When it comes to games from publisher Focus Interactive, you sometimes expect things to be a little rough around the edges. Greedfall is no exception, an action RPG set in the 17th Century where colonialism is spreading through the new world.
Sure, it’s a little rough around the edges, but it does have charm that grows on you as you progress.
I guess Greedfall could best be likened to a game like CD Projekt Red’s The Witcher series. Where combat and diplomacy play key roles as you explore towns and other locations in the New World of Ter Fradee. Discovering its secrets – and the cure for a strange affliction called the malichor.
Players control diplomat De Sardet, an emissary of the congregation of merchants. He’s a likeable chap, if I’m being honest, with a cheeky charm and attitude that is instantly endearing.
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Greedfall opens with a comprehensive character creation mode, cleverly hidden behind the guise of De Sardet having his portrait painted by a master painter. Where you can tweak his – or her – visage to your liking. Once that’s done, you then select your class. Be it warrior, technical or magic, and get the first look at the skill tree. As he explores, De Sardet meets new companions and he can take two of them at a time with him on his quests. Which becomes a test of which one will provide the critical skills required to help out in a tight spot.
With the obligatory combat training out of the way. One of the opening missions involves De Sardet having to break his cousin Constantin – the next governor of Ter Fradee – out of prison after a fracas at a local tavern. It’s here that Greedfall’s various options of completing tasks comes to the fore. De Sardet can either break in, all forceful like or try to convince the guards that he should be let in. Provided his persuasive abilities are high enough.
Another interesting side mission was getting to the bottom of a seemingly shady snake oil selling travelling salesman. Who isn’t quite what he seems. That’s something I like about Greedfall: What seems the most innocuous of quests often become intriguing tales, with twists and turns.
The Basic Mechanics
It’s also done with a backdrop of a rousing orchestral soundtrack, which fits for the adventuring you’ll be doing. There are fast travel points – in this case, merchant camps where you can stock up on supplies and upgrade equipment mid-travel. Or campsites where you can rest for a pre-determined time period, and caravans you can hitch a ride on (for a small amount of gold, of course).
At its very heart Greedfall is all about looting, exploring, crafting and completing quests. Go visit this person, go find that person, go check that out. It’s enjoyable for the most part and De Sardet has a likeable charm about him as a lead character. De Sardet gains skills points for completing quests and defeating foes, which you use to upgrade De Sardet’s abilities and combat skills. Skills he’ll need against bigger and more powerful foes. The combat fodder is run of the mill early on. However, when De Sardet comes up against larger, more formidable foes that’s where you can put your skills to good use.
While I wouldn’t class Greedfall as an open world game like, say, The Witcher series or The Elder Scrolls. One thing the game isn’t afraid of displaying is its narrative. Which deals with the impact of colonialism on indigenous peoples. One mission had a native trader asking you to look into newly arrived traders who were giving the local a hard time.
Taking the Rough with the Smooth
I talked earlier about an expectation that games published by Focus Interactive can be a little rough around the edges. Visually Greedfall looks good, there are times when the cities and locations look remarkable. Others when they look like a PS3 game, not a current generation PS4 title.
Character models, too, are a little rough around the edges, with their eyes and faces, particularly looking inhuman. You’ll also find a lot of generous reuse of character models. Especially bandits and villagers, and locations (the governor palaces in each time looked remarkably similar, with perhaps one less staircase). Whilst audio indicating a bustling city square with citizens going about their business is let down by sparsely populated streets. Small things and not enough to detract from the narrative but niggling, all the same.
If there was one gripe about Greedfall it’s the melee combat, a combination of heavy and light blows and parries. It just doesn’t feel weighty. I could comfortably slash my way through most combat encounters while my friends provided support. It worked, though, so maybe that’s the point.
The Final Word
Yes, Greedfall is riddled with technical problems, but will I still be playing it in a few weeks time? Unlikely, but it’s narrative is intriguing and features a rather likeable character.
The bottom line is, for me, though, Greedfall: Colonialism in the New World isn’t a must-buy. NZ gamers, you’ll pay around $90 for it on console and Aussie friends, you’ll pay around $80. If it does sound like a bit of you, I’d honestly wait till it was on sale.
By then post-launch patches will have been deployed and should have smoothed out some of those rough edges.