“Let this be a reminder, old man. Either you leave this valley or I’ll bury you in it. The choice is yours.” – Major Harrison, ‘They Call Me Trinity’.
Developer: IQ Soup
Released: 3rd May 2022
Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux
Available on: Steam
- Original, well-developed western-steampunk setting that works well and feels dynamic.
- Interesting story that, despite some clichés, keeps interest up and is paired with interesting characters.
- Decent amount of worthwhile side-quests, optional activities.
- Good variety of parts to customize and improve your ship with, including rare or unique ones.
- Lackluster roleplaying factor: your choices will ultimately lead to the same events in most cases, while good or bad reputation doesn’t seem to influence anything tangible.
- Some annoying quality of life issues, such as absence of equipment comparison, no quick buy / sell, extremely slow world travel speed, inability to skip low-level trash encounters.
- The overall challenge level is mild at best: you become powerful pretty soon, while the encountered enemies are often not up to par. No difficulty settings available.
- Enormous amount of typos, grammar errors and general writing mishaps in dialogues and descriptions.
Bugs & Issues
- Severe FPS drops may occur when opening the inventory or trading interfaces.
- Rarely, some dialogues may not trigger correctly.
- Some UI / UX elements may temporarily glitch out, not function or display incorrectly.
- F12 brings up a debug interface: reassign the screenshot key to something else.
- 32GB RAM
Content & Replay Value
It took me around 25 hours to complete Age of Grit, and also clear all side-quests I could find. Despite being (wrongly) marketed as a CRPG, the variety of builds and choices is rather limited, its content mostly linear. No reason to replay once finished.
Is It Worth Buying?
Yeah. The default price of €12.50 is more than fair for this amount and quality of content. Overall, I can recommend buying for full price if you’re interested.
Age of Grit is a passable RPG, with its original setting and an interesting story as strong points. It lacks polishing, and is lackluster in some aspects, sure, but not too bad overall.
Age of Grit – In-Depth Analysis
Premise, Setting & Writing
After the Great Migration, most of humanity moved to a large continent known only as “The West”, currently under the control of three major factions, hanging in a fragile peace brokered after several bloody conflicts. You’ll play as grizzled war veteran Jeb Rockwell, a no-nonsense hardcore cowboy with a small but skilled crew under his command. Soon enough, a certain event triggers newfound lust for vengeance in Jeb, as he chooses to embark on a journey filled with political intrigue, secrecy and – of course – a good dose of violence.
The blend of steampunk and western settings is hardly innovative, however Age of Grit manages to do it right thanks to a solid amount of lore not only about the main cast and events, but also technology, society, history and other aspects – most of which is gained through optional dialogues. Generally, characters and quests have solid writing, with a high amount of exposure and details that contribute in painting a clearer picture of what’s going on, even if at times some aspects may seem implausible or irrational.
Exploration & Side Activities
Due to finite fuel, your ship will be limited to predetermined routes along the world map, with cities and outposts being ‘dots’ along these imaginary roads – there’s no free-roaming (which is disappointing for an RPG), but there may be random events along the way, such as enemy encounters or discoveries with positive or negative outcomes. Each location can be entered, displaying important characters to speak with, which in turn may give information, assign quests, have stuff to trade, or even challenge Jeb to a duel.
Cities serve as ‘hubs’ for character dialogues, essentially, and it’s important to note some of them may evolve or not be available anymore, as days dynamically pass while traveling. The main side-activity will be questing (usually assassination or fetch assignments), of course, although trading comes as a close second. Buying low to sell high where a specific good is in higher demand can net good profits, too bad your cargo hold can never be upgraded in size, so this is a relatively low risk but tedious way of making money.
Always one-on-one and with simultaneous turns, combat pits ships against each other in aerial duels. Each turn you’ll be able to choose where to spend your steam points: activate your radar for passive bonuses in evasion, armor penetration and accuracy, rev up the engine to gain more steam next turn (but watch out for overheating), or use it on weapons, enabling them to fire more powerful volleys the more steam is used to juice them up.
Most murder tools have special random effects that may influence your or the enemy’s ship, such as setting them on fire, blowing up in your face, or disabling a system, other than their own accuracy rating, steam cost per shot, penetration values. It may seem like a lot of factors to consider, but at the end of the day the best strategy is buffing up, stacking steam for some turns, then unleashing all your weapons on whatever poor sod you’re fighting, usually obliterating them.
You get a chance to get some of your foes’ weapons or gear when you kill them, to then use them or sell them at a city for an extra buck. Combat has a decent system but a lot of features feel under-utilized, it’s not as complex as it seems really, despite the game kinda ‘wanting’ it to be. It doesn’t help that enemy AI isn’t exactly the brightest.
Your ship’s gear and weapons represent the only progression you’ll get – there are no skill trees, no passive / active abilities, no traits (that’s why I said the RPG component is lackluster!). As you plow through bandits, military and complete quests, you’ll be able to buy or find better hulls, components, guns and so forth – making you able to withstand more punishment and deal with stronger foes – which does feel rewarding. It’s straightforward, with no limitations as to what you may or may not equip, as long as you have the space for it – no stat requirements or anything such.
Dialogues & Roleplaying Component
While dialogues are extensive and rather elaborate (despite mostly linear), the same can’t be said about the actual roleplaying. Jeb may choose to deal with situations in one way or another, sure, such as by sparing or killing a character, or solving problems in a more diplomatic manner (often resulting in Karma Tokens being earned), opposite to Infamy Tokens, awarded for actions considered ‘evil’. The metric upon which this is determined is not always the best, as a few times a clearly good action awarded Infamy, and vice-versa, for apparently no reason.
What hurts more, perhaps Age of Grit’s worst problem, is that no matter how famous (or infamous) you become, people will react to you in the same way regardless, this won’t bar you from any quest or anything else – as it often is the case in RPG sporting a morality system. The dialogue choices often lead to the same conclusion, and give only a fake sense of choice that isn’t really there.