The last title from developer Spiders Interactive, The Technomancer, wasn’t received all that well back in June 2016 and although I did enjoy it a bit, there were some clear issues with the game. Now, over three later, CreedFall has been released and in my first few hours with the game, it seemed daunting, foreign and, to be frank, a bit boring. GreedFall, however, is a massive, true RPG experience and after over 40 hours with the game, I can say with certainty that the developer and publisher Focus Home Interactive has struck gold with this awesome new IP.
GreedFall Launch Trailer
GreekFall burrowed its roots into me after a bit of a slow start and now, I plan on starting my second playthrough. If I had to describe the game in one sentence, it would be that GreedFall feels like a mixture of The Witcher 3 and Dragon Age: Inquisition, filled with political intrigue, robust and deep RPG systems and player choice that affects which of the handful of different endings you can unlock.
It was the voyage through over 40 hours of content that made me realise just how good GreedFall is, so let’s start from the beginning. You are tasked with creating your character and picking from basic RPG classes and a look, including your gender, but your role has already been predetermined as De Sardet, a nobleman functioning as a diplomat for the Merchant Congregation, one of the six diverse factions in the game.
GreedFall plays off in a fictional 1700s and it is filled not only with swords, axes and a few guns but also with different types of magic, alchemy and science. This type of fantasy world, at first, felt like it had a bit of an identity crisis and I wasn’t convinced that it would all work together. I was wrong and I realised this after an introduction on the mainland that lasted roughly four hours and then shipping off to the game’s true setting, the island of Teer Fradee.
This island is dubbed as a new hope for De Sardet’s people and his cousin happens to become the governor of New Serene. You ship off with your cousin in the hopes of bringing stability to the island and shape its geopolitical nature, but there’s also another immensely pressing matter. The island might hold the key to a cure for The Malichor, a deadly and frightening disease that is ravaging the mainland.
It is on this island that I learned just how deep the game’s RPG systems and the story runs. It feels a bit complicated at times with all the politics involved, but that quickly became one of my favourite aspects of the story as I went on political missions to try and maintain the peace between various factions, including the natives of the island. I won’t spoil the story for you, but know that it had me on the edge of my seat through its politics, betrayals, devastating outcomes and those small moments of bliss I could find on the island thanks to building relationships with my companions.
The game also touches on tough topics, such as people with different beliefs seeing others as threats and outsiders or anything foreign as wrong, something we know a little bit about here in South Africa. There are some sensitive topics and it is something that the developers don’t shy away from, but rather, give players an option to choose how things play out through their actions.
Then, there are also companions, each with their own personalities that you can either build a relationship with or tick off to the point where you might lose one, or even become entwined in a relationship with, including a native called Siora, a mercenary from the Coin Guard faction called Kurt and more. Basically, one for each faction in the game which made things very rough on me.
The reason for this is that you simply can’t keep everyone happy and therefore, the game threw some difficult choices my way. These difficult situations for my Mage type class with high charisma could be defused if handled correctly and sometimes I went with my heart instead of what I thought would be the perfect outcome. It isn’t often when a game throws choices at you in such a way that you really struggle with them and as I finished my first playthrough, I couldn’t help but wonder if I made the right choices.
I’ve talked a lot about the story so far without really spoiling anything but I hope you can see that it is both complicated yet intriguing and will give you a lot of options to choose from. It depends not only on what companions you take with you on a certain quest but also what skills you have chosen to level up. For example, charisma helped me convince others or talk my way out of escalating situations, while intuition not only helped me see items that I could interact with but also to read the room and use the specifics of what was going on as a conversation option.
This brings me to character development and combat. First of all, you complete missions and kill both humanoid and beasts to level up, as is standard for an RPG. However, GreedFall allows you to play just about any way you want to after the initial character creation. I, for example, went with a mage at the start, using shadow magic and high charisma to talk my way out of some situations. Then, I went into the endurance skill to wear better armour (of different qualities that you can also upgrade with the Craft skill) and weapons.
Then, I went for some points into vigour so I could climb up higher, inaccessible areas, walked over logs and more. That wasn’t enough, however, as I dropped a few points into the Science attribute to allow me to blast open doors, rocks and more, craft alchemy options from your standard health and mana potions to potions that cure poison, up your balance (a stat on armour that helps you to not get knocked down) and a plethora other items.
To say that the crafting, alchemy as well as skill system is deep is an understatement, as there are over 80 skills for you to choose from as you progress in the game, from laying traps to sending out shockwaves of magic to stun and knockdown your foes.
You have to combine these skills, attributes and item choices to create a character that you feel comfortable playing with, but that’s not all. You have two companions with you and these companions also need items, so you have to kit them out with some shiny new gear tailored towards their class and statistics. These compansions matter more than I first thought they did and I grew attached to them so it was hard to leave one behind as I set off on a mission where I knew another’s skills would come in handy.
I’ve already mentioned that the island of Teer Fradee and it is massive, but it isn’t an open world. Instead, you explore several cities and towns, each with their own unique culture. You also have open areas outside the cities to explore, leading to interesting quests as you rummage through every last crate for more supplies. Travelling is also made easy as you can fast travel to every location you have unlocked and set up camp in multiple areas of each region. This helped a lot since the game does not have mounts for you to use, but it never felt like a chore heading to the next quest location.
