After the somewhat unremarkable release of The Technomancer, developers Spiders had to come up with a new concept to revitalise their studio. Following similar design principles and mechanics, GreedFall was born as a colonial and native intrigue plot, surrounded by magic, gods and diseases. Seeing a weird combination of Dragon Age 2, Inquisition and The Witcher 3, GreedFall seemingly throws together some of the best but also the worst parts of each inspiration.
In GreedFall you take on the role of De Sardet, a newly appointed legate of the merchant congregation, a neutral party amongst all the factions within the world. Given our new task in a matter of minutes, Sardet must go to a far off island called Teer Fradee (sometimes Tir Fradi) with the aim of finding a cure for a disease that plagues the mainland. Our cousin by our side, and old sword master, we finally land on a new colony far away.
From landing our cousin is put into the position of governor, giving us quests throughout the story, though plenty are centred on finding a cure they also include keeping relations between all factions quite high. Set as your hub, New Serene will be the city you come back to again and again, in a very backtracking manner, enforced even more when quests make you go from the manor to the port, to the manor, to the pub, to the manor, to the quest giver. From little quests that find us helping the colonies and natives, the story moves onto godly matters and that of magic rather than grounded science.
The main story of GreedFall will last you around 15-25 hours or so, with up to 20 more hours of side-content. While the story is quite short, plenty of the side-quests feed into it well enough, though this is more due to the relationship mechanic within the game, changing the outcome of some story segments later down the line. Repeated playthroughs are encouraged with several options at hand during bigger events in the game, as well as setting up Sardet as a pro-colonial or pro-native. There is no sign of new game+ or playing after completion, so you’ll want to do all you can before completing the game.
Playing very close to their previous game, The Technomancer, GreedFall is set up as an action game with RPG tones. You can move around freely during combat, press square for a normal attack and triangle for a kick, dodging with the X button and parrying with circle. There are no extreme combos at play here, just rapidly attacking and dodging attacks. Depending on your ability picks you may also have some spells, traps and items on the directional buttons or R2 and directional buttons and face buttons for 12 shortcuts.
Combat is relatively straightforward, with most enemies having a loop through which your class will define. Humanoids get hit 2-3 times for which you can then parry, or if you have unlocked the stasis spell just use that on all enemies which turns the game into a simple whack-a-monster. Early segments of the game can be quite hard, having to deal with up to 10 enemies at once, though proper skill choice, or just stasis, makes it easier as you level up.
As you defeat foes or complete missions you will gain EXP, which in turns grants you levels. At specific levels you will gain Skill, Attribute or Talent points, each being used to personalise your character. Skills come in the form of unlocking new weapons, improving specific weapon damage as well as unlocking certain attacks like stasis. Attributes improve your damage with weapon sets, like heavy or light, as well as your basic health and mana gauges. Finally, talents give you outside of combat abilities, improving your diplomacy skills, unlocking crafting or traversing the land easier.
Like many other RPG games, GreedFall features a crafting system, though it is very simple and can be ignored for the most part. You can craft attachments for any piece of gear with a slot, alongside traps and quest-related items. However, you can just pay a blacksmith to do all the attachments for you as well as purchase plenty of the traps and quest items. You will require the crafting and science skills for traversal and quests later on, but a simple tunic with +1 in either of those will suit you well enough. The money you save by picking up those talents is also not going to be used too often as I found myself stacked with gold even with buying all my attachments.
Just like their previous titles, Spiders has implemented a relationship system within GreedFall, extending to your reputation with the several factions. Completing several quests for your companions will make them your friends or lovers, granting a bonus to a specific talent while they are with you. The factions’ opinion of you will change quite a bit of their dialogue, as well as their decisions later down the line which is a nice mechanic, some even changing the events later on to put you on different paths. GreedFall is also not afraid to kill your companions if you don’t pay them enough time.
The music in GreedFall is very fitting to the world and setting, with noble-sounding tracks for the cities and more tribal music for the natives. While the game does take a very literal interpretation of history when it comes to the depictions of both, they do have a stark contrast which leads to you always knowing what area you’re in.
While graphics aren’t always the most important thing in games, with plenty of GOTY entries being pixel art, GreedFall falls too short in too many areas here. Plenty of rock faces have little detail in them, writing is blurred on objects, clothing will phase through other pieces of clothing or your character, textures will not load or overlap, the lighting will break on your face or the world itself and models won’t even load before you approach.
Following on with graphical glitches, the AI will sometimes just run around in circles during combat, get stuck on terrain, teleport around, repeat dialogue and even have models float in the air. A more minor annoyance is the spelling and grammar found within dialogue, with both English and American English spellings being used, changing of words or spellings and even some gender misuse with a female lead being called “he”.
The beginning hours of GreedFall setup a wonderful adventure, full of skill checks, diplomacy and choice. Though this is dropped when you reach the 2nd half as choices become less prominent as your past decisions affect the later segments instead of your current actions, skills like lock picking become very rare and the skill checks becoming more of a formality than anything as you can bypass them with money or don’t change the outcome at all.
While the beginning of the game can be quite hard, as you level up and gain new abilities it takes a steady decline towards being too easy on normal. Even setting the game to a harder difficulty didn’t seem to alleviate this much. The main culprit of the change in difficulty is the stasis spell, something you can get with your first level up, in which you can take an opponent out of the fight for 6-28 seconds depending on your stats and gear. Stasis can be used on all foes, making a 3v10 fight a 3v1 fight. This spell can even be used on bosses to make them laughable, though it is limited to 0.5-3 seconds at a time.
Both the quest design and companions feel very cut and paste from either the games’ inspirations or just general RPG tropes. You have the native princess who is set up as the exotic love interest, the war veteran who is your stern friend, a scientist who gets too invested in their crazy research, a devout worshiper who isn’t as crazy as his fellows and a sea captain who is a good guy with a heart of gold. Plenty of quests contain way too much backtracking, to the point that I can easily say a good 1/3 or ¼ of your adventure is just going back and forth.
Overall, GreedFall gets a 6/10, the amount of glitches breaks the immersion too harshly with plenty of designs choices feeling either lazy or unpolished. The main story is interesting but is too full of hands-off moments that make the reputation-affected scenes all the much greater. Setting up a community of helping everyone creates this feeling of comradery, but when it comes to the final boss you’re giving a glimpse of a 6 character fight only to have the protagonist fight alone. As a £43 game, this may be overpriced for the quality therein, with my suggestion to wait for a sale, unless you’re a huge fan of DA.