Spiders is back with a new ARPG for fans to enjoy that includes swashbuckling, spell throwing, and blasting your enemies away when you aren’t exploring the wilds about you, talking to the natives, and making life-or-death choices. But now we have to ask, does it work or are we stuck with another The Technomancer on our hands?
+Absolutely beautiful settings and stories to experience
+Classes feel unique to one another
+Dialogue options don’t come easy and each one carries their very own weight
+Character customization truly gives a sense of depth to the character
+Each setting feels unique as you explore each area of the island
-Difficulty scaling can be problematic as you explore the world about you
-Dialogue options are locked away rather early based on what perks you choose
-Combat does get frustrating and the difficulty of it can be a bit offputting
Let me be honest: I love Spiders. Their ambition is a one of a kind that allows the team to continually push forward, learning with every game they release, and ultimately releasing a worthwhile title we never knew we had wanted. Among those titles comes a wide array of games to play including Faery, Of Orcs and Men, Mars: War Logs, Bound by Flame, and The Technomancer.
Each of their titles covers a different form of the RPG genre, each delivering their own unique experience, and event heir own-unique stories that they tell. For their latest title, it’s not hard to draw parallel’s between titles such as The Witcher and Dragon Age, giving fans a breath of fresh air in the tactical action-RPG genre.
This time, however, Spiders have changed their approach. They have since delivered a very unique, very fun, but challenging experience in their latest title by the name of Greedfall. Unlike many of today’s RPG titles, Greedfall isn’t one that’s massive in scope, but its focus is rather clear.
Greedfall tells a novel story of both world-building and character development
Spiders didn’t hold back from working hard in order to build their world the best they could. Every story arch, ever small thing you do, is all about exploration, which includes meeting the factions you do throughout your adventures. Unlike others, it doesn’t seek to parrot the games that inspired it.
However, in my earliest hours in the game, it took me a bit to adjust to the changes Spiders have made to the way they write their games, let their experiences unfold before me. One of the biggest ones was that their world is big, in idea, but small in scope. It works in their favor, making every event feel centralized and interconnected in ways many games wouldn’t do before.
Even the companions themselves are a novel addition, each one building up the world around you, and even your characters story itself. One will see you helping one of your companions in rescuing their mother, a captive of an enemy faction, and seeking to free her from her confines.
While this is only scratching the surface, there is plenty going on and in some ways, it does feel like the core story was put on the back burner over the sidequests themselves. That’s not to say the story isn’t good and that your 40+ hour story won’t be enjoyed, because it will be, and it will be filled to the brim with wild and over-the-top adventures.
Your entire adventure, as weird as it sounds, focuses on one aspect that may seem a bit off-the-wall: A disease called malichor, which will remain a central piece to almost every story you experience.
GreedFall could have used a bit of polish
Even with the scope and scall of GreedFall, it’s hard to say it’s not a blast to play nor is it hard to say that you’ll have quite a bit of fun – if you enjoy games like Dragon Age or The Witcher 3. The issue here is some of the graphics and animations that ultimately feel as if they could have been touched upon with another post-release update.
There are moments when it feels like facial animations, map designs, and even secondary items were an afterthought, some remaining muddied, out of focus, and feeling as if they are low-resolution images. Even with its decently well-placed historical accuracies (costumes, seafaring designs, and sense of royalty), it’s hard to understand how some of this managed to get published in the release-build of the game.
Whether or not you can appreciate the idea of exploring a Baroque-inspired period of history as a game, GreedFall won’t disappoint, and as part of your story, expect the European colonization of the world to play a major role, but not as a part of Europe, just consider them as undertones for the overall experience.
As a part of the Congregation of Merchant’s as a member of the De Sardet family, you’ll find yourself moving throughout the world around you, using your family’s prestige to help influence some of the game’s narrative itself. While enjoyable, it feels as if it’s just a bit… Cookie-cutter and forced from time to time, especially when working with the religious peoples called the Thélème.
As GreedFall is an RPG, progression matters, as does gearing as you explore the world
As GreedFall does seem heavily influenced by the world around us, it’s hard to ignore the undertones that do exist, expect themes such as racism, bigotry, and instances such as the Inquisition to play its role. These more direct and powerful elements are massive, they are important, and they seem more powerful than you’d expect as you explore through them.
There are quests where you will negotiate peace between two tribes, finding yourself ultimately being backstabbed, and finding the results of it to be… Less than favorable when the reality of it sets in. You’ll find that some of the villages of the Thélème will work with you while others will work against you, exploiting your kindness and negotiations for their own nefarious or meaningful deeds.
You’ll find that loyalty also plays a role in the overall experience. Some NPCs and A.I. controller allies will respond positively or negatively to your actions, some of them liking your ability to work with tribes as you do, or even against you if you do something they don’t like pertaining to a positive action. It’s a very real touch, one that works rather well and it makes the game more believable than one might expect.
In order to progress, you will complete quests for each of the factions or NPCs, sometimes having to work with the Thélème or local governments in order to move your story in the desired direction. Doing so, as this is an RPG, you can expect to delve into fantasy-esque story elements that include magical entities, ancient tablets, and even staving off fantastical beasts.
