Maybe that’s what drew me to it in 2016.

Well the joke’s on them because it turns out I had a lot of fun with it. But perhaps not for the reason they expect. This is a game that’s almost 100% pure text-based. There’s no voice acting. That means you have to read every NPC interaction, and there’s a lot of it.

For me doing my dumb little videos, that means reading everything out loud, which internally makes me rub my hands together with glee because I’ve discovered this weird little quirk in the last few years where I find it really fun to read words out loud. It’s a bit like karaoke to me. It’s even more fun when it’s stuff from a role-playing game. I actually hurt my throat a little bit from reading so much stuff in an hour of playing.

This text-based NPC interaction is what you see most of the time in the game.

Mechanically, the game reminded me a lot of Fallout 1 and 2, or computer RPGs from even earlier, before there was more than static 2D picture graphics. In Age of Decadence, you walk around on an isometric game field, but you actually spend most of your time in dialogs with NPCs. I played for an hour and never encountered any combat. If you like “retro” games, you might like this one.

They’re not kidding when they suggest a pen-and-paper lineage. Many of the dialog choices result in a behind-the-scenes dice check against your character’s abilities. If you roll well on a persuasion check, for example, you get additional dialog options. Once I had an option to assassinate someone before they ran off to the authorities and rolled well enough to succeed, but again, there was no “video game combat” involved.

Will I play more? Under the right conditions, perhaps. And those conditions would be: If I’m recording videos of it. I can’t imagine playing it by myself, sitting by myself reading the text to myself. The story and worldbuilding wasn’t that good. And the font was really small, so it was kind of annoying to read it.

Live Stream - The Age of Decadence

Stream Production Notes: It’s basically an hour of reading game text out loud like an audiobook. Tremendous fun for me. Probably not for anyone else.

Previously on the Steam Backlog Bonanza: S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Call of Pripyat.

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