GreedFall Review

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Eschalon: Book II

Publisher:Focus Home Interactive
Release Date:2019-09-10
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Greedfall is the latest role-playing game from Spiders, the French developer behind such titles as Of Orcs and Men, Mars: War Logs, and The Technomancer. The game is available for the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. I played the PC version, thanks to a Steam token provided by the game's publisher, Focus Home Interactive.

In Greedfall, you play as de Sardet, the legate of the Congregation of Merchants. Your nation is being ravaged by a deadly plague, and when you hear that a newly-colonized island has plants with unidentified healing powers, you decide to go there and look for a cure. Of course, other nations head for the island as well, and that means you have to mix together combat, exploration, and diplomacy as you work your way through the game's campaign.

According to the fact sheet I was given, Greedfall is inspired by "Baroque art from 17th century Europe." If that description doesn't mean anything to you, then let me try my own version. The game could easily be modded so that you're playing Ponce de Leon sailing to Florida to search for the Fountain of Youth. Or, in more simplified terms, you get to play a swashbuckler. I don't know if that makes Greedfall unique, but the premise was new for me, and I've never heard of another game called a "colonial RPG."


The first thing you do in Greedfall is create your character. You can be male or female, but this choice is mostly cosmetic. It only affects which of your companions you can romance (unlike many modern RPGs, nobody in Greedfall is gay, so you can only flirt with characters of the opposite gender). You also get to adjust your appearance, but there aren't a lot of options for this, which is a disappointment given how often your character's face ends up on screen. And annoyingly, you're not allowed to name your character. This wouldn't change anything in the game -- everybody just calls you de Sardet -- but it would make organizing saved games easier. Without any sort of profile information, the saves are all just jumbled together.

Characters are defined by three things: skills, attributes, and talents. Each level, characters gain a skill point. Skills mostly unlock weapons and spells, and improve how they work. Weapons can be light or heavy, one-handed or two-handed, melee or ranged. There are also special "magic ring" weapons for spellcasters. Spells include things like heal, shield, and shadow burst, which deals area-effect damage. You're also allowed some "technique" skills, like setting traps and throwing bombs. So the skills give you lots of options for how you want to deal with your opponents.

Every three levels, characters gain an attribute point. The attributes are Accuracy (for guns), Agility (for light weapons), Endurance (for health), Mental Power (for spells), Strength (for heavy weapons), and Willpower (for mana). Along with boosting your character, attributes also restrict what types of equipment you can use. Armor requires Endurance, jewelry requires Willpower, and weapons require their associated attribute. I focused on one-handed light weapons in the game (because I prefer faster attacks), and so I maxed out Agility but also put points in Accuracy, Endurance, and Willpower to round out my character.

Finally, after every four levels, characters gain a talent point. Talents are things you use outside of combat, including Charisma (for persuasion), Craftsmanship (for improving armor), Intuition (for extra dialogue options), Lockpicking (for opening locks), Science (for crafting bombs and potions), and Vigor (for climbing and jumping). Oddly, talents only go up to rank 3, and you can receive ranks from your equipment and companions, making it pretty easy to reach a maximum of ranks with a minimum of points. As an example, any time I wanted to craft anything, I just wore my +1 Craftsmanship gloves and invited the +1 Craftsmanship companion into my party, and that gave me 2/3 points right there. I didn't have to invest a talent point into Craftsmanship until late in the game, because it simply wasn't necessary.