There are few game worlds as foreboding as that presented in Age of Darkness. This dark fantasy strategy game tasks you with managing and growing out a township in a world beset by malevolent forces tearing their way into the human realm. It’s a game where the odds always look insurmountable, but with the right strategies and planning you can drive back the relentless swarms.
With its pleasing isometric perspective, Age of Darkness looks like an old-school real-time strategy game, albeit with enemy numbers pumped up to unfathomable levels. But really, the game is as much about thoughtful town-planning and base-building as it is about epic battles.
At times your brave warriors on the frontlines – the last vestiges of humanity – will be outnumbered many thousands to one, and will need to be backed by towers, turrets and traps as they protect your stronghold’s walls. They will also need training via customisable skill trees to outsmart and outlast the enemy.
But this world of perpetual darkness will not make things easy for you.
First off, the game gives a whole new layer of meaning to the term ‘Fog of War’. Light vs dark is not only a theme here, it’s a key mechanic.
The force of darkness is known as ‘The Veil’, and you’ll need to use fire to spread light over the maps and reclaim them from the enemy, which in turn will allow you to expand your settlements.
The thick dark fog surrounding your enclave of humanity serves the classic RTS function of hiding your enemies, but when Death Nights envelop the land it becomes deadly, draining the life from any human who enters it.
During these nights, a so-called ‘Death Fog’ creeps towards you from all sides, causing The Veil’s forces to multiply. With developer PlaySide Studios’ in-house SwarmTech technology capable of rendering 70,000 units on-screen at once, be very wary of the kind of numbers you’ll be dealing with.
On these nights enemies will be endowed with dangerous modifiers, such as blowing up upon death, and you’ll also need to look out for negative modifiers on your own settlement. The water may become infected, for example, creating a chance that your own troops will turn into nefarious Nightmares.
But don’t fret, dear holdout of humanity. Use light and tactical prowess to hold off the Death Fog, and you’ll be handsomely rewarded. Each time you survive a Death Night, you’ll get to pick from several permanent Blessings, which will swing the war back in your favour. Perhaps you want your units to embrace the nightmare and heal when they have the ‘Horrified’ status, or for your Heroes to gain double experience. Your decisions will help shape your strategies going forward.
And yes, you read that right. Your troops will be led by a roster of unique Hero units, but we’ll save those for the next feature.
So, light your torch and sharpen your blade. Age of Darkness: Final Stand is available now in Early Access on Steam.