GreedFall Review

 

Not All That Shine Is Made Out Of Gold .

Read Time 10 minutes
A sunny shot of the game GreedFall, with large creatures flying in the sky, and three characters ready to fight at the bottom of the picture
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Alright, serious question now — am I weird for thinking of RPGs as if it was just like cooking food? Way I see it, there is always a perfect balance of ingredients and how much needs to go into the pan to make a recipe that is so delicious, we can't help but be disappointed by every other meal that gets put onto the table afterwards. Some don't know how to hold their hands, going carelessly above the recommendable amount of seasoning, creating true monstrosities where you often don't even know where to start/look at, while others are more conservative, often creating a tasteless or even bland recipe that barely deserves to be swallowed, let alone praised as 'fulfilling'. To me, GreedFall sits about in the middle of these two extremes, striking it right with presentation, while failing to deliver when it comes to flavoring, or the actual taste of the plate.

 ...For when words don't suffice, always have a handgun at ready, just in case... 

It is a more or less okay-ish story-driven singleplayer RPG that tries to hit gold on multiple fronts, but sadly this comes at the tradeoff of not a single one of its major features being massively appealing to the gut. As such, this is also a game that, despite not living up to the fullest of my expectations, it still remained incredibly fun to explore nonetheless. Its tale tells us the story of De Sardet, legate of The Congregation of Merchants, and cousin to the newly elected governor of New Serene, a port city localized at the heart of Teer Fradee, an island far away from the continent, and one that could potentially hold a cure for the sickness that has been afflicting the people back at our character's homeland.

Not minutes into the game we are forced into a reality of struggle, as even in nobility, there is so much calamity going on right at our doorstep, that trying to run away to meet our political obligations elsewhere as soon as possible seems kind of justified. So, just like that, we set sail into the sunset, going in on an adventure to find in the natural riches of that long-hidden soil all the glory a so-called island of miracles could hold. Prosperity is several steps closer, but that is not without any challenges, for this ancient land is teeming with dangerous creatures, as well as various tribes of natives who fiercely fight to protect their customs and beliefs, and are quite aggressive when it comes to doing so.

The malichor is a deadly, hyper-aggressive disease that leaves scary root-like scars all over the body of its hosts. Finding a cure for it is a secondary objective in our mission on the island of Teer Fradee.

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This is a game of intrigues, adventure, exploration, and lots of running around delivering messages like a poor courier boy, that on the side also treats of deeply obtuse topics as it does begging your parents for lunch money: with surprising ease of access for even flat-headed folk like myself — which is definitely a plus. In brief, this is a decently sized game that comes with numerous quests as well as side objectives that is pretty tame when compared to some of the other major titles in the role-playing industry, but one that still managed to hold itself up high, mostly due to its surprising dedication to world-building and lore.

 

Politics, religion, and colonialism are all fairly common topics in the morally ambiguous world of GreedFall. It brings flavor and substance to the game, at the same time it makes lacking parts of it, usually long drawn conversations, that much more interesting to sit through.

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In Bravery, For Glory And Conquest: Our Lost Home Sings To Us .
 

Cover image of the game GreedFall
ESRB E rating, for everyone

Developer: Spiders

Publisher: Focus Home

Release Date: September 10, 2019

Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PS4

Buying the game from the link above is a great way to support the site.

To expand a little bit upon my previous claims, while I do believe GreedFall to be a sufficiently great game as is, there were still far too many underlying deficiencies in it, that for me to come here to recommend you try to eat the cake with not a hint of caution would be nothing short of misleading. Although it for sure has close to all of the basic elements of a pristine RPG checked right out of the list, the issues that are associated with poorly implementing them simply weren't fully eradicated, even after additional content packages were added into the game years after its initial release.

From what I could gather, a janky combat system straight into a lukewarm story were the two most controversial issues of the bunch, and that's barely scratching the surface. Personally, what irked me the most, aside from the funkiest skill tree I've seen in the longest while was that, after you leave the tutorial area and reach the island of Teer Fradee, where the story really starts to pick up, about 1-2 hours into the game, you’d already see at least about 80% of what it has to offer, uniqueness wise. The variety it has in display is very limited, and that’s a seriously big deal for a game that for some reason wanted to push for a longer equals better type of play-show, whereas a smaller, more tightly packed world would have definitely been the way to go.

Truth be told, there is no denying that GreedFall is a heavily flawed game, but unlike others, it at least has some redeemable features to accompany its imperfections. For instance, if visuals alone were a good enough metric to evaluate whether or not a game is worth our time, I'd probably give it a straight 9.5/10, and this is while being aware of its numerous defects. The cinematic setting, the lighting, the colors, all work extremely well together, and apart from a few complaints I have, such as film-grain and motion blur you can’t really turn off, the visuals in this game are seriously no joke.

A non-intrusive UI, a compass at the top of the screen, as well as a journal bustling with objectives are some of the most notable ways GreedFall tries to enforce its identity as a non-makeshift RPG.

