Greedfall is something of an enigma, at least to me. Despite having quite a bit of jank, repetition included, it’s a beloved game. Let me further add that I loved my entire time in the world of Teer Fradee and beyond. I will most likely return at some point, and that’s rare because I hardly ever replay games that I’ve completed.
It’s an action-oriented yet story-heavy RPG a la early Bioware titles such as the original Dragon Age. I’ve seen and heard a lot of reviewers draw parallels between the two titles, and there are some, but make no mistake this is no Dragon Age. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad or undesirable game, however, especially these days.
In fact, I would argue it’s a game that deserves everyone’s time, at least to give it a try. It won’t be for everyone, that much is true but there’s a lot to love here.
My biggest qualm, which seems to be common among the gamersphere, is that the in-game companions and NPCs tend to repeat dialogue over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and… well you get it.
Greedfall is an Achievement for Spiders
Greedfall was developed by Spiders. If you’re not familiar, Spiders is an independent studio credited for The Technomancer, Bound by Flame, Of Orcs and Men, Mars: War Logs and several others.
Comparatively, Bound by Flame was a mediocre experience and is a derisive title — I’ve seen a lot of people say they hate it, but just as many say they found it bearable or worth playing at least once. I’m not going to comment on it in this regard, I’m merely pointing out it was not on par with Greedfall, not even close.
The Technomancer was a lot better, definitely a step in the right direction for the studio. But again, it was not on par with Greedfall.
There’s just something about the game that oozes mystery and mirth, almost in a beguiling way. I wouldn’t go so far as to say the developers and the game are trying to trick you. It’s more about the fact that the entire experience is pleasant despite its shortcomings. A lot of the issues that crop up wouldn’t work in another title, but for some reason, it just clicks here.
I think a lot of that has to do with the world, environments and the setting but in the end, it doesn’t matter, it works and that’s what I’m getting at.
My Name is De Sardet, Legate of the Merchant’s Congregation
All in, the game plays like this. You move from world space to world space — this is not open world, by the way — completing quests, looking for loot, and exploring the landscape.
In between maps, you enter a sort of single-player hub, which is your camp. While the game loads the next map you can talk to your companions, customize gear and change load-outs, buy goods from a merchant and get ready for the next phase in your journey. This is highly reminiscent of Dragon Age’s camp mechanic and is just one of the parallels.
Combat plays out in real-time, this is an action RPG first, but you can pause the action at any time to issue more fine-tuned commands. Again, this is similar to Dragon Age, but you don’t have control of your companions and it’s more a third-person experience as opposed to a top-down view and more tactical mechanics.
When you roam out into the world, that’s when most of your combat takes place but you do occasionally have a fight or two in the cities. Mostly, you’ll be engaging in dialogue with NPCs and various characters to further questlines or find out a little more about the world.
The game slows down a bunch when you’re exploring the cities and moving from person to person to either pick up new quests or further existing ones. There’s no way around this, especially if you’re the type of person to nab all available quests at once.
I tend to grab everything before I head out into the world to explore. From there, I like to complete all the quests I have active only returning to a hub when I have a bunch to turn in.
Teer Fradee is beautiful, and it’s a real treat to explore even without the open-world influence. Some of the tighter areas still feel open because of the way they’re presented. A mountain-scape in the background might serve to offer some depth and height. A seemingly endless forest backdrop might give the impression you’re in the middle of untamed wilderness. The world design is impressive, even more so when you consider a small indie team put it all together.
The characters are interesting, including your companions. At first, they seem a bit cliche, but once you delve into their motives a little more — all of them have companion questlines you can complete — you immediately realize this assumption is wrong.
The same is also true for the game’s quests. A lot of them have unexpected outcomes, to say the least, and a decision that looks like it’s going to go one way ultimately ends up going a completely different direction. But don’t worry, it’s not to the point where the questlines are unsatisfying, quite the opposite.
For example, in one quest you must find a missing faction member who has either been kidnapped or defected. As you slowly discover more clues you come to understand what’s going on and by the time you have to make a choice, it’s much more complex than you might have initially thought. I’m being purposefully vague here so as not to spoil the experience of this particular quest, but it’s a lot like The Witcher 3’s side content in that there’s no clear good or bad, right or wrong. You’re just picking a choice based upon what you — or your character’s — moral compass might dictate. Even then, your choice often ends up resulting in something just as unexpected.
This design strategy keeps all the quests interesting and worth experiencing during a playthrough. Many of the stories seem to warrant additional playthroughs to see the alternate outcomes. That’s exactly why I have plans to return to the world.
Is Greedfall Good or Not?
In my opinion, Greedfall is an excellent RPG despite its shortcomings, and everyone who seems remotely interested should give it a try. There are similarities to the original Dragon Age, enough to maybe warrant some of those fans giving it a shot. But if you do decide to check this one out, go in without any expectations. I realize that’s tough to do sometimes, but just don’t go in expecting an AAA experience because that’s not what you’re going to get and that’s alright.
What’s more important is that Greedfall is not just a step but a huge leap in the right direction for Spiders. That’s important because RPG-lovers could use more players on the field. Compelling, story-driven games like this are getting harder and harder to come by.