GreedFall is an open-world RPG developed by Spiders. It is available on Humble Bundle, Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The Humble Bundle link is a referral, I get a small commission if you purchase the game through it. Joseph Pugh conducted this review on a standard Xbox One console.
GreedFall is an ambitious game for Spiders, it drips with the very essence of the love and care that was put into its design. Yet at times its ambition clearly outmatched the available budget and size of the team. It is a very interesting game, however, and easily one of Spiders best yet.
You play as De Sardet. The legate of the Merchant congregation. A phrase you are going to hear frequently. De Sardet is customizable in both appearance and abilities. The character features separate voice actors depending on what you choose. The voice talent in the game is fantastic, this is very important because the game is very dialogue-heavy.
You aren’t an assassin or famed warrior. You are a diplomat and Greedfall leans on this theme heavily. There is combat, but the games face is foremost role-playing, diplomacy and problem-solving. It’s a risky venture, but Greedfall does a stellar job of drawing you into its theme if you are open-minded to the concept.
A De Sardet of your own
You can customize the appearance of De Sardet at the start of the game. But that is only the beginning. As you gain experience, which is mostly done via quests. You will develop De Sardet into your own play-style, not just in terms of combat, but in how you approach other situations. You have a combat-related skill tree that will allow you to increase and alter your ability to use various swords, maces, black powder guns, and even magic.
There is also an attribute tree. These not only affect how well you use certain items, but whether you can equip them at all. Magic rings, guns and weapons tend to have requirements. A powerful blunderbuss might require two or more points in accuracy, a long sword might require points in agility.
Finally, you have talents, these range from Charisma, Intuition, Vigor, Crafting and more. These directly influence how you interact with the world. High charisma grants you an edge in negotiation, kind of important for a diplomat. Science not only allows you to craft potions and ammo yourself, but you can plant bombs to blow open certain walls. Vigor is needed to traverse certain types of obstacles.
How you choose to build De Sardet’s talents will greatly affect how you go about completing quests and what secrets you can access. The trees are open-ended rather than locked by a class. You can build in any direction you wish.
GreedFall and Tir Fradi
After a lengthy start, you will set sail to Tir Fradi, an island inhabited by several factions and the natives. The island is also home to vicious beasts and mysterious ruins. De Sardet’s cousin is the newly appointed governor of the Congregation’s city on Tir Fradi and De Sardet accompanies him to act as legate. You are also there to search for a cure for the malichor, a terrible disease that affects your people.
The island is home to several factions that naturally don’t get along. The Congregation is a kind of neutral party between them. The Bridge Alliance is a faction of science-oriented alchemist’s, they are at war with the native islanders and Theleme, a highly religious faction. The Nauts, are a cadre of sailors. Then there is the Coin Guard who work with the Congregation as security and soldiers.
Your actions influence the relations of these factions, both with each other and yourself. It is difficult to please them all, so you will need to make tough choices. Each faction and most major NPCs you meet have substantial backstories and information you can learn from them. GreedFall does an excellent job of not only making them interesting but actively inflames your desire to learn about them due to your role as a diplomat.
For the most part, the factions are never good nor evil. It depends on your perspective and makes De Sardet’s choices much more difficult. However, one faction very clearly and bluntly establishes itself as villainous early on and I found that disappointing. Its more complicated than just that, but the game is so subtle in most other instances, that the faction in question instantly comes across as wearing a “you should totally hate me sticker” plastered to their faces.
As for the visuals, GreedFall is hit or miss. Facial animations are terrible and the faces are often repeated between NPCs. However, the combat effects look nice and the environments look great. GreedFall has some really breathtaking sights to behold and generally, the environment looks visually attractive wherever you go. Not just in graphical fidelity, but in it’s design.
Questing For Peace
The quest design in GreedFall is phenomenal. While some variation of simple fetch and fight quests are present. Most of them are multifaceted and detailed in terms of story and gameplay approach. Side quests feel like main quests in GreedFall and each one does a great job at pulling the player in.
The talents you have chosen begin to come in to play when your questing. You can brute force approach many things, but that’s rarely the best-case scenario and honestly…you would be kind of missing the point. A lot of quests focus on interaction and dialog with people. Some you can talk down or make an offer. Failing that, some cloak without the dagger can come into play.
You can sneak around, find alternate entrances or even dawn the garb of a particular faction to gain access to what you need. Sometimes crafting skills come into play. Slipping some sleeping pills in a guards drink can prove to be a peaceful resolution. I did, however, find, that some solutions simply fell into my lap without much effort on my part. I never took a point in lock-picking, but more than once I found a key to a locked chest only a few feet away from it. Of course it contained the quest item I needed.
Yet each quest and interaction is so fascinating that you want to see it through. It’s easy to get immersed into the game, but sometimes it runs into a hiccup that will pull you out just as quick. For example, your quest journal doesn’t tell you anything about the difficulty of each quest. I had one quest where I felt a native had been unjustly arrested, as I went to investigate I found they he had been sentenced with no trial and sent to the pits.
