Edited by: Jade Swann
Greedfall is Focus Home Interactive’s latest release. The fantasy RPG adventure reminds me of Skyrim at first glance — discovering remote locations, joining or betraying companions or factions, using diplomacy or weapons to solve conflicts… complete with character progression, magic, and a huge variety of quests and tasks.
That, at least, is what the game promises from the outset. The reality of it plays a little differently. Right off the bat, you come face to face with possibly one of the most disappointing aspects of the game: the character creator. While it’s great to be able to customize your character and even choose a gender to play as, the fact that the available options are incredibly limited and almost identical for both genders really ruins it. For the female character, there are two or three unique haircuts, and the rest are the same as for the male characters. Worse yet, the hair doesn’t even seem to fit the woman’s head, or they have outright bald spots.
Perhaps even more concerning are the skin color options — pale, paler, and whiter than a ghost are more or less the available options. Not cool, guys!
This is a bit of a recurring trend — Greedfall struggles with its animations. While movement looks relatively natural, if occasionally a bit choppy, the facial expressions remind me a little of launch-day Andromeda. Even on the highest settings, the graphics don’t look the part of a game released in 2019. They are by no means bad, but they certainly fall short of my expectations based on screenshots and promotional material.
While it seems that the creators skimped on the character customization options and animation budgets, the same cannot be said for their writing and voice acting teams. The voice acting is an absolute joy, and the early quests the main character performs before setting out to the island you explore are fun, despite being relatively simple and quite “standard” — you are to fetch a potion, negotiate with some kidnappers, and find a truant prince. Hardly revolutionary, but still surprisingly fun.
Jumping to conclusions
Greedfall does one thing very, very well — the environments and backdrops. While the animation and textures leave something to be desired, the overall world design is quite stunning and immersive. There is one thing that limits the immersion — the fact that we are entirely earth-bound. While I wouldn’t have expected a climbing system on par with Assassin’s Creed, the fact that it’s impossible to so much as jump really does feel strangely limiting, especially given that the map is not flat. There are ledges to fall down, ladders to climb back up, and even low obstacles to vault over… but no jumping!
Getting chummy with the natives
As soon as you reach the main part of the map — the island you explore — you are thrown into a civil war between the natives and other foreigners, and have to choose a side. At this point, the faction system becomes more obvious, as does the game’s team selection process. Both very closely resemble Dragon’s Age: Origins — as well as several more aspects, including the loot collection and map limitations (lots of invisible walls even in places that look like you should be able to walk through).
This can get mildly annoying, but the varied and creative map design does make up for it — it’s a beautiful world to explore. It is worth noting that although the game is close to open world, it does have some restrictions and transitions between areas.
Fighting for Phat Loots
While fighting, enemies drop ingredients and items, which you can then use and equip. In this regard, Greedfall does a good job — the fact that changing equipment makes a visual difference makes changing things around more interesting. Weapons, armor, and more all feel well-balanced, which can only partly be said for the combat system.
First off: combat is fun. The animations are smooth and hacking away at enemies feels satisfying. That said, one of the possible directions the character can move in is becoming a mage. This feels like playing on another difficulty setting entirely — magic is extremely underpowered and not much fun to play compared to, say, a single-handed sword approach.
Aside from that, making choices on the small, but well-designed skill tree is fun. Initially, it does feel like the choices matter very little, but that changes later in the game. Speaking of later, the further into the main story you get, the more Greedfall’s biggest asset shines — the storytelling. As mentioned, it manages to make even fairly standard quests enjoyable, and, as long as you ignore the horrendous facial animations, there is a lot of fun to be had just by following the main quests.
The Verdict: Good
Greedfall isn’t perfect. In fact, it has some pretty serious problems when it comes to character creation, facial animations, and some of the textures and overall graphics quality. That said, it’s a fun game with spectacular voice acting and great storytelling. For RPG fans, it’s a must-have, but something like Skyrim would definitely be a better introduction to the genre for players who aren’t familiar with story-driven RPGs. There are some annoying drawbacks (mostly in the shape of invisible walls) that feel out of place in a game released by a big studio in 2019, but all in all, Greedfall has enough positive aspects that it’s worth a buy. The world design, as well as some of the creatures alone are well worth exploring!