RPGs are a dying breed, memorable ones eclipsing jewels like Witcher 3 or BioWare’s Dragon Age even more so. A while back we got an unexpected addition to the genre, Greedfall. Developed by a relatively lesser-known French Studio, Spiders, it’s an attempt to create a grand role-playing game having the same caliber as that of CD Projekt Red’s signature title.
If you’ve been asking for a Witcher 4 or found BioWare’s recent titles too superficial to your liking, then Greedfall is targeted specifically towards gamers you. But how does it compare to modern heavy-weights like Witcher, Skyrim, Dragon Age or even Mass Effect? Let’s find out!
Greedfall starts off in city resembling pre-renaissance Europe going by the name of Serene. The player character, de Sarde is the nephew of the ruling prince and has made quite a name for himself, unlike his cousin who tends to find himself in sticky situations more often than he’d prefer. The setting changes from medieval to an untamed Wild-Westesque, rife with unsolved mysteries as de Sarde and Constantine (his cousin) set on a voyage to the mystical island of Teer Fradee, hoping to find a cure for the Malachor, a deadly disease that claims thousands of lives every year.
The game adopts a faction system similar to traditional RPGs like Baldur’s Gate and their more recent successors including Pillars and Divinity: Original Sin. There are six factions, three representing the ruling states, then there are the Nauts (sailors) and lastly the natives of Teer Fradee.
Essentially each of these factions represents a specific ideology, with the Congregation being a community of merchants who take a liberal stand, the Bridge Alliance being composed of supposedly forward-thinking scholars and academicians, Theleme being similar to the Spanish Inquisition, full of zealots and the “enlightened”. The Locals stick to the “We come from the earth and will return to her” kind of thinking and the Nauts honestly, seem to lack any distinguishing characteristics other than the face tattoos.
Story and Player Choice
As far as player choice is concerned, Greedfall takes a simple approach that manifests in a complex form. Most routes for each quest are identical but the execution varies, you can resolve any particular situation with diplomacy, violence or simply by bribing your opponent.
Certain main quests and companion missions, of course, can have completely different outcomes, depending on the choices you make but these are few and far apart. Compared to contemporary Open-World standards, Greedfall’s quest design shines.
Each and every quest right from minor side quests to companion entrusted tasks are individually crafted and require a good deal of “looking around some”. In most such scenarios, you’ll be going between person A to person B and figure out a particular mystery and then resolve it the way you see fit.
Don’t worry, this isn’t a walking simulator, but conversations will take up a good deal of your playtime as they are present in almost every activity. Other than XP and rewards, these often grant you a reputation boost or a negative rapport if you were naughty. All in all, the questline seems fragile at times, but despite that, the ceiling doesn’t cave in and manages to hold its own.
Greedfall features five companions, one from each faction on Teer Fradee. This throws even more variables into the equation as you’ve to consider their opinion as well when you’re dealing with their respective group, or they might start fostering personal propaganda against you which can have unpleasant outcomes.
On the plus side, this means that you can also resolve conflicts with factions without violence even if you aren’t well versed in the art of conversation. This (as you probably expected) requires the comrade in question to be with you in the party at the time of the encounter, and on your command, they’ll intervene and try to smooth things over.
Each companion in Greedfall has their own distinct story and objective which tie in with their quests, usually a string of missions that take place over the course of the main game and fill in some major holes in the plotline. These tend to be one whole story broken down into smaller quests to improve the playtime as well as keep the players’ interest piqued.
Combat and Gameplay
Critics and fans have had a mixed response to Greedfall’s combat. While some called it shallow and flawed, the rest seemed to enjoy it. In my opinion, the combat in itself isn’t bat, however, it’s too simple. There are less than a handful of moves at your disposal in every class. Using the same 3-4 attacks for the entirety of the game gets rather tedious.
Furthermore, I also found the game a bit too easy after you progress through the first few main quests. The beginning, however, was challenging enough and I wouldn’t recommend playing on the hard difficulty at the very first go.
The shortcomings of combat are somewhat made up by the crafting and alchemy system. Armor and weapons can be modified with up to three enhancements from a much larger pool. These usually boost your character attributes such as lockpicking, vigor, etc.
Like every major RPG, Greedfall has three different skill screens. One represents the combat skills, one for attributes and the third one for the skills mentioned above. These can have varying effects on the gameplay ranging from equipment compatibility to special actions and dialogs in conversations.
Visuals and Soundtrack
Greedfall is a beautiful game, rivaling the likes of The Witcher 3. In fact, the characters and environment seem to have been designed using the same art style as that of CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece.
The soundtrack goes well with the theme of the game and compliments the mystical setting. It’s not quite as intricate as other heavyweights in the genre but it manages to pull its weight.
Greedfall: Overall Score
In the end, you can say a thousand things about Greedfall but overall it captures what most games in this space lack. A solid role-playing experience glued together with an immersive player-driven story that manages to impress when least expected. The companions form a major part of the game and the plotline wouldn’t be the same without them. Lastly, though the combat falls short, the skill system and crafting provide enough incentive to keep the momentum going.