Fear the Darkness – Age of Darkness (Steam) Review

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The opening cutscenes of Age of Darkness: Final Stand has all the makings of a very well-made game. We see a small but thriving village overgrown with trees with a woodcutter lodge just parallel to it. Several food huts are placed across a jotted line of makeshift homes. Villagers are wandering about, milling and taking goods to and from one area to another.

Down one patch of dry land, our Hero is quickly taking out a large group of creatures who are guarding an area of interest. With a wide swing of his sword, the enemies are quickly banished. Of course, having a few abled soldiers around make the killings easier. From there, our Hero and his men stand guard as an eerie fog slowly engulfs the village. Foreboding warnings echo throughout the desolate landscape. Darkness has come, and the nightmare is set to begin.

One of its most fascinating qualities about the game is its keen judgment of the player’s learning curve. The early levels simply repeat scenes and dialogue until you get used to the mechanics, which ultimately, prepares you for the final showdown that is to come.

At first glance, Age of Darkness: Final Stand from developer PlaySide Game Studios, presents scenes and situations of utter impossibility. It gives us a small settlement to work on. It introduces a few of its inhabitants, especially our Hero while establishing a unforeseen threat lurking beyond. And then the rest of the game is devoted to scenarios in which the threat either does or does not destroy its intended targets. Looking at the zoomed-in shots of the monstrous hordes as they prepare to invade your settlement, you start to question your abilities and think to yourself, ‘How am I suppose to fend these demons off?’

Obviously, by building walls, utilizing choke points, and placing archers atop guard towers, you can easily do it, at least the first several waves anyways. After that, you’ll need to really beef up your defenses, research technology, and build up your army. Still, the thought of taking on a few hundred creatures against a handful of your men just doesn’t seem possible.

But all is not lost, because there is never a logical course to have a fair fight between monsters and people, there’s a convenient mechanism that developers use to level the playing field: Magic. Age of Darkness provides you with a hero so endowed with magic and human strength that he can, for the most part, take on the entire horde himself.

Foreboding warnings echo throughout the desolate landscape. Darkness has come, and the nightmare is set to begin.

The build feature follows the basic RTS formula and is as simple as it gets. Building homes increases populations which means there will be more workers to harvest and gather supplies. The skill tree is used to increase the abilities and talents of your soldiers, who will definitely need all the help they can as soldiers are ridiculously expensive, not just to produce but to maintain.

Our Hero also has special abilities that can be enhanced by battling enemies, so keep him in the fight whenever possible. Your main structure, The Keep, is the heart and soul of your settlement, so you’ll need to protect it at all costs. Upgrading the Keep gains you more access to vital research and technology which can then open up new upgrades to build.

But my main criticism of the game is that, in the end, Age of Darkness: Final Stand, just becomes a spam fest, although a good one at that. One of its most fascinating qualities about the game is its keen judgment of the player’s learning curve. The early levels simply repeat scenes and dialogue until you get used to the mechanics, which ultimately, prepares you for the final showdown that is to come.

There is no doubt that Age of Darkness, is an exhilarating roller coaster ride, but it’s a ride that you will eventually want to get off once you’ve experienced what the gameplay has to offer. However, there’s enough variety here to keep the game interesting, and since it is still in Early Access, there’s plenty of opportunities for other game modes to be implemented. If you’re looking for a game to scratch your RTS itch, Age of Darkness: Final Stand is a good choice.

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