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A Diamond in the Rough: GreedFall

These aren't the colors of the wind.

Hey folks, how are you all doing? Staying safe, I hope? Things are pretty crazy out there right now, but here at ACS, I'm going to continue what I've always done, pretend people read this site. A while ago I mentioned keeping an eye on an upcoming RPG called GreedFall. Well it's been out for a while (looks around awkwardly) and having completed it, I think it deserves a bit of attention.

GreedFall is a game that's easy to overlook. It's an RPG put out by French game studio Spiders, who don't have the strongest reputation. Most of their past games have gotten poor or average reviews. Plus, with so much coming out right now, I think most people don't want to waste their time on mediocre games. Well I'm to tell you that Spiders has succeeded this time, they've put out a quality RPG that is worth your time, especially if you're a BioWare fan, like me.

The story of GreedFall has your classic RPG set up. You play customizable protagonist De Sardet, who travels along with their cousin to the newly discovered island-continent of Teer Fradee, a magical land that all the great powers are trying to establish a foothold in. You belong to the Congregation of Merchants, a neutral faction that has decent relations with all the major players. Your cousin is the newly appointed Governor of the Congregations colony on the island; you act as his Legate (ambassador), and it's up to you to make alliances (or break them) with the other factions. But that's not the only reason you've come. The home continent is being ravaged by a magical disease called the malichor, that's killing the population, and you hope that Teer Fradee may hold the cure. If you can't find one, your home will die.

Game-play wise, GreedFall is similar to Dragon Age: Inquisition. Combat takes place in real time (with a pause button for strategy purposes); you have a quick attack, a strong attack, a special attack, and a host of abilities you can map to suit your play-style. Unlike Dragon Age, GreedFall doesn't lock you into a certain class. Instead there are three main skill trees; melee, technical, and magic, and you can pick from all of them. Of course, the farther you go with one skill tree, the more powerful those abilities become. I played a Mage, with a couple of points in melee and technical so I wield a hammer and fire guns. That's right, unlike your usual fantasy RPG, this one has guns and gunpowder. That said, seeing as the aesthetic is more renaissance than medieval, it makes sense.

Story wise, the game ended up exceeding my expectations. The factions are all interesting, and all have their competing interests. You've got the highly religious nation, the secular scientist nation, the sailors, and the natives (who are less than pleased at outsiders coming and carving up their land). At first glance this seems stereotypical, but the more you play, the more you see it's more nuanced than that. The missions for this game are excellent. There are no fetch quests, instead every quest either ties into the main story, the factions or your companions' backstories. Even better, these all intersect (similar to The Witcher 3) in a way that builds the world and builds on the consequences of your choices. These choices can affect yourself, other factions, and your companions.

The five companions (two of which you can bring with you at any given moment) are all well written and fleshed out, and while I liked some better than others (as always happens), all of them were interesting. In fact, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how well written the companions were. Father Petrus, your resident magic user, is a Priest from a nation of religious fanatics. I assumed I wasn't going to like this character, he ended up being one of my favorite companions. Far from being a fanatic, his faith is given subtlety and nuance, even as it's a main aspect of his character. And of course, like a classic BioWare game, four of your five companions are romanceable.

GreedFall isn't perfect, it's glitchy in places, it needs more environmental variety, and it could definitely have used some more polish. Still, this is a good effort from Spiders. From what I've read, GreedFall was relatively successful, and I hope that lets them continue to improve as a studio. I'd love it if they could slide into that spot BioWare used to occupy, because they're currently busy working on how to best disappoint me with Dragon Age 4. Like a diamond in the rough, GreedFall is flawed and needs more polish, but glances of greatness are there, and for anyone who misses Dragon Age and Mass Effect, I recommend it.

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