It’s a strange time to be playing video games; production quality is higher than ever, but creativity feels like it’s at an all-time low. In the “AAA” market especially, the need for millions in sales to recoup development costs all but ensures most games suffer from genre-creep, offering focus-tested designs that grow stale once the fresh veneer of paint has worn off. In contrast, GreedFall feels like it should have been released at the beginning of this console generation, sharing far more DNA with older RPGs like Dragon Age: Origins, The Witcher 2, and, more recently, ELEX.
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I’m not entirely sure it was by design, but GreedFall has fast become my favourite RPG since The Witcher III; not because it progresses the genre with new or innovative systems, rather because it incorporates a lot of older design choices I love and, in doing so, captures the feel of some the classic RPGs of yore. Developed by Spiders – a studio with a hit-and-miss track record – it’s their most polished and well-designed RPG to date (which I know some might consider a low bar). Built on their in-house Silk Engine, it can’t match the visual prowess of many recent “AAA” titles - and yes, it still carries some of Spiders’ design baggage - but the reliance on tried-and-tested mechanics, elaborate multi-stage quests, and the focus on player choice, all result in a game that feels classic, rather than dated.
The island of Teer Fradee has a more complex history than is first hinted at. Figuring out how De Sardet and the current state of the world is linked to the island forms a big part of the ongoing mystery.
With multiple quest solutions and five potential endings on offer, Greedfall drops you into the male or female boots of a high-ranking diplomat, De Sardet, who belongs to the neutral, commerce-driven, Congregation of Merchants. On the mainland of Gacane, they’re wedged between two warring nations; the religious "Theleme" (with their own fanatical branch of inquisitors) and the scientifically-oriented "Bridge Alliance" (with more than its fair share of ethically questionable researchers). With the continent ravaged by an incurable plague, the “Malichor”, all three nations are attempting to colonise the island of Teer Fradee, looking for a cure and a chance to push their colonial agenda upon the unwilling native population. However, the island is also host to several distinctly continental-looking ruins, and De Sardet clearly has some link to the natives. It’s the perfect setup for a game that involves maintaining diplomatic between several factions and your own companions, while slowly ramping up the impact of your decisions towards the end-game.
From the get-go, GreedFall presents itself as an older-style of RPG, using a well-worn template.
You’re introduced to all the skills, attributes and, talents at your disposal early and will quickly discover how they affect combat, your ability to traverse the world, and your access to unique quest solutions...
The diplomatic element involves maintaining relationships with the several factions - many of whom are in open conflict on the island - relying on your ability to justify your actions, some light betrayal, and plenty of lying.
A day-night cycle can create some striking scenes, while ambient audio and the subdued soundtrack make the world feel alive and enhance the fantasy atmosphere.
Enjoys games with awesome stories and characters, along with new and interesting hardware. Dislikes day-one patches and driver updates.
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Focus Home Interactive
PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
10 September 2019
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