Old, new and borrowed, but definitely not blue…
The role-playing game genre is so over-populated and samey now that finding out about the release of Greedfall didn’t get me particularly excited. Combine that with the fact it’s made by game developer Spiders (not much of a household name) and the announcement just did very little to get my hopes up.
Then I heard people start comparing it to games made by a little old company by the name of Bioware, the studio behind hits like Mass Effect, Dragon Age: Origins and the king of them all, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. Having since played Greedfall, I can safely tell you that these comparisons are well-deserved.
There’s a rich fantasy setting, companion characters you bring along in your three-party sized squad, and even a tactical pause menu that allows you to stop time, have a look around and choose the right ability for that moment. It is a hark back to the RPG style of old, complete with companion loyalty, romance options and of course skill trees and a class system. Oh, let’s not forget the cool hats!
The story takes places on a newly colonised island named Teer Fradee. You play as De Sardet, Legate of the Merchant Congregation tasked with build relations with the natives and the colonies of other nations as well as finding a cure for the mysterious Malichor disease. I won’t go into too much detail, but safe to say it isn’t that easy and you soon find yourself doing a myriad of quests for each faction and juggling their needs with your own personal motivations.
What is nice here is that fetch quests are few and far between – you aren’t finding five flowers for the local florist, or ingredients for a sick boy’s medicine. That’s not to say the quests don’t follow a pattern, but they are lot more in-depth than the generic side quests of old and make a refreshing accompaniment to the main story.
As well as side-quests, there are also companion quests. These help you gain more information about your little band of misfits and get them on your side, but there’s a nice twist here: your companions can betray you. It seems simple enough to say they had their own lives and agendas before they met you, but it’s rarely considered.
Usually their job is to support you through your story, but in Greedfall that isn’t always the case. I won’t say too much on who does what, but it gives companion quests that little extra bit of importance that other games might not always afford them and adds an interesting and refreshing mechanic to the game.
That said, the mechanics elsewhere can be a little rusty. Combat can be clunky with your tactical menu only allowing you control over your actions, rather than those of your party – who can sometimes get in the way. There is also a lack of variety in enemy types and soon find yourself fighting the same enemies a decent amount of the time.
Most notably there is the problem of lip-syncing, which is wildly out. Though it is worth remembering that Spiders is a small studio and there’s hope that this can be fixed with patches and updates, but it is off-putting. If you can get past it, then you are treated to wonderful segments of dialogue, however it is something we’re not used to in modern gaming.
For fans of huge open worlds, Greedfall offers you sections of the island to visit but can feel very linear at times. It’s not a problem if you’re like me and remember Mass Effect or Dragon Age being like this, but in an era populated huge sandbox games this can be a flaw to some. For me, however, it helps Greedfall stand-out from that crowd.
In short, Greedfall is a good old fashioned RPG – rough round the edges and full of charm. It reminds me why I fell in love with gaming in the first place and is a call back to games of yester-year. Definitely worth picking up if you’re a sucker for an old school fantasy adventure.
By Chris King
Feature image credit: Spiders