Greedfall isn't in the same league as the giants of the RPG genre and it's slightly hampered with clunky mechanics and below par visuals in places. However, its story and world building are effective enough to keep fans of this genre glued to it for hours.
Stuff didn’t review Greedfall when it first came out two years ago. Hey, sue us.
We have a small staff with a lot to do and when this adventure RPG dropped in September of 2019, it was up against Gears 5, FIFA 20, Borderlands 3, The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and a whole bunch of other games that made it fight for air.
So it’s with some sense of ‘better late than never’ that we were rather pleased to be able to delve into Focus Interactive’s fantasy RPG, since it’s now available as a Gold Edition for current-gen consoles. Not will players receive the base game, should they choose to buy it, they’ll also gain access to Greedfall’s expansion, The de Vespe Conspiracy.
So as it happens, Stuff has an excuse to dive into a game that we didn’t recently cover that was also released nearly two years ago. We’ve come away with mixed feelings.
Welcome to Greedfall
In Greedfall, players take on the role of De Sardet, a man (or woman) representing a faction named the Congregation Of Merchants who (after a brief dalliance in the old world) sets sail for an island fiefdom called Teer Fradee. He (or she) is there to serve as a legate for cousin Prince Constatin, who has been appointed governor of the island, and their primary concern is to find a cure for a plague called The Malichor, which has been ravaging the population back home.
This involves a lot of travelling, a lot of talking, a lot of looting and a lot of fighting. Initially, players are touching base with the different factions around the island – both the native population and forces that have arrived alongside De Sardet from the Old World. But as the player delves deeper into the game, quests, side-quests and bounty missions start stacking up.
New world, familiar mechanics
Greedfall is your typical Western RPG. It’s not quite an open world, like say, Skyrim or Red Dead Redemption 2. Rather, it more closely resembles the likes of Mass Effect or The Witcher 2, in which the world is divided up into separate maps.
There are skill trees, abilities and attributes to level up. There’s a crafting mechanic that players can use to upgrade weapons and armour, make potions, ammunition, traps and so forth, and there are sites they can activate to fast-travel throughout the map. Players are encouraged to kit out De Sardet with the best weapons and armour available, which they’ll invariably come across on their travels.
When the player faces enemies – be they humans or island beasties – they’re in for a mixed bag. Clicking in a stick highlights an enemy but there’s no guarantee that the player won’t be blindsided – many of the island’s beasts attack in a rush. They can hot-key certain functions that help out a lot – ranged weapons, traps, health potions – but every combat encounter feels like a crap-shoot whether they win or not. Well, unless they’re levelled up to the nines and carrying upgraded weapons.
Combat, for the most part, is a team-based affair. Once De Sardet lands in Teer Fradee, it’s not long before he (or she) is permanently flanked by two companions. They’re drawn from the ranks of the different factions dotted around the island and each brings a unique set of skills. They can be swapped out at fast-travel sites, which is useful, because at times some of them may give the player a headache.
For example, one companion from a religious order is unwelcome in one of the cities. In order to get in, the player needs to head back to camp and replace them. In another instance, one companion’s magic attack – which is all he’s armed with – is useless against a massive beast who is immune to the arcane arts. Back to camp one goes to find someone more fit for purpose.
So Greedfall – both its base game and its expansion, which takes place on a new map – is a series of fetch quests, peppered with fights and looting and tons of dialogue. What’ll drag players through Greedfall is the plot and the rather sly – if stunted – comment it makes on the practice of colonialism.
Players are made very well aware from the outset that De Sardet and the rest of the factions that have arrived from the Old World are basically an invading force – however benignly they present themselves. Some – like the Congregation Of Merchants – are trying to peacefully negotiate an easy existence with the island’s natives, while others – like the zealots in San Matheus – are hell-bent on shoving their religion down the locals’ throats and killing anyone who doesn’t swallow and say thank you.
As De Sardet and his pals investigate the island, they find that the native population are largely untrusting of both their presence and their activities – which is reasonable, given the conflicts the settlers have brought with them. The player then has to walk a fine line between both groups, and it helps if the player can finesse their way through the odd confrontation diplomatically. It helps if the player is on good terms with as many factions as possible.
Greedfall Gold Edition – Verdict
Greedfall, then, is a decent RPG. It’s certainly not in the same league as the giants of this genre but it’s a fairly fun game to while away hours in. Its story is rather good and even if its mechanics are a little on the clunky side, the plot is capable of keeping players’ attention right up until the closing credits. If you have a Western RPG itch that needs scratching, this game may be fit for purpose, provided there are no major instalments in this genre you have yet to play.