Impressions
Episode

AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND is a brutal, beautiful take on the tower-defence genre

A top-down, wave based survival strategy game, AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND is a view of humanity on its knees.

October 28, 2021 11:00 AM
“I think…. I think we’re going to be okay? Oh god, oh NO!”

If there was a phrase I blurted out more times than I care to admit during my time with AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND, it was this. 

A top-down, wave based survival strategy game, AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND is a view of humanity on its knees, swiping out one last time against a hellish onslaught of demons and otherworldly horrors.

Or, perhaps it’s a hypothetical fascism simulator, where a culture affixed on its own annihilation and a never ending assault of enemies contorts every part of its cities and culture to a unsustainable war machine. Just a thought!

In our time with the game, we were only able to play in Survival mode, owing to AGE OF DARKNESS’ current state as an early access title.

The game immediately conjures nostalgic impressions of classic RTS titles like Warcraft III; after choosing a scenario, some difficulty settings, and our ‘hero’ (a flaming sword wielding daddy called Edwin), Age of Darkness thrusts you directly into the map with little fanfare or explanation.

What’ll become clear as you poke around the interface in this opening section is that you only directly control combat units and building upgrades.

Worker units like villagers operate on their own resource gathering schedule after you assign them to a building such as a food hut or a lumber mill, dutifully returning the fuel of warfare back to your resource centers without your input.

There is some optimisation to be found here by placing your huts so they’re hitting the highest possible amount of resources, but it becomes clear as you play that scale of industry seems to be just as good as efficiency of industry.

According to the developer PlaySide up to 70,000 units can be displayed on screen at once.

But why collect 1000 wood if you’re not going to burn it all in a single evening, right?

AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND climaxes every few in-game days with a Death Night, a period where the ghostly fog that has claimed the majority of the world will close in around you and hordes of monsters put your defences to the test, a visually stunning moment (the game can supposedly draw 70,000 units on-screen at a time) that drives home just how on the ropes you really are.

The calmer daytime periods between Death Nights are where you’re expected to spend your resources wisely on walls, watchtowers, light sources and military units in order to be prepared when death comes a-knockin’.

You’re also able to poke cautiously at the rather oppressive fog of war that the map is smothered in, levelling up your hero and their soldiers so they’ll be ready when the real battles begin.

Ultimately, AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND is a handsome and difficult twist on the tower defence genre, but beware that entering into it at this early stage without much of a guide will see players learning a lot of lessons the hard way.

I’m extremely keen to see the full scope of this game, especially the campaigns the team at developer PlaySide present which will hopefully give the game a bit more structure.

AGE OF DARKNESS: FINAL STAND is available now in Early Access on Steam, and this copy was provided by the publisher.

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Age of Darkness: Final Stand

PC
Developer:
PlaySide
Publisher:
team17
Release Date:
August 10, 2021
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