GreedFall caught my attention with its setting that isn’t seen very often in games (it’s akin to Europe discovering the “New World” complete with black powder rifles and magic). The story and choices I’ve made in GreedFall kept me immersed and wanting more, but the combat kept me from 100% enjoying myself. But how does the experience hold up?
A Unique Setting
The big lure for me to get interested in GreedFall came in its setting and story. The setting of the world is very akin to 15th century Europe’s “Age of Discovery.” There were massive ships being loaded for long voyages for trade and for the trip to the new colony established on the newly discovered island. Soldiers walked the port armored in breastplates with swords sheathed and some had black powder rifles armed and ready to enforce the peace of the land. I saw alchemists hawking cure alls for everything that ailed people including this mysterious disease that was striking down the populace.
I have played several RPGs set in a medieval type world with swords and magic, but GreedFall set itself apart with a heavier focus on gunpowder and science over the magic bits. Magic was limited to only a few spells whereas there was a great variety of pistols, rifles, alchemical traps, bombs and potions available to me. Having a little knowledge in Science gave me options to blow open secret walls whereas I couldn’t do that with magic.
This was a nice departure from games that normally feature a heavier focus on magic. Combine this with the feel of being explorers of a new island that featured mysterious creatures and a native populace that were at times hostile because of natives being taken as slaves to others who saw you as hope as you helped them navigate this merger of two worlds.
I felt compelled to know more of the land and actually took time to not only ask questions of various characters but also take time away from playing to read deeper into the lore of GreedFall. I did that not only for myself, but because I felt compelled to because of the position of power I held as a young noble who was practically 2nd in command to the new governor of the land.
It was this setting that I started my journey in as a young noble who was about to embark on a trip to the new world in a position of power. I liked the way the dev team decided make character customization a part of the story as a painter was trying to capture your portrait for prosperity, a unique way for it that helped enrich the setting of the story.
I went from there to discover my dear cousin who would be the next governor of the new land hadn’t shown up from his night of “fun”. So, it was up to me to make sure he safely made his way our ship before departure. I started this jaunt by giving my formal goodbye to my mother and than the two foreign embassies who resided in this old port. This was a great introduction that helped me to meet several of the factions that were part of the old world in GreedFall and learn more of the world’s background. GreedFall kept me immersed in the world, thanks to its characters who felt alive and continually revealed more about the world around me. Additionally, like many RPGs, exploring the world around me gave me a great deal of info about the world.
As the story progressed, I felt like the choices I could make with my character could lead to significant changes in the story. Allying myself with the native populace or saying to hell with them led to very different options down the line. Decisions I made also influenced my companions, someone who thought of me as a great friend would warn me or impending danger, but that same companion could possibly betray me if I hadn’t made the choices I had. GreedFall gave me a world I got lost in and characters I cared about.
This world couldn’t have been as good as it was without the art and music behind it that it had. GreedFall possessed striking visuals that had me staring for moments at a lone ship sitting at the dock and animals that roamed its forests that I took time to look at before I eventually destroyed them.
Backing these visuals up was a music selection that at times simply flowed in the background easing itself into my ears and other times was loud and in my face at par with the danger I faced. While out in the wildlands it was easy to just sit back and take a few minutes to enjoy the music that just different enough to fit into this new landscape.
GreedFall has a great deal of voice acting in it. Sometimes this can be a downfall of a game as more voicework means sometimes you don’t always have voices that match and sound right. But all the work done in GreedFall was done so well and the accents that were there fit into the setting.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of all the facial animations that went with all of that voice acting. There were a few times when the facial expressions of some characters as they were talking went a little wonky which had me questioning should their jaw be moving like that. This happened a few times, but thankfully wasn’t a recurring theme throughout the whole game.
Breaking Down The Combat
GreedFall is more of an action RPG in regards to its combat, but how you get there is done through several skills and stats which can be a bit daunting.I had Skills, Attributes and Talents to wrap my head around and use all these things for not only combat, but all manner of things.