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A non-intrusive UI, a compass at the top of the screen, as well as a journal bustling with objectives are some of the most notable ways GreedFall tries to enforce its identity as a non-makeshift RPG.

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Good looking, clean of unnecessary clutter and straightforward enough as to keep me from alt tabbing every half minute that passes, the skill tree in GreedFall was pleasant surprise, for the most part, that is. Other than the discomfort that comes with having to spend points in unnecessary perks to attain the talents you

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really need (1-H is basically a requirement for 2-H), you also run out of options to pick and choose from far earlier than what I would consider acceptable, given the scope of the game.

A dark, humid alleyway from the game GreedFall, featuring tall medieval buildings, and masked plague doctors in the distance

With one of the best and most stunningly beautiful starting areas I've ever seen in a video game before, this is probably the dream scenario for a developer trying to set expectations.

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Walking through the web of alleyways in the very first city was something else entirely. The architecture of the houses, the sun bathing the streets with its invigorating yellow glow, and all that contrasted by the suffering and misery of those afflicted by the plague... A beautiful city stained by disgrace and decadence.

And if you're the type to not be persuaded by appearance/looks alone, then fret not, for beyond being a pretty sturgeon, GreedFall actually has something else going for it besides just "try to look good in the picture, Jimmy", which seems to me more like a way to lure in newcomers more than anything else. One such example is that while running around, you'll soon notice that there's no energy bar — a godsend in a world with so many large, open areas that would be too time-consuming to explore if we had to wait for our stamina to regenerate every five or so seconds. These various quality of life features are what makes the game such a beloved title for many in the community, and understandably so, as for something to be immersive, it doesn't always need to be realistic.

Another thing I really liked was how well the narrative played, as for some odd reason I got super invested with some of the characters and their backstories. Albeit a little robotic, with expressions that wouldn't normally fit a human being, their acting still felt genuine, giving out a somewhat convincing performance despite the aforementioned problems. Being the center piece in a volatile, rapidly changing environment, we get to interact with a number just shy of a hundred people, and to make most of these NPCs fully interactable with more than one or two lines of dialog sure do take a lot of effort.

In case you haven't noticed, this is a journey full of highs and lows, with times you'll feel like giving up, but with persistence paying off as nicely as you could ever hope. Regardless of what I have to say, this is a game where some will love it to death, while others won't even get past kissing their mother goodbye (not a joke, btw) before the long departure. Underrepresented in many ways, this will be an interesting review I'd love to have you stick around, to maybe acquire a taste, and then find out whether or not this is meant to be for you after all.

 

Companions make a pretty big part of adventuring in GreedFall. As useless as they are in combat, you'd think their storylines wouldn't be up to par with their... mild annoyance... But surprise, surprise, it turns out that having to babysit them for over 20 hours

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was kinda worth it, if only just to see the outcome of their personal quests.

A Beacon Of Hope In Trying Times: We Gon' Have It Our Way .
 

One funny aspect of GreedFall is that many of the major conflicts between factions can be avoided by simply talking your, or someone else's way out of trouble, through a skill we can obtain as soon as we reach character creation, seconds into the game. For context, in being part of the upperclass ourselves, we are sure to be born with a gift that allows us to read a person's thoughts like a book, so it makes sense to know exactly which answer will trigger a response that is sure to be in our favor. Maybe its the wind, I don't know — either that or we simply have a way with the words; whichever one of these two options you prefer to believe, this is a game where succeeding in negotiations should take as much effort as pressing a couple of buttons on the screen.

 

Neighbors by chance, rivals by choice, the groups inhabiting the island of Teer Fradee are there only for their own, personal gain, and nothing else. They'll gladly tolerate each other's presence, so long as their precious progress isn't disrupted by the hands of a 

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member from an opposing group.

All of the ironies aside, while moving through the game with no real impediment might sound great at first, having so much raw potential contained within such a cheap skill can severely hinder the enjoyment one finds in speccing their characters into, well, quite literally anything else. From lowering the price of merchants to increasing the usefulness of companions (and being the single skill that make the most sense lore-wise), charisma makes it so that there is very little reason for not going the route where your character is the guy who does talking as sort of his specialty. And with how important dialogue is, coming from the perspective that YOU ARE the guy who does most of the talking, being an unstoppable machine of word spewing from the prophecies is a crazy useful ability to have, period.

This might be a little unrelated, but being a spokesperson for a nation as big as the one we represent should come with responsibilities... responsibilities that lead to decisions, and how we choose to handle those same decisions can often impact our reputation, either positively or negatively with some of the major groups governing Teer Fradee, and in those situations, you'd think it useful to remain impartial to achieve the best, most desirable results. For this purpose alone, since I, myself, am oddly enough allergic to making good decisions, it's always useful to carry something else, preferably a handgun, for when things do end up going south.

