GreedFall is a solid if not especially remarkable game, with an engaging story in a unique setting that borrows heavily from real history, and is sure to be satisfying to those in need of a BioWare-style, action RPG fix.
GreedFall is a new action role-playing game that puts players in the shoes of a 17th century explorer leaving the old world for a newly discovered land, Teer Fradree. The mission is to discover a cure for a disease that is ravaging the home continent, but doing so inevitably finds players caught between the different factions vying for control in the new world. Using not just fighting skills but stealth, diplomacy, and even magic, players will navigate a political minefield as they search for the cure while also unraveling a greater mystery about Teer Fradree.
GreedFall is an RPG very much in the vein of BioWare's Dragon Age series, rewarding player choice and offering a variety of play styles, but with a combat system that feels less polished and navigation that can, at times, frustrate. Regardless, GreedFall offers a strongly-researched and creative spin on the Colonial Age, mixing together real world politics and technology with more traditional fantasy for a unique setting. The story GreedFall uses this world to tell isn't necessarily groundbreaking, but the game's focus on choice allows for player actions to have an impact on how the story progresses. GreedFall is a solid if not especially remarkable game, with an engaging story in a unique setting that borrows heavily from real history, and is sure to be satisfying for those in need of a BioWare-style, action RPG fix.
Developed by Spiders and published by Focus Home Interactive, GreedFall is an RPG that allows for a lot of customization in not only how a player character looks but how they fight. The game begins with players sitting for a portrait, a neat story mechanic that sets up character customization. There is quite of bit of freedom here to tweak a character's appearance, including gender, facial structure, skin tone, hair, etc., but there are also several presets for those who prefer to just pick a look and get on with it.
GreedFall offers three classes - Warrior, Technical, and Magic - but this doesn't limit how players can develop the trees of those classes once selected. The Skill, Attribute, and Talent trees are all open from the start, and players can build their characters however they like. For example, a Warrior isn't restricted from using spells and Technical players can wield heavy, one-handed axes. GreedFall encourages players to build a character with a variety of abilities, introducing quest steps that require proficiency in certain Talents or weapons that can only be used when the necessary Skills are unlocked. This much freedom in customization will also put a lot of the responsibility on the player to have the right build before attempting certain quests, and when they don't, the game will punish them.
The combat in GreedFall is the fluid action common among games of this nature, but while it may feel reminiscent of say, the Assassin's Creed series, it isn't as refined. Dodging and parrying, for instance, are essential but can be difficult to perform, only becoming really useful once better skills are unlocked. This makes GreedFall feel unnecessarily challenging early on, and the game already doesn't provide much in the way of hand-holding. One key feature that does make GreedFall stand out, however, is the ability to pause the action mid-battle. This screen allows players to plan the next move, either choosing their next action or even binding a move or potion to a button for quick access. At later levels, pulling this screen up becomes extremely helpful when players move on from fighting packs of wild beaver-bear creatures and begin engaging with bizarre, eldritch horrors that look like that'd be right at home in The Witcher.
Navigating the world of GreedFall can be also be frustrating at times seeing as the developers chose a top directional bar over an on-screen mini-map. This design choice wouldn't be much of an issue in a game again like Assassin's Creed, where players can scale buildings, but for a game based on more realistic movement mechanics, it can lead to a lot of dead ends. Progressing through the story opens up fast travel options, but GreedFall will still require a lot of in-game traveling the old fashioned way - walking or running (which can thankfully be done at no expense to any stamina meter).
Players will begin GreedFall in their home town of Serene back in the old world before traveling across the sea to Teer Fradree. It's a thinly-veiled representation of our world's own Age of Discovery, where the richest (and whitest) nations "discovered" the rest of the world and treated it with little to no regard for the people already living there. GreedFall infuses this era with magic and fantasy elements, but it also interestingly steers away from casting any one group with a clear race or nationality. The natives of Teer Fradree, for instance, come in variety of skin tones and their culture is more or less nondescript fantasy druid than a true representation of indigenous people. The colonials are a mix of groups who all hold allegiances either to merchants, a navy, or the church - all of which are more thinly-veiled stand-ins of actual things, be it Christianity or the East India Company.
The struggles among these groups in GreedFall are therefore very similar to those of that time in our own world's history, but the game is choosing to play it safe by moving this all-too familiar story of discovery and colonization to a fantasy world. That being said, by forcing the player's character to have a mediating role in these struggles, players are made to contend with these realities, and in that way, GreedFall is at least attempting to center an important discussion.
GreedFall does lack the polish of games made by larger developers, but its an earnest effort that results in a solid if not especially remarkable gameplay experience. It draws similarities with everything from Assassin's Creed for its attention to historical detail, to Dragon Age for its in-depth role-playing and customization. For those interested in an action RPG that focuses above and beyond on telling an engaging and unique story about a era of great change and tumult, then GreedFall is certainly worth checking out.
GreedFall releases September 10th, 2019 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC. Screen Rant was provided a PlayStation 4 digital code for this review.