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GreedFall

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: RPG/Action
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Spiders Games
Release Date: Sept. 10, 2019

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PC Review - 'Greedfall'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 10, 2019 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

The thrill of setting foot on new land, the wonder of an earthly magic, and the lengths to which the mysterious locals will go to defend it...

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Greedfall is set in a fantasy world based on 18th century Europe and America. Players control De Sardet, a custom-created character who works as a diplomat for a merchant's guild. De Sardet is forced set out across the ocean to a new land of Teer Fradee to turn a profit and find the cure for a plague that is overtaking the land and threatening the lives of friends and family. Of course, Teer Fradee (Tir Fradi to the natives) isn't a simple place. The colonists, the natives, and the beasts are all in constant conflict, and it is difficult to navigate the many dangers of the land.

Greedfall's biggest flaw is that its colonialism commentary lacks bite. It consists of basic historical facts and vague cultural stereotypes, and it focuses on singular bad people. The setting is ripe for an interesting plot, but the game doesn't want to get too controversial, so situations are portrayed as crystal clear rather than slightly murky. It inevitably finds an answer where you seek to be the "good guy who finds the best solution," but that doesn't quite fit given the historical context of the story.


A big portion of the problem is that your character's role as diplomat sometimes feels more like set dressing than an actual role. It's interesting when you can take advantage of the fact that you're a diplomat, and the instances lead to some of the more engaging plot points. Other times, you're forced into fights for no clear reason without even an attempt at diplomacy. Likewise, the game is theoretically about a single person who has to work within the confines of their role, but at the same time it's a Bioware-style RPG, so you're inevitably stronger and more important than anyone else in the setting.

Greedfall's story is its primary selling point, and that is why it's disappointing that the narrative is such a mixed bag. When Greedfall is on point, it feels great. The tale forces players into tense situations where they must find a solution that gets them what they want while avoiding disaster. Those moments don't come often enough, and most of the time, it feels like it's trying to mimic the generic Bioware formula. The characters are fun and the dialogue is good, so it will scratch your itch for a Bioware-style experience, but it doesn't go much further than that. In an era of better characters and stories, Greedfall feels undeniably dated.

If you've played an RPG in the past two decades, then you know what game mechanics to expect here. You kill enemies, which grant you experience that you use to invest in various skills or attributes. There are few genuinely interesting investments; most are flat increases to damage or an increased chance to succeed at something. Since I was playing as a diplomat, I invested in conversation- and charisma-focused skills, and that paid off well. I didn't feel any need to experiment with other builds. There weren't any skills that I really wish I'd gotten. Despite the theoretically variable builds, I didn't feel a strong urge to try anything else.


Combat is a fairly standard action-RPG setup. You choose moves, attack, and try to avoid attacks; in general, you can likely pick up how to play within a few moments of starting the game. A particularly nice feature is the Tactical Pause, which lets you pause the game in mid-combat to queue up skills or abilities. I found this helpful when using things like traps or potions because having a quiet moment allowed me to set them up more accurately instead of scrambling while something horrible was eating my face. There's nothing particularly wrong or exceptional with the combat. It's pretty by the book and works well.

If I had one major problem with the combat, it's that magic is infinitely more fun to use than any of the other skills. It felt amazing to warp around while shooting fireballs and being a supermage in an era of tricorns and single-shot rifles. Inevitably, magic was limited enough that I had to fall back on more mundane methods of fighting. This isn't exactly a problem exclusive to Greedfall, but I wish that more focus could be paid to the various options, instead of being relegated to boring melee combat in between the cooler stuff.

There's a lot of content in Greedfall. There are side-quests aplenty, even if the oddity of focusing on side-quests while lives are on the line remains as silly as it does in any other RPG. The main storyline is fairly meaty, and you'll spend a good time going through it (even if you're rushing). It's no Witcher 3, but it feels like a fully featured RPG, which is impressive from such a small studio. In a lot of ways, it feels like a lost Bioware game from the mid-2000s or so. For me, it's reminiscent of Jade Empire and its ilk.


Inevitably, Greedfall can't be expected to look as good as modern AAA titles. It doesn't look bad, but it looks dated. The human character models are awkward, and the environments are often rather bland. The enemies tend to look great, and there are some breathtakingly beautiful areas to explore. The voice acting is solid and does a great job of conveying the characters quickly and easily, and the music is nice, if not superbly memorable. Overall, as long as you're not expecting a AAA-caliber title, you'll be happy.

Greedfall is a tough game to judge. It's neither bad nor great. It comes staggeringly close to greatness in a number of areas, but it just lacks the polish or ambition to go further. If you're looking for a nostalgic trip back to the mid-2000s style of WRPGs, then you'll find a lot to like in Greedfall. It's worth a shot if you're a fan of that style of games. In a year that gave us titles like Disco Elysium, it's difficult to be particularly impressed by something that is merely standard.

Score: 7.0/10



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