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Greedfall Review: Fisticuffs In Fancy Hats

When Superman died in 90's comic book event The Death of Superman, four noble impostors took up the mantle to protect Metropolis in his absence. Each of these so-called "Supermen" represented a piece of what made the Man of Steel who he was, but none of them could truly fill the hole in the world left behind by the Last Son of Krypton. Two of these Supermen faded away into obscurity. One of them, Superboy, has had an enduring legacy as a member of the Teen Titans and Young Justice. The other, Steel, became the uh, well...this.

Ya, that's Shaq.

Its been over 5 years since the release of The Witcher 3: Wildhunt and since then a similar group of noble impostors have attempted to recapture the magic of the greatest action RPG of all time. Some, like Elex, have already managed to fade away and be forgotten. Others, like Mass Effect: Andromeda have panned out more like Steel: an experience we are all hoping to forget. Greedfall, then, is our Superboy: an inferior clone to be certain, but charming it's own way, and full of potential to establish its own legacy.

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Teer Fradee And Fantasy Colonialism

The feather in Greedfall's 3-corner hat is its 17th century setting and colonial era narrative. Very few if any games have taken place during the French Grand Siècle, and Greedfall revels in the costumes, opulent architecture, and Baroque art of the 1600s.

You play as De Sardet, a diplomat from a Merchant's guild, traveling to the newly discovered continent of Teer Fradee to help your cousin Constatin establish his rule as Governor. The opening quests introduce you to the various factions you'll be interacting with in Teer Fradee: a progressive society that represents the scientific revolution, native tribes that dabble in druidic magic, religious zealots that call themselves inquisitors and run "conversion camps," and a League of Shadows-style sailor guild call The Naughts.

As a diplomat, De Sardet's days are spent helping each faction to build favor with them, solving conflict between the factions, and searching for a cure to a plague called The Malachor that is ravaging society in the old world.

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Greedfall draws influence from the 17th century at every available turn. Themes of colonialism, expansionism, classism, and proselytism are all inherent to the time. Greedfall leans into these themes to motivate conflict, while at the same time completely refusing to DO anything with it. Rather than delving into the moral repugnancy of the era with a modern context, Greedfall treats the time period as purely aesthetic. To that end, Greedfall is a gorgeous game, taking only the purest iconography of Baroque art and architecture to craft stunning townships with remarkable skylines. Still, part of me still wishes the game was brave enough to show us the second half of Mulholland Drive, the raw and brutal Hollywood, rather than just being satisfied to remain within the magical fantasy Hollywood of the first half.

I Just Want To Know If It's Fun

It is, I really enjoyed my time in Teer Fradee, learning about the different factions' beliefs and agendas. I enjoyed the choices that were available to make and the reputation system that informed how many of the events in the game play out. Greedfall does a good enough job throwing branching paths at you that a replay feels warranted; there were a number of moments when things happened and I wondered if they would have still have happened that way had I made a different choice earlier or spent more time proving my loyalty to a particular faction. That's exactly the experience I'm looking for in an RPG.

Greedfall w/ UncleJasper! It's Witcher 3 with fancy hats!

Come check out Greedfall, a new action RPG by SPIDERS

Posted by TheGamer on Thursday, September 12, 2019

Further, the skill trees effect not just how you engage in combat, but also how you complete quests and solve problems. You can skill your character in a number of ways that creates moments of satisfaction when you happen to have the right skill in the right moment. Charisma seemed to go a long way in many negotiations, but lock picking and climbing can also get you out of a lot more jams than you would think. The character progression in Greedfall is exactly what you would want from a game like this.

In dialogue, the charisma talent can be very helpful, but more importantly, having the right companion can make all the difference. Each of the companions represent one of the factions you'll encounter, and bringing the right person to a negotiation is often rewarded with an easier path to completing your goal. The companions cannot be individually  leveled or commanded on the battlefield, which is something I was really hoping for, but their value outside of combat has such a huge impact that I felt connected to each of them. I switched them out appropriately throughout the game, which is something I don't typically do in RPGs and a habit I'd like to break.

En Garde, Scallywags!

I hate to have a soft opinion about this, but combat in Greedfall is just ok. It's perfectly serviceable, albeit it takes about a dozen hours before it starts to get challenging and engaging. Frankly, I didn't think The Witcher's combat was very memorable, either. So if you're hoping for something Souls-like, you might be better off waiting for Nioh 2.

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You have access to a variety of 1 and 2-handed melee weapons, as well as magic attacks, traps, and guns. You can, and should, weave all these attacks together in order to weaken your enemy with armor-reducing damage, build your rage meter with quick sword attacks, manage your spacing with spells, and dump your mana bar with long range magic attacks. It's not particularly nuanced even when it's all working together, and most of the enemies can be battled exactly the same way. It isn't a chore, but I also wouldn't go as far as to say it's fun.

Greedfall shines when it's presenting you with problems to solve that have multiple solutions and when dialogue options are forcing you to make difficult decisions that will have consequences. I found myself falling deeper and deeper into long involved side quests despite my best efforts to blast through the game and get this review out as soon as possible because I was just having too much fun learning about life in Teer Fradee. If you long for the days of Bioware's rich worlds filled with interesting characters and choices, you'll have fun exploring the world of Greedfall. It was never going to be as good or as important as The Witcher, but it scratches that itch. It's The Witcher Boy, and if you ask me, that's worth your time.

3.5 Out Of Five Stars

A review copy of Greedfall was provided to TheGamer. Greedfall is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.

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