This was unacceptable, I’m the legate of the congregation, I won’t let this innocent man fight for his life. I felt a real sense of urgency as I made my way to the pit and when I arrived I was too late, but I had the option of jumping in to fight alongside him. What an awesome character moment! I then found that one of the foes was a much higher level than me. Maybe I could have powered through it, but I realized I wasn’t meant for this quest yet and it pulled me out. Sorry dude, try to stay alive while I gain some levels!
The combat in Greedfall looks and feels solid. You have light and heavy attacks that vary depending on the weapon. You can dodge and parry, use ranged black powder guns and magic. In addition to hit points, characters including yourself and your companions may have armor. Armor absorbs damage and it can be worn down overtime. In particular, blunt weapons specialize in busting armor and magic ignores it completely.
Characters have a balance statistic, and certain attacks can unbalance, stun and even knock foes down. It’s flashy and fast-paced, but also intelligent. You can use a tactical pause at any time to assess the situation, choose a target and fire off an ability. It’s an optional feature, but a nice one. You are usually accompanied by two companions of your choice. You can customize their loadouts but you don’t command them directly, they fight alongside you on their own.
At times the combat with your allies can feel really good. As long as they are up and fighting, they draw the attention of some of the foes and it prevents the usual RPG cluster. I usually never needed to worry about getting stabbed in the back unless my mates went down. More than once I would finish my foe and look over and find someone like Kurt the Coin Guard Captain toe to toe with a baddie, each of them would be parrying, dodging and practically dueling each other. It looked visually nice and kind of evoked a movie feeling. Like when an action scene cuts to the hero and various sidekicks locked in battle. It’s very fluid.
The companions AI falters against beasts however, the same dueling tactics don’t work on them as well. It looks awkward and they go down quite easily. The various combat actions work well together though, put a creature in stasis with magic, set a trap, throw a grenade and blasting another one with your gun is satisfying. Yet sadly, new combat abilities are far and few in-between and the enemy variety is lacking as well.
I played on the highest difficulty setting, but the combat mechanic’s are kind of exploitable and you will have to actively stop yourself from abusing them. You can interrupt nearly any action with a parry, meaning there is little to no risk vs reward in your attacks. Get the timing down and you are pretty much invincible, akin to earlier Assassins Creed games. Stealth is very powerful and enemies in the field kind of stand around statically. More than once I was able to sneak up behind them one by one and stealth kill them each in succession, even when they were beside each other.
Companions, Crafting and Customization
You will meet one companion from each faction, not only do they represent different archetypes in battle, but they will react to what you say and do. Take action against the natives with Siora in your party, and there will be consequences. Your companions also have personal quests you can take on and raising their relationship with you will grant you a talent boon based on the companion. In some cases, this can also lead to romance.
If you take the right talents, you can craft items such as traps, bombs, potions, and ammo. Some gear also have slots, these can be mounted with various upgrades if you have the materials and crafting skill. The system is pretty extensive, allowing you to customize items such as hilts and guards, or straps and similar pieces on armor. These can grant statistical bonuses, or talents while you wear them but most surprisingly is the fact that it alters the visual look of the item.
In fact I was quite impressed with how much the visuals on your character can be altered based on what you wear, the appearance of your companions change too. It’s a nice touch.
GreedFall is a game with a lot of heart, after playing it I really would like to see Spiders obtain a solid budget and expanded team. They have the capability of making something truly great. The games oversized ambition just reveals cracks and fractures. It’s not something I think is because of poor design on behalf of the developers, just constraints on the development itself.
The writing, dialogue, and voice acting are fantastic. GreedFalls world, inhabitants, and questlines are truly interesting and they draw you into the world. The game leans heavy on the diplomatic aspect and generally pulls it off quite well. I never play charismatic characters when given the choice. But in GreedFall I embraced the role and tried to find peaceful solutions wherever possible, when I didn’t. I felt like I had failed.
Even the combat is fun, it just lacks variety in both abilities and enemy types and is easily exploitable. It makes even the hardest difficulty a breeze unless you restrain yourself. The game manages to pull you in so deeply, that when a crack in its mask surfaces, its throbs like a bulbous boil.
If you want to take on the role of a diplomat with a lot of character and dialogue choices, GreedFall is still worth picking up. There is a great world and story here waiting to be explored if you can look past its shortcomings. If your the type of player that skips cut-scenes and dialogue, look elsewhere.
A Review code for GreedFall was provided for Gideon’s Gaming by Focus Home Interactive.
You might also like my Remnant From The Ashes Review.
- Great story, writing and voice overs.
- Deep world and quests that draw you in and make you want to fulfill the role of diplomat.
- Combat is responsive and fun. Tactical pause is a nice option.
- Difficulty settings present.
- Deep customization between skills, talents and crafting.
- Many solutions to most problems.
- GreedFalls environment’s look great and has a few fantastic views.
- To few combat abilities
- Enemy variety is lacking.
- Facial animations are awful and faces are often repeated between NPCs.
- Combat mechanic’s are poorly balanced.
- Solution’s are often obvious, reducing reliance on talents.
- Companion AI is terrible against non human enemies.