GB Feature: The Age of Decadence Preview

Now that a public beta version of The Age of Decadence is available, we couldn't resist taking Iron Tower Studio's ambitious turn-based CRPG through its paces and cranking out a full hands-on preview. This should help inspire you to read it:
If there's one thing I love about CRPGs, it's their character systems. As I tend to lean towards the "roll-player" end of the spectrum, I really appreciate RPGs that allow me to customize my character in ways that are both creative and reflected in the game mechanics and world. Very few RPGs, unfortunately, do such a thing in this day and age. Arcanum may well be my favorite RPG of all time for this reason, imbalance and all, and it's a little sad I have to praise games like Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning simply for having non-combat skills at all.

The Age of Decadence, however, doesn't just have a good character system, it has one of the best I've seen in a decade. Borrowing heavily from Fallout, its six attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Perception, Intelligence, and Charisma) and 23 skills (12 non-combat, 11 combat) are additionally bolstered by close to a dozen reputation stats and the aforementioned backgrounds. There isn't just a choice between "punchy guy" or "talky girl", there's the opportunity to do just about whatever you want and see the game world respond accordingly. Focusing on combat, for instance, doesn't mean you'll never have a chance to use your head or social graces, and meanwhile smooth-talkers can also get ahead with a knife as much with words - Age of Decadence ensures just about every scenario can play out in multiple ways no matter how you spec your character.
There's also a pile of new screenshots in our image gallery, and that brings us to a total of 30 pages' worth of eye candy. Might want to make yourself comfortable.