Developed by Spiders
Published by Focus Home Interactive
Reviewed on PlayStation 4
GreedFall is kind of a strange melting pot of an RPG. It mixes the storytelling and decision making of games like Dragon Age, combat and exploration from Assassin’s Creed. Then, given a nice basting with colonial times flavoring, and seasoned with a light sprinkling of different varieties of magics. From the first screen I was strangely captivated by the the port city of Serene. The game has a strong sense of intrigue. The intrigue is strong throughout even if there are a few technical things that can sometimes dispel the enchantment.
You assume the role of De Sardet, a player avatar who is an ambassador from the capital of Serene. His new calling is seek out those who inhabit Teer Fradee, a large uncharted island rumored to be filled with strange beasts and vast wealth. I was surprised by how creative the character creation screen is. It starts as De Sardet is getting his portrait painted and from here you get to set De Sardet’s features and appearance. It also very cleverly gives you the chance to start by choosing how you will go through the narrative.
Greedfall allows the player to build their version of De Sardet through a series of different skill trees and talents. You can choose to be a fighter, or could take a path of a spell weaver, and even a dexterous path of a gunslinger. The game also provides different branch options that let you interact with the world. This includes things like using your charisma to persuade people to your side, using science to create explosives, or even master the art of lock picking.
Thankfully, you can invest in any of the other trees as well. As you progress you’ll gain experience. Besides your typical stat increase, every few levels you can invest in another talent and another trait. I found these growth options to be painfully hard to choose, not because the process is difficult, but because the world of Teer Fradee has so many possible possibilities that I had to stop and really prioritize. How you handle a mission is also important because as an ambassador you are constantly balancing relationships.
Each faction you deal with, along with the member of your party, all have a relationship with De Sardet. By aiding them, you can curry positive favor with them, forging a stronger relationship. This in turn opens new possibilities in the form of side stories and potential rewards. As I kept playing I was nearly constantly rewarded for fulfilling my missions, especially with my party member. I grew to really enjoy the party, since everyone has very different perspectives on the world. Being able to see each of them open up over time and form stronger bonds not only made combat more fleshed out because of bonuses, but it also helps in exploring. One of GreedFall’s greatest strengths is its depth and rewarding player choice.
There are few things where Spiders did not hit the mark quite as well. It seems for every two steps forward, there the game takes one back. There were times in Greedfall where I just pan the camera around to take everything in. The amount of detail worked into the environment and clothing is rather impressive. There is a lot of great details and each city feels unique. Sadly, not everything is totally original as there is a a lot of copy and pasting going on for building interiors and with some of the NPCs. The music lends itself to the atmosphere quite well in the moment, but I would say is quite forgettable otherwise.
The the writing is surprisingly good. I feel each person of importance is well written and has an air of individuality. In fact, most of the voice acting aids in their characterization. I wish I could say the same for De Sardet, though. Their lines are well written enough and their use of vocabulary and word choice is certainly sharp, but the delivery ends up being flat. One thing that is nearly flawless is the combat system.
GreedFall has some weird performance issues, such as occasional frame drops, clipping, and some NPCs do weird things when they first load in. I never found this to be bothersome, just a bit of disappointing. Combat, however, is excellent. It never became mundane even over 40 odd hours play through. Melee combat, along with a variety of different firearms and magic allows for plenty of opportunities to experiment. I found a two-handed sword and magic combo to be my favorite. Combat has three factors to really focus on: your combat style (swords, axes, maces or gunslinging and magic casting), balance and armor.
Unbalanced enemies are more likely to take multiple hits. Armor is a set gauge for both you and your enemies, and depleting it means you will no longer benefit from what you are wearing. Using heavy weapons like hammers and maces will quickly reduce armor, allowing unrelenting damage. Switching between a heavy weapon to break your enemies armor, and then going crazy with a lighter weapon and dishing out big damage is very satisfying. Teer Fradee is full of human enemies with different weapons and abilities. The diversity of different beasts and monsters you encounter is pretty diverse. Many of the “Guardian” monsters are tough in their own right.
GreedFall is not perfect. It lacks technical polish in places that maybe a couple more months could have fixed. But Spiders have delivered a very enjoyable, well crafted world to explore and a story worth experiencing for its great dialogue and plentiful choices.