Golden Age is different: that’s the first impression I got when I entered this side scrolling browser game. In the strategy niche characteristic with too much similarity, Golden Age seems to me successful lifting itself out of the identity crisis.
Its novelty appears at the very beginning. After creating the Sire (namely, in-game character) and choosing from three factions, we would come into the Sanctum Palace, which is an actual quest-offering hub to help sires level up. The palace is one of the three sections of the role-playing town that also consists of a square and a market. Designed side-scrolling, the map here features dozens of NPCs standing in a line, ready to offer various quests ranging from the simple buying items listed in a shopping list to the military training of a certain number of units(which is cleverly connected to the City quest so as to make the game a coherent entirety).
In the side-scrolling town, the Sire will traverse across the three sections, moving around where you click to guide her/him. Graphics are exquisite, styling postcards: as your sire run forward, the background scenario changes correspondingly, a grand palace here and a sailing ship there; and NPCs with their own professions marked above the head are different in looks and attires, yet invariably depicted to details bringing back a past Age of Medieval.
Animation is in fact limited to simple running, but enough to give a sense of concrete control over avatars. Yet whether it’s good or bad is a moot point: role-playing fans, especially the female players, may relish the animation of pretty sire hustling around the imperial court, market and square and talking to walks of all life to get quests done, while others, especially the impatient, perhaps think otherwise, preferring simple click and quick level-up. Role-playing town is only a small potion in the game, mainly serving to upgrade Sire so as to facilitate the strategic gameplay. After taking a few quests, we would be given a City to manage, which ushers in the city-building simulation. City-building seems to me no different from the usual format: build and upgrade many a constructions mainly revolving resources, population, military units and heroes, as well as research of weapons and items, etc. To build the city, we can simply click the Build icon, needless to personally plan the city outlay and locate a building to a certain place (each building’s site is pre-set), but it takes time, for we can only build two structures at a time at most.
Although City Quest is a little time-consuming, the whole quest system made up of different modes is reasonably fast, for we can accept varied quests in Main, Daily, City, Alliance and Hero categories at the same time. In this way, the rhythm of the game is quickened while the diversity of tasks also reduces the sense of boredom. But the quest system turns out less satisfactory as we move on deeper into the game: it seems to have exhausted its tricks to bring out more engaging and coherent tasks, which renders us idle and our sires stagnant in the game.
Another important part is naturally the strategic military acts. Instance Dungeon, PvE and PvP all included, is designed with different fighting styles. Dungeon combat is like that of Collectable Card Game, pitting two sides against each other in the form of hero cards, no visible fighting scene and a result report in the end to show win-or-lose. Dungeons vary with one another, different in requirement on entry conditions, allowed maximum of army size and time limit, etc. Personally, I don’t think there is much strategy in this part. And aren’t the zero causality of one side and total loss of units of the other a little too good to be true in a battle?
World map is large, consisting of four regions: Silver Beach, Laurel Creek, Harp Lake and Emerald Woods. Unique in landscapes, each region itself is large enough to explore for certain time before we gain enough experience and finally drive our army to cross the border, invading other areas. Initially to explore the region where our city is located, we can freely choose to seize unclaimed places and turn them into our colony, to conquer other players’ cities(especially those in low level an loosely taken care of by casual players) to make them our own, or to have a good fight against matching opponents to gain experience and rewards.
If you enjoy strategic play, this part would be your cup of tea with many a variable needed taking into account in order to gain the most out of each war. To attack an offensive styled rival city, an offensive army formation will have better chance to win; to make the capture of a place worthwhile, it’s certainly a must to calculate the remaining time of its existence in the map before the following refreshing setup; and to develop stably with the least assault from enemies, it’s better to claim regions from near to far and form necessary alliance with neighboring cities. It’s just a few obvious aspects that count, with much more to exploit if you put minds to it. Besides the bulk of three major parts mentioned above, Golden Age also does a good job in many lesser elements. For instance, the three factions are generally balanced with strength and weakness; and the interesting craft system enables varied modes, including forging weapons using collected objects, dismantling items into pieces useful in questing, and boosting equipment with embedded runes, etc.
Not that the game is not blemished with defects. First of all, it’s the great gap between free and paid players. Paid players not only enjoy a quicker level-up gained through the various bought bonues such as boost-up and extra building space, but also have absolute edges in battles with the immediate access to the eight epic heroes, which are decisive to victory of a war but meanwhile almost exclusive to free-to-play gamers. (long enough play may get you the basic ones if you are lucky).
Moreover, the Miracle Region on the map is more interesting, yet not within the reach of non-payers either. And another aspect that needs improving is the unbalance between limited factions (only three) and too many units. In fact, given the requirements of max army units in combats, a lot of units simply lie idle and wasted, making the great time spent on training really regrettable.
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