Skills are more reflective of combat and help you form the what type of combat you want to have. YOu start with a basic skill like being able to use firearms and then put points into it which generally gets you passive bonuses to that skill and sometimes you get new skills from that single line in the skill tree or you get a new skill by spending points into two lines of the tree. An example is putting points into firearms and bladed weapons, at a certain point that opens up the skill for my little dodge I do to now become a roll which helps me get out of harm's way faster.
I only had so many skill points to spend and wanted to stick in a wedge of the skill tree that gave me points in firearms, bladed weapons and traps. But there were several different ways I could’ve gone, especially if I had decided to go more of a magical route with my character instead of focusing on guns.
Attributes are the stats on my character that help influence certain things, but you got less of these than skill points. An attribute like Endurance gave you passive bonuses like more health and less likely to be stunned, but was also needed to were better armor. This made trying to have points in all of these stats troublesome and not really the best idea for my survival in GreedFall.
Talents were in the vain of attributes but had more to do with actual actions. In Talents I could pick up a point in Science and could now craft simple potions and a few other things at the crafting tables, but 2 points in Science meant I could now craft ammo as well and reduce a few ingredients. Just like in attributes, trying to be a jack of all trades wasn’t very effective, but sometimes felt needed simply because of how many more options having those talents gave me.
The interesting thing with this system in GreedFall is that it forced me into deciding what character I wanted to play and sticking with it. There was a system where I could use a special gem to redo my stats, but there wasn’t a lot of these to be found. I felt this system was both a positive and negative for GreedFall. I had plenty of choices, but I had to go down a specific route if I wanted my character build to succeed. Going with magic and firearms probably wouldn’t have worked as well as firearms with blades and traps did. Trying to be a jack of all trades in GreedFall will make it harder than it already is.
All of these points spent lead into a combat system that is meant to be more action than anything else, but gave me the ability to pause combat at will to assess the situation or quickly decide on a different item to use. I dived into combat with up to two companions whom I had no control of, they all had different skills and ways to fight alongside me adding depth to who I picked to come with me.
Sometimes combat felt good with me able to easily lock onto someone and switch as needed. I placed down traps as I went and sometimes fired shots from my pistol as quickly as the fire rate would allow or I would leap in with my sword at hand. I definitely felt combat was easier and I felt slightly overpowered with firearms but that was balanced with having to have enough ammo and simple targeting for guns. Melee was a different beast with dodging and parrying coming into play more.
But after a while combat started feel repetitive, because there were only so many options available to me. Because I had gone the route of traps, I actually had a few different traps I could play with, but other than that it was either shoot from a distance and watch things die or get up close. More often than not I enjoyed combat, but there were some fights where it just felt tedious.
Overall, I enjoyed my time playing GreedFall immensely. The setting and lore of the world helped to cement me deep into everything. The story messed well with this setting and had me wanting more at the end. There was a ton of great voice work done, which sometimes was offset by some odd facial animations. The visuals were stunning and brought both a look of old world and new frontier together seamlessly.
The stat point system I have mixed feelings over. It forced me to make a decision and stick with a build as I played, otherwise I didn’t do so well in combat or could mess important things in conversations without certain skills. This is both good and bad to me. Great because it meant I would want to replay the game not only for a possible different ending, but for a different type of play as well. But this meant that if I didn’t pay attention to what I was doing I could conceivably make a character who was going to make most everything harder to do.
If you’re looking for an in-depth RPG that lets you make choices in a seldom seen world with both muskets and magic, then GreedFall is right up your alley.
- Immersive story
- Choices that matter and can affect the game
- Lots of great voice acting
- Stunning visuals and music
- A skill system that has several options
- Combat can feel repetitive at times
- While the skill system has several options, if you don’t focus on what you’ve chosen it can make things more difficult
Full Disclosure: A copy of the the game was provided for the purposes of this review.