Combat, leveling, and skills do play a massive role in your adventurous exploits
Due to just how rich GreedFall is, the experiences are magnificent and hard not to enjoy. Combat, as you would expect, is simple. You’ll unleash both heavy and light attacks when not using the tactical view to unleash powerful abilities or use a potion.
You even choose from class-based archetypes as one would expect: Caster, Hunter, and of course the Warrior. Each one relies more heavily on one stat versus another, depending on how you want to play, and the story you wish to experience.
As combat unfolds, you will find yourself wanting to experiment a bit, augmenting the ability to use different weapon types versus what you are given as a caster, which in my case, saw me learning how to use swords and heavier armor than I had been previously, opting for slightly heavier stats than one might expect from a caster.
The overall experience does change with your completion, allowing you to have a bit more freedom than you were permitted in the beginning and even allowing you to change classes by refunding the points you’ve earned throughout your adventures. Doing this allows for a unique experience where you can build your character as you need, adjust your gear, and even upgrade your weapons to enhance their combat capabilities.
It’s really an “experiment as you go” experience, which is okay, but it could use a bit of refinement in the long run as you will need the gear, the weapons, and the points to accommodate to your experiments.
GreedFall does emphasize upon stat placement
To the unsuspecting, GreedFall isn’t shy about its requirements to experience portions of what Teer Fradee has to offer. You will need to pay attention to your stats, they do influence the game and in many ways. Sometimes you’ll need agility to jump over decent gaps, science to blow up segments of a wall that have been compromised or even a decent charisma in order to negotiate with NPCs.
Some of these NPCs could very well be beneficial to your adventures with the native to the island, Siora, a Thélème adventurer who has requested your aid. You’ll find that, even while being peaceful, that some of your options may hurt allegiances, may require more skill, or may require more than a single skill to help you through your adventures in Teer Fradee.
It can even help you avoid conflicts that may be completely unnecessary, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case and sometimes, and it can ultimately lead to combat that could be a bit more difficult than you would expect it to be.
Difficulty scaling is a bit problematic as is combat itself
One thing that does come off as rather… Problematic is the games RPG trappings that seem to undermine the game almost completely when things do get a bit dicier than you might expect, which is combat altogether. While it is enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, it does come with a few clear-cut issues that I can’t help but continue pointing out since they halted my progress altogether a time or six.
This comes in the form of combat where you can use spells, melee attacks, magical traps, items, and even rifles of your choosing. The issue isn’t that these weapons aren’t effective: It’s making sure they are just affective enough against your enemies you will fight against.
Unfortunately, there is no indicator of whether or not the encounter will be too tough for you or not. You’ll find yourself sometimes going up against creatures you aren’t ready for and the game expects you to be ready for such an occasion. Since combat does work similar to that of Dragon Age and The Witcher 3, you’ll find that animations and responsiveness are of the utmost importance when trying to survive.
GreedFall’s combat can be a bit of a burn
That’s not the case here. You’ll find yourself getting batted around while winding up for a heavy attack, which in turn, sends you tumbling across the map and then having to wait to get back up before being mauled to the ground once again. It’s even hard to know whether or not you should dodge or pary, making these encounters – at times – challenging and almost infuriating while others are a breeze.
Being able to alternate between spells or rifles, makes this a bit easier, allowing you to alternate between the two combat types in order to have some temporary escape from the frustration that will ensue, but there’s another issue. Ensuring that you have the proper amount of healing and support salves is a migraine. Didn’t pick up science? Well, you won’t have very many healing salves.
You mostly need the make them. Sure, you will find them, but they are few and far between. It makes it difficult to explore Teer Fradee when you’re constantly worrying about both your armor and health points at the exact same time. Just note, it’s not necessarily explained in great depth, but magic does bypass armor completely, making it a completely viable option if you have enough magic potions to keep your spells afloat.
It’s just problematic that timing seems to be a major issue from time to time as does delivery on some of the game’s bosses that may take you a few attempts before you get their mechanics down. Even then, they’re tough, and they will require you to use more than just your heavy and light attacks. You’ll need to use your special abilities with L2/LT to really hammer an enemy in when you fill up your Fury gauge.
While it sounds like a mess, it’s just a minor speed bump you’ll overcome with time, just as you did in Dragon Age: Origins when it first launched.
At the end of the day, the shortcomings GreedFall has can be overlooked if you enjoy the experience just enough. The biggest complaint it has is that villains are painted as the villains, not merely men, women, or creatures in pursuit of colonization. They don’t feel natural to the overall ordeal and simply just feel put there to make something go amiss in Teer Fradee.
While I would have loved to seen is a bit more depth in the overall main story of the game, I love GreedFall for what it is – a game that brings to light the issues that arise from colonization. It’s an unabashed look at how colonizers subjugate, control, exploit, and abuse their ability to conquer the natives that they encounter. It’s creative, it’s unique, but it gives the idea that those in our real-world deserve a voice, that they deserve a chance to speak up, and the metaphor is well-designed and one I can respect altogether.
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One
Version Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Release Date: Available Now
Overall, GreedFall is a step in the right direction for Spiders and I hope to see them continue delivering the messages that they do, that they don’t stop being as creative as they are, and venture forth once more unto the breeches of astonishingly well done audiovisual designs.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game for review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.