With GreedFall

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Republished on Wednesday, December 30, 2020: We are taking this review back from the archives following the announcement of the PS Plus lineup for January 2021.

It follows the original text.

This generation has been busy with spiders.

So far, two role-playing games, Bound by Flame in 2014 and The Technomancer in 2016, have been published by the French artist. There were some cool ideas and a distinctive feel to both games, but they were eventually let down by odd gameplay mechanics and stunted stories.

At the heart of the Spiders’ production, there’s a spark of something greater – but until now, it’s been hidden.

We mention “until now” because GreedFall is undeniably the best title to date for the studio.

The creator has finally put his passion for slightly weird fantasy on a rock-solid gameplay basis in its third attempt. GreedFall is larger in tone and form than its predecessors, but still much more consistent – it may well be a breakthrough for Spiders.

The collection on the PlayStation 4 is shockingly slim when it comes to Western action RPGs, and GreedFall tries in a post-Witcher 3 environment to fill the gap. Dragon Age: Inquisition has a lot in common with it: party-based fighting, choice-based dialogue, an emphasis on classes of characters, and gear crafting. Over a broad, open map, it also prefers large, distinct areas. But GreedFall is not crushed by endless fetch quests and numerous goals, unlike Inquisition – it is a neatly packed experience from start to finish.

You play the part of De Sardet, a sort of diplomat charged with bringing order to a largely untamed island.

The island of Teer Fradee may seem like paradise at first sight, far from the continent’s problems – which include a very nasty plague – but it doesn’t take long for De Sardet and his friends to realize that tensions between the warring nations of the island and the natives are at an all-time high. It is up to you, of course, to try to get everyone to get along.

De Sardet can be both male and female, as already indicated, and you will be able to tinker right at the beginning of the story with some simple character changes. De Sardet, however, never really feels like his own character.

From the beginning, her personality is almost set in stone, and there are no real possibilities for reshaping it – either you do your diplomatic work well or you mess it up.

Currently, there are few and far between realistic dialogue solutions. Most of the time, during discussions, you will find yourself simply choosing questions from a list, with De Sardet setting the tone himself. It’s frustrating for an RPG that is obviously attempting to conquer the territories of BioWare, that only a handful of main events give you any real option or outcome.

There’s still role-playing here, however, especially in the way you create De Sardet. For example, if you invest in traits like Charisma or Intuition, you have options for dialogue that can alter the outcome of quests. But when they are the optimal conclusion, these just do not sound like options. Many quests end in either bloodshed (bad) or effective negotiation (good). It’s black and white too much, and it feels like GreedFall is selling short on its own.

Don’t get us wrong now, RPG fans are always going to find a lot here to enjoy.

Settling a fight between religious zealots and angry residents is satisfying, but we wish there was a little more depth if we didn’t have to pour all the skill points into the status of Charisma.

The role-playing may fall a little short, but with the world-building, GreedFall does a decent job.

It’s an interesting European colonization-inspired fantasy, complete with muskets, squiggly skirts, and swashbuckling facial hair.

It’s at its finest a fascinating atmosphere filled with character – for all the right reasons, it’s unique.

A fine job of selling it is also done by the factions that inhabit this planet.

Based on the teachings of a saint, the science-oriented Bridge Alliance meets Theleme, a deeply devout (and violent) country. In the meantime, the natives of Tar Fradee worship nature, and many of them are not too pleased, as you might imagine, that their homeland is being plundered by outsiders.

While the dynamics can be predictable between the three major factions, it is still a finely balanced one.

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