Preview: “Demons Age” Will Deliver Lots of RPG Goodness!
Lately there hasn’t been any sort of shortage of high-quality “classical” Computer RPGs to get your hands on. Pillars of Eternity was received extremely well when it launched in March of 2015 and then last month 505 Games published Ember, another fantastic RPG with a very detailed world with a rich story to explore. Oh, and let’s not forget under-appreciated little gems like Serpent in the Staglands.
Demons Age, which is under development by Bigmoon Entertainment, carries on that classical RPG tradition quite well. In the opening cinematic we are presented with the story of the peninsular region of Moragon, a land where Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings once lived in peace prior to the arrival of humans. Not long after, a great war broke out for control of the region and, seeing this chaos as an opportunity, the Lord of Darkness, Vazurh, allied with a great warlord named Zogalon to try and conquer all of the peninsula. After great strife, Zogalon was defeated and Vazurh sealed away through a vast magical power. It is upon this backdrop that the story unfolds.
When the game kicks off, we are presented with a prison ship out at sea and we can choose from the various prisoners whomever we want our main character to be. This seems to take the place of a character creator as each of the options has a chosen gender, race, and appearance as well as a character class. However, since they also have their own backstories (such as the reasons why they were put in prison in the first place), the character you choose will have an impact on the game’s story, not just the combat and other gameplay elements. In terms of classes, thinking of the game as a Dungeons & Dragons based system is not a bad idea (more on that in a bit). Fighter, Cleric, Ranger, Rogue, and Wizard classes exist and they each have their own strengths and benefits to offer. Also, each race has inherent abilities and skill levels, so a Dwarf might be more adept at being a Fighter than a Wizard, for example.
At any rate, once you select your character, you are treated to an opening sequence whereby your ship smashes on the rocks off the shore of Moragon and you end up washing up near the cliffside. It’s here where the real journey finally begins.
Early on, the game provides you with some NPCs who join in on your adventure. Later, you’ll have the ability to recruit new party members while at taverns and town locations. It’s worth noting that each NPC does have a backstory and may not be 100% on your side. NPCs can, and will, betray you, so it’s worth being careful who you let tag along and what you allow them to do.
Combat in Demons Age is done on a hexagonal grid system and, in D&D fashion, there is an order to the character and enemy turns that is determined when combat begins. AC actually factors in during enemy attack rolls, attack types take into account character skill levels, distance from the enemy, enemy AC and statistics, and more. For example, I noticed that the farther you are from an enemy, the lower the attack percent is with a ranged weapon (which makes sense, but is something many games don’t factor in). Since you only get so many movement points per character per turn, it’s worth planning out your moves in advance or else you may surprisingly meet your end.
The music in the game is quite good and all the NPCs are voice-acted and I found that the acting is also very well done. The cinematics appear like scenes from a graphic novel, and I felt that it actually worked out really well for the game.
Now, the build I played was deemed a “trial build” of the game, and while I think it is mostly complete it certainly will need some polish. The game defaulted to Windowed Mode for me and I was unable to change this in the graphical menu. I actually did finally manage to fix this by pressing ALT + Enter to force the window to fill the screen and then going in and changing the in-game resolution. However, many people wouldn’t think to do this. I also found that Vsync didn’t work as intended. While on, the frame-rate would be capped at 60 while the menu was active but immediately drop to 30 once in the game. If I disabled Vsync, I could pull in around 95 frames at 1440p, so the issue wasn’t a performance one on my end. Running the game at 4K with Vsync off was an overall good experience, though camera movement while the characters moved seemed less smooth than I’d like though, oddly enough, camera panning to look around the area was super smooth. In short: optimizations are needed before this one releases!
So far, there’s no set release date for Demons Age although it is planned to release not just on the PC, but also on the PlayStation 4 and XBOX One.
I’ve enjoyed my time with this one so far and am looking forward to sharing my experiences with you of the final, commercial release!