I wasn't sure if this was worthwhile to start a new thread over, but I just re-played through Age of Decadence a couple times (It's only $4.99 right now on the Steam sale, at least in Ameribucks...). Really looking forward to Queen's Wish, but needed something to scratch the itch meanwhile. Anyway, I thought I'd offer a little compare/contrast about what I think Spiderweb does better than Iron Tower (AoD dev), and what Spiderweb could maybe learn from them - or at least where I think AoD shone.
I'll start with what I liked:
-The Stash. I would guess the idea was borrowed from Diablo or such, but it's still a nifty feature in Age of Decadence. You can put stuff in whatever chest throughout the game and it will remain in that chest, but there are very certain ones that are linked. In the major towns, when you buy a room at the Inn, your room will contain a chest that's "My Stash," and if you put something into your stash (in your inn room) in one major town, you can access that same stuff/stash in another major town. It's a nifty feature, and I wouldn't mind seeing that find its way to Spiderweb - let's say, the PC's house, Kriszan, Fort Emergence, Shayder, Lorelei, and Tevrono.
-Attack aiming. With your weapon in AoD, you can go for a regular attack, a body blow, a hit to the legs, a headshot, etc, all with different potential status effects. I guess in Spiderweb games you can do this with skills, but I kind of like the way it works in AoD, and I wouldn't mind seeing something similar as another layer for PCs who were fighting with weapons. You can use a spell, a technique, a skill... or just a plain old normal attack, which you can aim at the torso, or the legs, or head, or whatever. Could be a vehicle for making the skill trees interesting.
-In AoD I kind of enjoyed some of the in-fight commentary from your opponents. LIttle things like "Oh damn, I'm bleeding" or "That'll show you" - and plenty of cursing, though I don't know if I'd want Spidweb to go that far. After all I probably wouldn't have been allowed to play Exile 3 back in the day in that case. I know that select fights in Spiderweb games have "cutscenes", but the banter in everyday fights was a nice little bit of flavor.
-I liked that you could play the game as, essentially, a diplomat (or a smooth-talking scoundrel), and win the game with a body count of zero if you wanted. Not practical in Avernum where you're literally fighting monsters, but it's a fun way to approach political encounters.
-I liked the story and the way that you could have major effects on the world and ending(s) with your decisions, but this is something Spiderweb games deliver in spades too. Still, it makes the game worth a playthrough for someone who's into Spiderweb games for similar reasons.
Here's what I either didn't like, or at least think Spiderweb is clearly better at:
-The camera, oh my goodness. AoD is an isometric game, and so are many Spiderweb games, but the camera in AoD is just horrible. You can get lost in the bad 3D, your view gets obscured very often, there's a high "where the heck am I" factor - and to top it off, there's no minimap. Navigating and following your character break the immersion of an otherwise mostly very good experience.
-I mentioned that I like the stash in AoD, but otherwise, Spidweb has it beat in QoL features. The junk bag (which I suppose is essentially a mobile stash), the multipurpose hotbar, the minimap, the special item inventory, and I'm sure other items I'm not thinking about right now, these are all positives for Spiderweb, and playing a "similar" game that lacked them, made me appreciate them all the more.
-One of my playthroughs I beat the game without even hearing of the antagonist, let alone meeting them. I also would sometimes get dialogue and decision options that referenced people I've never met, or caused me to do things my character should've had no idea about. While I don't necessarily want the story to be railroaded (hi Avadon), I want to at least experience it some. It just felt a little weird occasionally and I can't really elaborate because spoilers.
-Another point where I need to tread carefully because spoilers, but - the endings. There are a wide array of endings you can achieve in the game, but they all feel very abrupt. When I invest a large amount of time into a story game like this, I want to really enjoy the ending. In AoD, you get a 3 or 4 screen slideshow with a few sentences each and then the title screen. It felt abrupt and unsatisfying. Modern Spiderweb games are better at unfolding endings (even if I'm still sad about Avernum 3: Ruined World basically having a "you win" screen... I know it's a remaster but I would've loved a fleshed out ending sequence like the more recent Spiderweb games).
-Speaking of Endings, I would've appreciated a heads up that I was about to enter endgame and needed to go back and tie up anything else I wanted to do, before proceeding. Like you get in Avadon, for instance.
-In AoD, there could be massive chunks of content you could make inaccessible depending on a single dialogue choice. I know you can't see everyting in a Spiderweb game in one run either, but I felt like in AoD there were too many things you could irreversably miss out on by saying one thing or the other, and it's a bigger deal when the world is so much smaller. You could say this is balanced out by the game being shorter to complete but, if you like to play thoroughly it still takes quite a while, and it isn't satisfying to miss out on such a large number of things per playthrough.
-20 year old sprites look better than bad 3D and I have a strengthened understanding/appreciation for your equipment not showing up on your avatar in Spiderweb games. AoD had some nice environments but some ugly characters.
tldr: Age of Decadence scratches the itch and is worth picking up during the sale, but Spiderweb games are still better.