The developer/publisher duo of Spiders and Focus Home Interactive are at it again with GreedFall, a brand new RPG set in a fantastical world inspired by 17th century Europe. You play as De Sardet, a member of the Congregation of Merchants and descendent of royalty in search of a cure for malichor, the disease plaguing your homeland.
Choosing your path
When the game opens, we see De Sardet seated on a stool, operating as the muse for a painting; this is our introduction to the character creator. Here, players will design the physical appearance of De Sardet, along with selecting a starting talent and skill. I’ve got to say I was not impressed with the customiser in GreedFall. There weren’t many options to make my character look like me. It’s a tad disappointing that there’s only 1 out of 12 hairstyles fit for a black person in a game launching in 2019, but I digress. Lack of diversity aside, the character creator does a great job of introducing players to the skill tree and progression systems.
The three primary branches of the skill tree are warrior, mage, and technician. Each of which with their own subsidiaries. For example, warriors are proficient with melee weapons and can deal some serious damage. Technicians on the other hand are more conniving, using traps and poisons to get the upper hand in battle. It’s worthy to note that GreedFall doesn’t lock you into any one specific skill tree. You can change paths whenever you like, or balance the abilities to craft your own style.
After allocating your first skill point, you’ll also pick a talent. Talents are essentially perks that allow players to perform certain tasks, and they usually coincide with the primary skill sets. Being a cunning technician, I chose the lockpicking ability as my first talent. I used it to open doors and containers that held coins and other valuables. As you further progress, the amount of skill and talent options add a nuance to gameplay.
Taking to battle
Speaking of gameplay, combat is a core aspect of GreedFall, and there’s a number of ways to approach it, thanks to the aforementioned skills and talents. The real-time combat features a lot of parrying and dodging, and immediately reminded me of The Witcher 3. When fighting enemies, you have to pay attention to their movements in order to properly time your attacks and dodges. When fighting multiple foes at once, you can use the mouse wheel to lock onto different targets. I often found myself accidentally scrolling an extra tick and locking onto the wrong enemy.
When playing GreedFall, players have a fully customizable hotbar, where they can get quick access to items, spells, abilities, and so on. In a game where engagements can get really hairy really fast, I appreciated having my vitals pinned to my number keys.
A privileged hero
De Sardet’s journey begins with him leaving his kingdom for Teer Fradee in search of a cure to Malichor, the plague that’s touched so many in his homeland, including his mother. In fact, De Sardet’s mother is a princess, and they come from a long line of royalty. This gave way to the most fascinating part of GreedFall’s story: a privileged hero. Protagonists in typical fantasy RPG’s tend to be nobodies that come from crummy no-name towns. They go out into the world, beat the odds, and forge their own legacy. It’s an age-old tale that’s so easy to relate to. From the beginning of GreedFall, our protagonist has it all. He’s royal, well known, and hasn’t had to struggle for much in his lifetime. It’s not until he goes out into the open world and experiences life outside of his bubble that his perspective begins to change.
Seeing a character thats comes from a life of privilege get some hard lessons in how things go in the real world is a refreshing plot basis in an RPG, and I wish they had leaned into it even more. The remainder of the story is serviceable, and allows players to make key decisions that can influence the game’s ending.
During De Sardet’s adventure, he meets five NPC’s that can become his loyal companions. These characters will follow you around the world, communicate with you, and aid you in battle. Companions have their own stats, attributes, skills, and relationship levels. This friendship level can raise or lower based on the time you spend with them and how you interact. With each of them having their own unique faction alliances and worldviews, your decisions can have a direct impact on their relationship with you.
Returning to the homeland
Spider’s latest RPG is one that follows a privileged hero on a quest to cure the disease plaguing his people. The combat is solid, borrowing the best elements from some of the more popular games that came before it, such as The Witcher. The story is set on a fresh foundation, although it doesn’t do much to build upon it. The skill tree and list of talents allows for a wide variety of playstyles, even if the character customizer doesn’t offer the same freedom. GreedFall is a good RPG with enough content to keep players exploring and engaged.
This review is based on a digital Steam key provided by the publisher. GreedFall is available now for $49.99 on PS4, XB1, and PC.
- Variety of skill and talent options
- Finely tuned combat
- Compelling characters and relationships
- Lack of diversity in character creator
- Story doesn't capitalize on strong foundation