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The demo takes place in Teron, a settlement under control of House Daratan, one of the major factions in the game. Things are happening in Teron and you're right in the middle of it. Where exactly depends largely on your background. For example, a merchant arrived in Teron, someone who pissed off the merchant's guild (The Commercium) earlier. He's going to die, that's for sure, but your role in the event isn't set in stone. Perhaps you're a member of the Commercium recruiting the assassin's guild to get rid of him, perhaps you're the assassin tasked with his removal. You can also be a thief, robbing him on behalf of the thieves guild, or a mercenary working as his bodyguard. It all depends on the trade you've picked on character creation. That's how the demo works out, you're experiencing the events in Teron from different angles, solving quests in different manners. You can most likely play the game ten times and still discover that things work out differently. Replayablity is indeed a feature.
Role-playing, also known as the ability to play a game according to the skills and features of your character, being able to solve quests and objectives in ways appropriate for your choice of stats and skills, is one of those strong points. Of course combat, being the backbone of your traditional RPG, is always an option but you can generally solve quests with your character's skills as well. Take my playthrough with a Thief as an example: putting my points into traditional rogue stuff like Sneaking, Stealing, Lockpicking plus adding a bit Lore, Crafting, Disguise (in other games known as Bluff) and Persuasion, I've been able to come through the whole demo without any combat. OK, almost without any combat, towards the end I had to kill a single dude but I had some of my thieves-guild bros with me at that time and they did all the work. Of course, I dialogue-killed a few dudes by picking the [Critical Strike] dialogue option which pops up every once in while.
Every time you're not opting for the combat approach to a quest the game takes you into text-adventure mode and lets you solve the quest with different skill- and stat-checks. Better hope you're able to meet those checks or else you'll probably end up walking towards the light. In my playthrough as a merchant I was really big on social skills and came through the demo without raising a dagger even once. I could pull a lot of stunts purely with social skills, tricking people, double-crossing, fucking them and coming out on top in the end. One cool incident happened when I convinced a zealot who was preaching to the masses that I'm the Chosen One.
But you know what's even cooler: killing them all. Contrary to how most cRPGs work, taking the combat route in The Age Of Decadence is likely the hard path. Succeeding in skill checks is easy, but killing all those fuckers, that's where the real challenge awaits. And the game isn't shy about it, odds are, your very first combat encounter will already tell you that combat in AoD means serious business. To get a character who's truly capably to win every combat encounter in AoD you'll probably need to dedicate yourself to combat skills entirely and even then maintain a narrow focus, not spreading your skill points too thin. Of course that means, having sub-par social skills, you'll likely be unable to solve quests in non-violent ways to begin with, with perhaps the exception of an Intimidate check every now and then, because your bodycount number factors into Intimidate checks. That's right, NPCs in The Age Of Decadence know when you kill people frequently and they're behavior might change accordingly.
And to give us a better idea of when the rest of us will see the demo, there's a Q&A with Vault Dweller at the end:
What are the current release plans for the demo?
The content is done (by that I mean not the original content, but the extra quests and dialogues added as a result of the testers' feedback).
At the moment Oscar and I are going over the balance (combat, skill checks - for example, the thieves guild's questline's checks are too low, so you can go through the quests without failing and having to seek/try alternative ways; skill point rewards - looks like we were a bit too generous there), while Nick is busy fixing bugs.
The balance shouldn't take more than a week. The bugs will require more time. We'd like to release the demo in February, but if it's not ready, it's not ready. We're definitely close though.