When the forces of darkness threaten to eradicate the last surviving dregs of humanity, how fast will you move? That’s the question Age of Darkness: Final Stand asks as you attempt to balance combat with base building, trying not to let your base fall into ruin. You will choose one of three remaining factions of humans, and then try to survive against the forces of darkness that prowl the land that you inhabit.
In a manner similar to They Are Billions, you are thrown into a randomly generated map with different resources and enemy locations. You will have to build up your base’s resources and defences while doing your best to stamp out the forces of darkness. It’s a game that is strictly about survival, with no narrative to give you any background, at least in the Early Access version of the game that we’ve spent some time with!
The game will be trial by fire; you are expected to make mistakes as you learn the basics of the game. You will learn how to gather resources, what buildings you need to create, as well as the basics of defending your base to make sure enemies can’t slip through. Even the smallest mistake can lead to your complete destruction, which will teach you some painful lessons in being attentive and cautious.
To stand out from the competition, Age of Darkness: Final Stand tries to shake up the formula by adding more risk vs. reward ideas. Where games like They Are Billions only had one faction building itself up, you are able to choose from three factions who have their own strengths and Hero units. These strengths will be useful as you start expanding and building more structures, which then turn into powerful benefits.
You will quickly need resources like stone and iron that can’t easily be found nearby. This puts pressure on the player to expand but also ensures that they have the appropriate defences set up. But setting up strong defences will just make it harder to expand outwards, and you need to find that balance before complacency sets in.
“These Elite Nightmares are a challenge and only appear at night, decimating unprepared players.”
Exploring the land isn’t just clearing out enemies that can destroy your base. You can also explore to find Points of Interest that give you benefits, or search for resource locations that you need for upgrades.
Daytime exploration is safer, as enemies are slower and aren’t as powerful. Nighttime exploration is dangerous, but you can get great rewards hunting strong enemies known as Elite Nightmares. These Elite Nightmares are a challenge and only appear at night, decimating unprepared players. But if you manage to build an army capable of taking them down, you can get crystals that can be used for upgrades.
Making exploration more meaningful is a nice touch because it makes you consider the times you want to explore and balance the risk. You also have to think about how far you want to expand because you leave yourself open to attacks that may be too much for you to handle.
Every few days, there will be a Death Night, where enemies will start to attack your base from a certain direction. Preparing for the Death Night can be a tough task because it gets harder every time it happens. Fortunately, if you survive, you will get a blessing that gives you a permanent bonus, making it easier to handle the rest of the game.
While the blessings are randomised, it does feel like there is a point to surviving the Death Nights, rather than just going through the motions. Just as your enemies get stronger, you become more powerful the longer you are able to survive. You can also check out the places where enemies emerge from every Death Night, getting rewards at those locations as well.
Age of Darkness: Final Stand is a difficult game to pick up because of its intensity, but the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you succeed is worth the effort. It will test your perception and reflexes as you quickly mobilise your resources to stay alive. While there isn’t much variety in gameplay right now, future updates should address that problem in time.
Age of Darkness: Final Stand is available now on Steam as an Early Access title.