Review – Greedfall
Greedfall is hands-down the most ‘BioWare-style’ game that didn’t come out of Edmonton.
The RPG is a blend of the best parts of classic WRPG titles with all-new modern elements that make it something all its own. It’s without a doubt the best game Spiders have turned out – at least so far, and this is the kind of breakthrough title that pushes a developer from “I’ve liked their games” to “I can’t wait for their next game” in the minds of gamers.
As De Sardet, a noble from the Merchant Congregation, gamers are tasked with establishing diplomatic relations with the inhabitants of Teer Fradee.
As you’d expect, this does not go smoothly.
Over the course of 20-40 hours, depending how many of the wealth of sidequests and other content you want to devour, players will explore the island and use a blend of stealth, combat, and diplomacy to approach each situation. I tended more towards battle, favouring ranged attacks over melee, and found the combat system to be very flexible and fun – especially after you’ve leveled up a little to unlock some new skills.
You have full flexibility in how you’d like to create and grow your character, choosing skills from Warrior (heavy weapons and armour), Technical (agility-focused, assassin style), or Mage (wielding ring-based magical abilities) trees. There are also passive skills like Charisma or Science – a personal favourite as it allows you to create medieval C4 to blow up (albeit somewhat selectively) walls standing between you and a place you’d like to get to. The skills system felt a bit like Asheron’s Call, an MMO I played that gave you complete character creation freedom, in that you can create a super powerful character, but could also leave yourself totally unsuited to how you want (or need) to approach an encounter.
After finishing the game I started another run with more of a diplomatic focus, and – given the time I’ve spent with it – it does feel quite a bit different. Being able to talk your way through an encounter that ended in combat on the previous playthrough is an interesting experience – but it’s not as simple as ‘hit persuade and win’ you’ll need to pay attention and know how to pressure the person you’re talking to.
The story flips around a few times, and offers players a world-defining choice at the end that was harder to make than it probably should have been. Excellent dialog and nuanced conversations kept my attention, helped by the voice work, which is very well done. The ‘foreign’ characters have a strange blended accent that’s hard to place – which is, I suppose, entirely the point. Sound effects are good, especially in a pitched battle with several combatants when there’s an avalanche of magical and non-magical sounds from every side. A soundtrack by Olivier Deriviere backs the visuals and, as you’d expect, it’s the highlight of the audio.
This is by far the most expansive (and probably expensive) game that Spiders has ever produced, and it shows. The graphics are stunning, with huge cities and stellar lighting. The creature design is a highlight, though unimportant NPC humans can – at times – look a little similar.
What I liked:
- character creation freedom
- great writing, particularly the dialog
- solid voice acting
- a believable world to explore
- combat-stealth-diplomacy options on quests/encounters
- fun combat
What I didn’t like:
- some minor technical issues
- almost too many sidequests to take in