Speaking of a chore, GreedFall doesn’t have any traditional fetch quests and almost nothing felt like filler content. Instead, every quest felt like it furthered the story in one way or another. For example, at one point, I was investigating the natives since some narrowminded NPCs though that their rituals were demonic in nature.
After my investigation, with some puzzles that you will only be able to complete if you pay attention to the lore, I went back to these narrow-minded individuals and shut their whole operation down, further gaining a better reputation with the natives, which in turn opened up more options with one of my companions.
One early example of how much choice GreedFall gives the player when completing just about every quest in the game is where I had to infiltrate a warehouse. I could choose to disguise myself to look around the warehouse, stealth my way around NPCs (or kill them but lose reputation with the Naut faction) or head to a brothel. At the brothel, I could convince someone to spike the warehouse guards’ drinks they would get later that night with sleeping pills, which I crafted using my science/alchemy skills. I could also just bribe someone to slip those pills into the drinks. It was up to me to decide and if one of my attempts failed, I could always go with another approach.
There’s also the combat aspect and even though the choice and consequence system outshines it, the combat isn’t half bad. It does feel a bit clunky at times as you move around and dodge attacks hit enemies and try to switch weapons all while drinking potions and juggling several skills. There’s a tactical pause system in place that helps with this, but I didn’t use it all that much as I liked staying in the action. Thankfully, your companions fight on their own so you don’t have to control them at all, making things a bit easier.
Boss fights, especially, provide quite the challenge even on normal difficulty mode (there’s easy, normal, hard and extreme) and you have to stay aware of the boss skills, for example swooping down on you from above or casting area of effect fire spells. This is where companions fail a bit as they just stand in the fire taking damage.
Overall, however, some minor issues with the combat and companion AI didn’t take anything away from the experience as I built my character to withstand a lot of damage while dishing out armour-destroying attacks, casting spells to freeze enemies and more.
The combat isn’t as satisfying as, for example, the Soulsborne games, but it delivers enough variety to keep things interesting. I would have just loved if the game had more enemy types, as you will be fighting less than a dozen beast types and a whole lot of humanoids for over 20 hours into the game. Sure, there are some differences in each type and there are some strange, unique creatures, but there was not enough variety for a game that lasts over 40 hours in my opinion.
There are also some technical issues with GreedFall that are hard to overlook. First up, the game froze roughly seven times while loading into a new area, but thankfully, I didn’t lose any progress. When the last enemy falls after combat, you can’t instantly start looting corpses, as pressing “X” on the PS4 also means dodging and the game takes a while to register that combat is over, resulting in me dodging over corpses that I wanted to loot.
Further, when you get to a section where you can climb over a ridge, sometimes, your companions block the action and a silly animation takes place where you simply can’t get up there unless you run back so your companions follow you, then quickly back to the ridge you want to climb. Lastly, in terms of framerate, I did notice a few FPS drops on my PS4 Pro but thankfully, this happened rarely.
On the game design aspects of GreedFall, there are a few annoying issues. The inventory system, especially when moving through your main character and companions, is a bit clunky when using the directional keys of the controller. Further, every time you fast travel to another location, you get transported to a half-way point camp.
Then, you have to run to the end of the camp to continue to your actual destination. This could be a good design choice in some ways, as it allows you to craft items or talk to companions while you wait for the level to load. However, it gets annoying when you’ve just done all that at a city and try to simply travel to the next one.
Even with a few technical issues, the game looks beautiful and the environments, especially at night, come to life with some fantastic lighting effects, combined with fog and skills it creates a beautiful sight to behold. There’s also a tonne of detail in cities, from inhabitants going about their daily business to paintings hanging from walls or drawn by natives on rocks, all telling a story of their own.
Every conversation in GreedFall is also voice-acted and it is more than just decent, with some characters, especially your companions and De Sardet (male or female) delivering great performances. At first, all the slang and the game’s lore might seem a bit foreign, but after a dozen hours, I felt right at home on Teer Fradee.
GreedFall is a rough gem of an RPG that takes a while to get into. When you’ve played the game for a few hours, however, you won’t want to put it down and even when you finish the story, there’s a good reason to go back and make different choices and get a different ending. It took me over 40 hours to complete the game once and I didn’t do everything and also regretting some of my choices along the way.
The game has so many interesting plot points, from betrayals to political missions and fantasy elements that it will keep you on the edge of your seat. GreedFall isn’t perfect as there are some technical flaws. These flaws, however, can get patched out and they are nothing too serious or game-breaking. The RPG systems at play here are so robust and deep that RPG fans simply shouldn’t miss out on the game, even if the combat feels a bit clunky at times, the voyage to Teer Fradee was well worth it for me in the end. Keep in mind that this game from Spiders Interactive costs a bit less than your standard AAA title, so it is definitely a bargain with the amount of content it provides.
This GreedFall review was based on a code sent to us by Focus Home Interactive
Available On: PC, PS4 and Xbox One | Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 10 September 2019 | Price: R779
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