An Aussie Studio Is Making A Dark Fantasy RTS

An Aussie Studio Is Making A Dark Fantasy RTS
Image: PlaySide Studios

Here’s a few things you don’t see in a sentence too often: there’s a new RTS game on the block, it’s dark fantasy, and it’s being made by an Australian studio.

Announced overnight, it’s called Age of Darkness: Final Stand. And there’s a few things that immediately stand out. For one, this seems like an awful lot of units for an RTS game to flood on screen at any given moment. The developers claim their engine is capable of rendering “over 70,000 enemy units on the screen at one time”:

Image: PlaySide Studios

Not 70,000 units in that shot, but it’s … look, that’s enough Zerg to manage at any one given time.

An official release says it’s pitched as a survival RTS title, but what’s curious is that it’s coming from Melbourne devs PlaySide Studios. PlaySide has made waves over the last year courtesy of their listing on the Australian Stock Exchange, but the studio’s output has traditionally focused on VR, AR and mobile titles.

But they’ve incorporated plenty of talent to make Age of Darkness work. A quick LinkedIn search reveals that Sean Gabriel, the lead designer on Age of Darkness, is the same lead designer and programmer behind DESYNC, the Aussie neon shooter that awarded you points depending on how creatively you killed enemies. (Very similar to ULTRAKILL in concept, except the Aussie game came out years before ULTRAKILL did.)

Age of Darkness: Final Stand heralds PlaySide’s expansion into the hardcore PC platform. As a studio created to develop AAA titles, the vision has always been to develop larger, more hardcore titles on PC and console,” PlaySide CEO Gerry Sakkas said.

Gabriel added in the release that Age of Darkness will incorporate elements of roguelikes and action RPGs, as well as traditional RTS elements like resource management, building construction, fog of war, procedurally generated maps and holding back waves of enemies.

Here’s the official trailer. It’s mostly CG, but there’s a few snippets of live gameplay, enemy movements, and the overall aesthetic that can be expected.

It’s only listed as a single-player game for now, and the whole description and look is reminding me a lot of They Are Billions, an RTS about a steampunk village battling back a zombie horde. Age of Darkness looks like it has a similar concept in that you’ll build your base during the day, but we’ll find out more when Age of Darkness launches in early access this spring.

Here’s the full feature list, straight from the devs:

Survive the Never Ending Evil

Age of Darkness: Final Stand will enter early access with an intense survival game mode that tests your resolve. By day, construct buildings, gather resources, and recruit an army led by unique Heroes. Scout into the deadly fog of war and take the fight to the horrors within. By night, survive swarms of enemies numbering in the thousands. Made to be highly replayable, your army will fall, your settlements will crumble, but you will learn. Rise from the ashes again and again to push back the darkness of ‘The Veil’ and keep the light alive.

Fog of War: Evolved

Light up a rich, complex, procedurally generated map to claim territory back from ‘The Veil’. A dynamic living death fog that conceals enemies, drains life from your troops and turns structures into spawning nests for the Nightmares. Holding the line against this terror is not for the faint of heart. Any units unfortunate enough to be too close to ‘The Veil’ become ‘horrified’, sending them into fits of fear and lowering their effectiveness. Only light cures the darkness, so fight in the light or pay the price.

Death Nights

Brace yourself against huge tidal waves of Nightmares. Leveraging an internally developed technology called ‘SwarmTech’ allows the game to render over 70,000 enemy units on the screen at one time. These enemy legions claw their way up through seething fissures in the earth to reinforce ‘The Veil’. When the Death Night begins, you’ll be weakened by a Malice – a random affliction capable of undermining the best laid plans. If you are fortunate enough to survive until dawn you will be rewarded with a choice of Blessings. Live or die, Death Nights will test your strategic skills to breaking point.

Heroes Vs Horrors

Lead the charge against the horrors of the night with powerful and unique Heroes. Using special abilities gained from levelling up, these Heroes can be key to turning the tide of a desperate battle. But beware, the Nightmares have elite roaming champions of their own that drop precious resources when killed, posing an extreme and ever-present threat to your expansion. Are you the hunter, or the hunted?

For more info or to wishlist the game, here’s the Steam page.

Comments

  • How far we’ve come since the days of games like “The Horde”. It looks interesting, but these games all live and die by how finely they walk the balance between “Ok let’s try something different this time” and “It’s so tedious having to start from scratch each time”.

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