Release Date: September 9th, 2019
Platforms: Xbox One (Reviewed on X), PlayStation 4, PC
To say the world of Greedfall isn't immediately inviting once you jump in would be a lie. When you jump into the world of Serene before heading to Teer Fradee, the architecture of 17th century Europe leaves a feast for the eyes as you venture throughout, creating a character, known as De Sardet, to your liking and exploring the unknown as you escape a terrible plague known as the Malichor that has affected a decent amount of the popuation, but Teer Fradee is a newfound land in which the cure may be found, as well as the possibility for the people to carry on in a disease-free environment. Unfortunately, because this vast land is still fairly unknown, it's hard to predict what else is out there and the dangers the people may face.
Greedfall’s unique twist on the RPG genre makes it one of the freshest takes to date, and with its 17th century Europe inspired backdrop, Greedfall has a sense of realism behind it making the world feel familiar yet exciting, implementing new tactics, ideas, and progression systems that feel contemporary and a step in the right direction. Greedfall does well to be inviting and equally surprising, making it a trip worth going on for those that love a little bit of science fiction in their fantasy. One of the most stunning things I noticed right away about the world of Greedfall is its attention to detail. Spiders set out to make a living, breathing world and it certainly feels that way. Every person you see you can interact with, and while most may not exactly provide anything worthwhile, the fact that you can engage with everyone you see and looking at how they perceive you is certainly interesting and gives more depth. It was pretty apparent early on how everyone has a routine depending on who they are and their (at face value) background, much like a real person would. Since it hooked my curiosity, I spent a decent amount of time walking around and simply observing people, and I was amazed to see people go in and out of buildings, converse with one another, and even watch conflict arise as some would aggressively knock on doors clearly trying to get the attention of someone. Watching people work on construction, unload shipments, guard entrances, do business with merchants and so much more gave the world of Greedfall purpose and life rather than being a dead playground of props and mannequins a lot of open-world games tend to suffer from. Add the stunning architecture of the cities and terrain you come into contact with and it's a visual delight, especially if you're able to play it on a 4K HDR enabled TV like I was able to with my Xbox One X. Though most things in the game tend to have a brown hue to them, the tones and gradients of them all shine with the brightness and lighting Greedfall caresses the landscapes with, making even the most mundane of items and props flourish.
Leveling up in Greedfall follows the fairly standard RPG tropes of killing enemies, looting, and completing quests. Quests give you a massive amount of experience, and given the amount you can do in Greedfall, it's nice having a bunch of sidequests to help you go along and complement the main story so you rarely find yourself stuck and unable to progress due to poor leveling. Greedfall does have a small difference compared to most RPGs, however, in that leveling doesn't increase your stats in a traditional way. Instead, you're granted Talent points, Skill points, and Attribute points all with separate skill trees and unique points given rather than a global point system in which you spend them however you'd like. The tree is easy to understand even with its depth, and it made for a less stressful experience knowing I had specific points to be spent under specific categories, instead of the usual "I have 4 points here, and this cost 3 points, but I really want these two for 2 points each also" as all the categories are mashed up. Not having to think about that made things a lot more organized and streamlined knowing that spending a point in one place wouldn't have any repercussions in another. You can choose between Warrior, Magic, and Technical classes when you begin the game, but your skill points can be spent in any desired category outside of your chosen class if you prefer. There are a lot of complementary abilities that the classes all borrow from, though for obvious reasons you'd still want to focus on the strengths of each. For example, maxing out strength for a magic class still wouldn't be as beneficial as focusing on spell distribution and mana conservation.
