I just want to get this out of the way and mention that Dead Age is not like most games you’d find in the mobile stores. It’s not free to play. It requires a one-time purchase and has no microtransaction options at all. You buy it, you get the full game: no strings attached.
The whole goal of Dead Age is to manage your camp and survivors so you can live long enough to trigger one of the multiple endings. The story is non-linear and features different survivors and daily missions every time you begin a new playthrough. I love the kind of variety this offers. As I mentioned, the game features permadeath so you don’t want to have to go through the exact same thing over and over whenever you bite the dust. Managing your survivors is simple enough. Just make sure the camp has enough rations so they don’t starve and make sure they don’t get killed in battle. Each survivor can be assigned one job per day. This ranges from hunting for rations to guarding the camp against looters, to creating an item or a piece of equipment. The survivor’s effectiveness at these tasks depends on their job skill level. The day ends when you either assign your main character a job for the day or you return from an outing. My biggest gripe with this game is navigating the menus. The menu UI is unintuitive and annoying, though I think this may be in part due to the nature of being played on a small phone screen. There is definitely a bit of a learning curve involved when getting used to navigating the menu.
You will find that Dead Age has all the hallmarks of a traditional RPG; turn-based combat, earning experience to level up, your character’s power is determined by stats, finding gear to equip and make you more powerful, and plenty of beneficial skills to be learned. Upon each level up, you are awarded a certain amount of points that can be spent on skills. There are two different categories of skills: Combat and Job. Job skills typically give you a better chance at succeeding at special events, while allowing you to create items in a specific field. Putting skill points in the Craft skill, for example, allows you to create better items in the Gunsmith and Outfitter jobs. Leveling up Combat skills makes you a deadlier combatant while giving you access to new weapon-related skills. I found it smart to have each survivor focus on one specific field of expertise so I could max them faster and gain access to the higher level crafting stuff.
The combat is a classic turn-based affair. Each character attacks one by one, with the order determined by their speed. Each character can have a gun and a melee equipped at the same time, but using guns costs you hard to find ammunition. Once you have learned special attack abilities, you can use them by expending AP. Your characters gain 1 AP each round, so you will need to save up your AP for a few rounds before being able to use your most powerful abilities. Abilities can also inflict status ailments on your enemies, like defense down and stun. Health can be restored by eating food or using up medkits. Characters can also recover 20% of their health at the beginning of each day.
Dead Age has some impressive graphics for a mobile game. I especially liked the rain and lightning effects that are seen in some areas. I had some framerate slowdown issues when I first started playing but I haven’t had a problem with that since the last patch was released. Dead Age only saves your game at the beginning of each day. I have mixed feelings about this because most people play cellphone games on the go for a quick gaming fix. There is no way of saving your game if you’re in the middle of an area, so if you have to turn off the game you’ll be right back at the beginning of the day the next time you play. Getting to the last stage of an area can be time-consuming, so you can see why this saving feature sucks. That aside, Dead Age makes for a fine mobile RPG for people looking for something heavier than the usual Android store fare.
*Note: A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of the review
+Pretty engaging gameplay for a mobile title
+Good amount of replayability
-Poor save feature