Greedfall recently popped up on Playstation’s PS Now service, and it got me thinking about the game, which I finished on the Xbox One early this year during the initial COVID lockdowns.
When I drop money on a game, I fully expect certain things. I want smooth controls, an intuitive interface, slick graphics, and compelling voice acting. Greedfall, a 2019 RPG from the folks at Spiders, doesn’t have any of that. It looks and plays a lot like a last gen game, which would be completely forgivable on last gen hardware.
On the Xbox One or PS4 the game will likely come across as underwhelming to virtually anyone that’s spent time with a AAA RPG in recent gaming years.
What Greedfall does have, however, is story and atmosphere. In this realm the game is nearly unmatched. Greedfall engages in superb story telling and allows players to make choices throughout the game, many of which are as innocuous as simply choosing moderately passive aggressive dialogue responses, but end up having very serious consequences in regard to which characters and factions remain allies by the end of the game. Choosing dialogue is fairly similar to the Dragon Age franchise, which the team at Spiders obviously had in mind when designing this game.
Whereas side quests in many games feel like segues that distract from the main story (see the many memes about completing side quests before the main story), Greedfall takes a different approach. Completely optional side quests yield important information about the nature of the characters and their relationships, and sometimes also impact the feelings the characters have for one another. This makes the side quests feel less of an option than they are in many games, and instead gives the player a real incentive to delve into the world.
The game takes heavy influence from 17th and 18th century European history, not just in terms of the design of its mythical island of Teer Fradee, but in terms of the nature of colonialism and the need for Europeans from that era to murder and steal everything that isn’t tied down.
One of the cooler aspects of the game is that you get to choose whether or not you join in on the destruction of the Native peoples of Teer Fradee, or if you’ll be a friend to the islanders.
Bosses are very well designed, and only moderately frustrating thanks to the sometimes not great controls. Most of them look like something that walked out of a Lovecraft story to terrorize the player. Unfortunately, most enemies are the exact same regardless of where you are in the game. At the beginning? You’re going to kill weird bear looking things.
At the end? Bear things. The number of bear monsters, bat things, and average humans you’ll kill during your playthrough is roughly equivalent to the number of Hot Pockets consumed by your average Comicon attendee throughout a calendar year. In other words, be ready for a lot of repetition.
Despite all this, the politics, dialogue, and story in Greedfall make it a truly memorable experience if you can get past the many, many flaws.
It turned out being one of my favorite games from this console generation. Just try to pretend that they really wanted this game to look and play a lot like Dragon Age 2 from 2011 and maybe you can see past the more disappointing elements and enjoy it as much as I did.
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