The main character of the game GreedFall facing a large fictional creature head on with a pistol in hand, ready to shoot the attacking creature
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Marksman, mage, warrior of the legends — these are the main combat-specific classes available for selection, and the good news is that you can quite literally choose to be pretty much whatever you want, even a mish mash of all three combined, so long as you stay within the bounds imposed by those same archetypes.

Even if tiring at times, there is no better way of feeling like the main character in a video game other than being the one dude carrying the whole team in every kind of situation.

Reputation is the measurement of your current standing with any given faction, companion, and any one of the romanceable characters. It is more or less a reflection of our ability to navigate conversations, and to bring to surface the good of bad situations. A good rule of 

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thumb to not have it be lowered is to never take any dialog option that would sound bad if said in real life.

Now, if you'll excuse me a moment, not to brag or anything, but my De Sardet was a beast, and I mean seriously. Think of a diplomat who's more into convincing people through means of intimidation and slicing the unsuspecting in half than in spending time in his office, doing the paperwork a normal man of the law would. Able-bodied enough to go adventuring into the wilds on his own, wielding an axe, casting spells like crazy, and also being able to shoot a pistol, should the necessities arise, we are more of a hired thug than the good samaritan we are meant to be. If all of this sounds a bit off-character to you, then congrats, because I felt about the exact same way when I saw that I could just sneak behind a man and slaughter him in broad daylight with no further consequences to the mantle we carry.

In other words, having a supposed diplomat that won't hesitate to cheat, bribe, and even kill for their own benefit whenever they want doesn't bode well with the figure of an apparently caring member of the higher society, don't you think? But, despite what I just said, while going for the playstyle of an unhinged madman won't make you miss out on a lot, the debenefits of going for that route far outweigh the positives, in my opinion, so, unless you're already on your second/third playthrough, I'd be very much against slapping that "screw it all" feature as early as it gets available.

Many confrontations are unavoidable, often leading to tensed situations that are impossible to de-escalate. NPCs will sometimes disobey your commands, going so far as to ignore orders that could easily get them throw into prison. In those cases, it is really best that you

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are ready to pull the trigger at all times, for you never know who will be the next to challenge your will.

With both a huge discrepancy between skills and no lasting consequences to our terrific decision-making ability, this is a game where you are a king of your own destiny... that is until you find out that there is only one correct way to play the game, and you are basically forced into it. In general, since there isn't much else to say, here goes an advice free of charge: please, don't be like me and try to avoid looking up information about the most absurd ways you can tune up your character, and instead, just focus on building something that makes the most sense for you, and whatever it is you want to create.

 

Point In The Doll Where It hurts More: About Everywhere, Doctor .
 

You know, one thing I have never fully come to terms with was how insufferably annoying fighting enemies felt in this game... Like, what were they thinking? I mean, I don't know about you, but me, myself, am not a huge fan of getting stunlocked by oversized bats and their spit even with near-maxed-out stats. Despised by many, and justifiably so, combat in GreedFall is that hard to get part that even when you finally get the hang of it, it won't magically become that big of a deal. Even after learning that difficulty is adjustable at any point, each encounter still feel so unsatisfyingly bland that for me to come here in its defense despite everything I've had to say thus far should justifiably get you raising an eyebrow.

As problematic as it may be, even if far from perfectly executed, combat here is actually as misunderstood as it could have been. The truth is, battling foes is more of a weird dance of sorts, and as soon as you start to realize this, the better you will be able to enjoy those long ventures to forage for items. With a combo of 1 step forward, 2 steps back, followed by characters constantly sliding across the room to reach out to a distant enemy, all to end it with a single misstep costing both sides dearly in what refers to style points, this is a real case of floor mop if I've ever seen one. In all seriousness, though, never would I have thought that sending entire species to the extinction board could be so fun, let alone an activity I'd be so inclined to go outside just to practice it.

On a separate note, equipment is another bit I'd like to briefly get into. Although it won't get you very far on its own, having the right gear plus upgrades attached to it means you'll soon be crashing parties in no time — nevermind getting one-tapped like low-level trash. Since you can craft them yourself or send them to a proper blacksmith to do the job, obtaining the very best upgrades is so easy that there's absolutely no reason for you to skip past it. Available from the get-go from the stock of most merchants, as well as from looting beasts and/or ore deposits found around the world, the materials used in these processes are so farmable that going for a max-level upgrade as soon as you have the resources in hand should be a literal no-brainer.

Equipment plays a massive role in any respectable RPG — that much is common knowledge. In GreedFall it was no different, but, as I said before, variety isn't really this game's strongest, so... yeah, gear is yet another one of those aspects you won't see 

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shine too much, unless you're constantly going out of your way to find them, searching quite literally every nook and cranny.

Main character of the game GreedFall in an open field looking in the direction of a fallen character at the left of the screen, while on the other side there is a human and a beastly sized enemy
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