Steam's last summer sale pushed me to really try and find something new. Somehow I missed Age of Fear 3, which was released in late 2017. It is easy for someone to skip over the game as it looks like it was made more than ten years ago.
The old school graphics can fool anyone into thinking the game might not be ready to play. Developer Leslaw Sliwko created this masterpiece Indie game with a small team. Although I had never heard of the series, I have now discovered that several of the games provide some truly engaging gameplay.
I would compare the game to Wesnoth in many ways, however, Age of Fear 3 contains more tactical play options with deeper choices. There are also some long-term strategy elements that make some not so obvious choices become very important early on.
A Partial Open World
The first thing I noticed was the stellar soundtrack. For an Indie game, I was also surprised to see decent voice-over work considering some bigger companies have missed that completely.
The UI is acceptable but could use some minor improvements to better sort through heroes. The game starts you off with a set of heroes that all contain different abilities.
There is a linear main story campaign with some options to deviate and do some side quests and missions. This gives a player a great opportunity to test new character builds and work on some heroes that are new or lower level.
Each Age of Fear game contains two campaigns. In Age of Fear 3, I chose to start with the dwarfs. The storyline is interesting and the jokes sucked a few chuckles out of me when I least expected it.
As you collect new heroes and skills, players will want to optimize their team and equipment. In one mission it may be better to have more ranged units while in another mission one may need to melee more.
I really have become attached to my units and their deaths often make me consider reloading or to take my loses. The game is challenging on the normal level.
Original Tactical Play
Combat offers a very original movement system. You have to think ahead about troop placement because one bad choice could force a player to move several units to get the right unit to the front of the line.
Units can form a barrier that prevents others from passing. The various skills can help players decide which tactics to use. In the below battle, I chose to use more ranged units.
I could have also chosen to use mechanical units with engineers to repair the damage. The game has a wide range of skills, spells, equipment, and units. The real depth here is the number of ways one can solve each scenario.
There are ways to recruit nonstandard units, as well, which further opens up new options for tactical play.
One of the Best Strategy Games I've Played This Decade
I can't recommend this enough. Like Ron Burgundy, I wanted to climb to the top of a mountain and scream to the world my love for this game. Luckily Steam's recommendation system led me to this gem because I had no idea these games existed. The price is good, and if you can get it on sale then even better.
The devs are very responsive. I had a minor issue with screen resolution and I received a reply on Steam in less than a few minutes. Upon reading other player reviews I saw a very good interaction between the community and developers. This feels like a lost art, but it is very refreshing to find devs that love their own game and want players to have fun. Support Indie devs like this and enjoy a masterpiece in gaming.
There is a great base here to build the series further in ways similar to Warhammer. I would love to see all the factions put together in multiplayer with a little more modern UI. I will be looking forward to seeing what happens with the series and what new avenues the devs lead us down.