Here we go then, after putting it off and writing two separate articles about how Greedfall is the hardest game I have ever had to review… Here is my review. Oh boy this has been a journey.
I love the story of Greedfall, I find the story incredibly interesting, if not a little generic at times. Essentially you undertake the role of the protagonist “De Sardet”, who is the Legate of New Serene and cousing to the governor. He/She (He for the rest of the review as my De Sardet was a he) is tasked with representing the Congregation of Merchants in the new world of “America”, or rather known in Greedfall as Teer Fradee.
His main reason for going to the new world is that he is on a mission to find a cure for a mysterious plague that is ravaging his homeland, killing (I assume) his close relative (I honestly don’t remember if it was his aunt, or his mother) in the early moments of the game.
For the first 20 odd hours of the game, I totally abandoned this main quest however, opting instead to learn more about the game’s characters and world. Spending hours on loyalty quests or simply exploring the world around me.
This is where Greedfall can shine head and shoulders above so many games I have played recently. The characters and world have been so fantastically written that I found myself, for the first time in years, simply dying to know everything the game had to offer and exploring every nook and cranny of each of the cities, camps and open world exploration areas for nuggets of information the game could give me.
I could write for ages on how much I love the characters of Greedfall and the world, but I touched so heavily on this in my previous two pieces of the game, you might as well just read this here and here.
It’s such a shame then, that the general feel and gameplay of Greedfall really lets the game down. Every battle for the first 10 hours of the game just felt incredibly bland and clunky, having me simply mash Square until the enemies died; more often than not by the time I chipped away at the one enemy I was killing, my party had wiped out a good 10 other enemies. I’m not sure if this says more about my skill than it says about the game, however…
I will readily admit that after a few hours with it though the combat DOES in fact get a whole ton better, with spells and more in depth gunplay being utilised to great effect, especially on some of the game’s tougher foes. One thing that Greedfall does absolutely fantastically (After the enemies get a bit tougher) is have De Sardine equipped with two different melee weapons. One of these is used as a simple blunt item (My Hammer of choice was “Hammer of the Lost God”) which would be utilised to chip away at a person or monster’s armour, essentially making them more susceptible to damaging attacks on their HP. You then switch out for the Sword of your choice and basically “Stick em with the pointy end” until they die. I loved this approach to combat, and whilst it took the game quite a while to realise this potential and force me to use my whole arsenal to kill the nasties, it’s a mechanic that works so satisfyingly in the later hours of the game, forcing the player to think about every fight.
Spells are something that’s used really nicely as well, I essentially only use the stasis ability – which does exactly what it says on the tin – buying myself those precious seconds to knock down the enemies armour that extra bit or drink a potion has saved me from death more than once. One additional thing of note here is a few times it was satisfying as hell when a human enemy was mid spellcasting, or whirling swords around threatening me and I just “Indiana Jones’d” it and shot them in the face. Hilarious. Every. Time.
Character progression is taken right out of the western RPG playbook, every level you progress you are given a Skill point that can be used to increase damage of pistols or swords. Every 3 levels you get an Attribute which can be used to increase your level of Lockpicking or Charm etc; then every 4 levels you gain a Talent point which is used to increase things like “Aim” or “Strength”, which allows De Sardet to equip certain weaponry and armour depending on how many points you have sunk into the specific section of the respective skill trees.
I like this a lot as it forces me to really think about where I am putting my points to develop the character. However, there are certain pieces of equipment that can bolster talents and Attributes by a point or two if the player is really in a pinch. The only thing I found lacking in this respect is the inability to utilise these skill trees to build my party in such ways that I see fit.
Greedfall looks and sounds like the game was initially going to be made for the PS3, and whilst to me a game’s graphics don’t matter a huge deal when the world and story are this fantastic, it does bear commenting on this late in a generation.
I found that more often than not, the lip syncing of the character’s dialogue would be completely out of sync which would ruin large portions of the immersion of the game for me. This was a shame as it would usually come up just as I was getting really into feeling like I was a part of the game’s world… But would be torn right out by something that felt like a badly dubbed martial arts flick. It’s not a big issue by any stretch of the imagination but is certainly something that could do with a little extra polish.
If I was able to judge Greedfall on it’s story, world building and characters alone, I would happily sit here and put it with the best that Bioware has ever offered us and easily give the game a 9. However, clunky combat that I just absolutely hated really hampered the first 12 hours of the game for me. Whilst I will readily admit that with new abilities and powers the gameplay does get leaps and bounds better, getting past this first stretch will be too much of a slog for many people. With this in mind however; I will happily sit here and give the game an 8/10.
World building and characters are the main reason I play video games nowadays, and for this Greedfall is everything I loved about PS3 era RPG’s, I can even forgive some clunky gameplay and wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone itching for a good RPG that will keep you up until 3am, if you have the patience to get past the game’s shaky beginnings.