Because of the heavy drawings of 17th century Europe, uniforms and hierarchies are everywhere, representing the class and status of the people that inhabit it. Greedfall has a mix of many factions, and depending on the route you take, the tasks you complete, and the alliances you make, you'll need to fit in to various locations using outfits that help you blend in, your class based skills like being able to coerce people, or simply by using stealth mechanics to infiltrate certain areas. Decisions and actions will either help aid or diminish the standings you have between factions and partners, and it's ultimately up to the player which route they take, bein able to backstab at any time if they so choose. As the world of Greedfall can feel fairly big, it's a rather nicely organized and sectioned out sandbox that rarely finds you getting lost. Entering any area whether revisited or newly found shows the name pop up at the top of the screen just under its equally useful HUD identifying points of interest or tracked quests, though admittedly despite its usefulness, navigating the in-game menu can be a bit cumbersome, and not all quests are displayed at the top simultaneously. Sometimes you could be in the middle of doing a sidequest and suddenly find yourself heading towards a main quest location because the HUD decided to no longer show sidequest points, and the icons between the two are fairly similar, both being circular, but with the main quest having a few spikes coming out of it in an almost star-like fashion. The amount of times I had to go back to the quests and re-track a sidequest became rather irksome. Preferably, I would rather have them all display at once, rather than it be a pick-and-choose situation. I understand if this was done for the sake of having a clean and minimal user-interface to appreciate as much screen space as possible, but when everything is represented on icons at the top of the screen that aren't very invasive to begin with, it just doesn't seem like it'd make much of a problem to begin with, so having the option would have been nice.
I'll be honest in saying that I'm not one for medieval/historical fantasy themes in games. I won't go into heavy specifics, but I've simply never been able to click with them - not just the games but the genre in general. Greedfall is a special case, however, with such a unique world that draws heavy inspiration from it but still has creative liberty to do as it pleases with the genre and borrowing from RPGs of all kinds, while of course having its own take on it. Characters are likeable, the freedom to roam without feeling overwhelmed by loss of navigation or *too much* of it is reassuring, bosses comes in all shapes and sizes to the point its unpredictable in an exciting way, and the story and world of Greedfall ultimately comes together like a meticulously crafted painting with tones and palettes representing loss, redemption, sacrifice, and payoff. Greedfall has style, Greedfall has wit, and I have no doubt that Greedfall will be a game that will stick with me for quite some time. It'll be the game I point to when people like me who can't get into games like Middle-Earth, Dragon Age, Divinity, Kingdom Come, and the like and go "This is the one you want to try. Imagine everything you love about sci-fi and epic adventures, but with a theme that isn't usually associated with such, like Westworld, Into the Badlands, or Outlander. That's how immense and immersive this thing can get". It's got a little something for everyone, from a deep story to exciting fights, an organized but flexible skill tree, and even the ability to change the combat from its real-time action to turn-based combat. Admittedly the turn-based stuff isn't that polished, but it's a great way to pause and think about your next move if you start to feel there's a lot happening at once, being able to plan strategically. Even if this isn't what you would want to do with the turn-based portion of it - which can be utilized at any time with the click of a button - you can at least use it to quickly swap and assign moves to certain buttons on the controller to change things up and best take advantage of the situation, obliterating your enemies with finesse and dexterity. While it isn’t without fault as I feel animations could be vastly improved as well as some textural issues that are sporadically throughout, I knew right away when I first took a look at Greedfall that there was something captivating about it, and I'm just happy I was right. I hope now with the success and love people have shown both Greedfall and Plague Tale this year that Focus Home Interactive continues to take risks in supporting these marvelous unique properties that help expand the ever-growing medium to keep it as captivating and wondrous as possible.
Greedfall gives a unique view on a fantasy RPG that implements fresh mechanics with a polished world
Sidequests are interwoven into main quests and become complementary rather than an extra thing to do
Characters are likeable and memorable and leave an impact through your playthrough
A skill tree that allows players to choose whatever they'd like, including talents and attributes outside of their own class should they so choose
The menu management can be a little frustrating
Character customization is plentiful but most things are preset
A few bugs can cause the game to run sluggishly, including crashes and horrendous pop-in
A massive thank you to Spiders and Focus Home Interactive for providing us a copy of the game for the purposes of this review