We got a code from PR for this one, so thanks to them for this opportunity!

Spider's Web

I will preface this review with the following: I'm fond of Spiders' game studio, they remind me of CD Projekt Red in their infancy and they have a small team that are capable of doing a lot with less budget and resources than many Triple-A game industry developers.

Spiders did Mars: War Logs, Bound by Flame, and the Technomancer but they have never been as ambitious as they have with a game like Greedfall.

I'm also going to say right up-front that I found Greedfall a pure pleasure to play on the Xbox One X and it hasn't had a single issue for me from a graphical/frame-rate perspective. It has been rock-solid and stable. Not a single crash or lock up.

In this day and age of games that come out barely finished - or crash your console so hard that it switches off (looking at you Borderlands 3) Greedfall is a breath of fresh air.

I'm reminded out of the gate of my love for early Bioware, and such games as Dragon Age: Origins or Knights of the Old Republic.

What is Greedfall?

Greedfall is a third-person action RPG with a deep story, well written characters, and an interesting premise that mixes colonial settlement of a new world with a dash of Errol Flynn swashbuckling and a helping of carefully concocted magic. Now some folks might find the colonialism aspect of Greedfall off-putting, or hard to swallow. It's handled pretty well, and if it makes you uncomfortable to realise that all of the factions who're on the Island of Teer Fradee want something for nothing, and don't care who they trample over to get it, then good: that's what it is supposed to feel like.

Who do you play?

You play the cousin of the Prince Constantin; you are De Sadet, the Legate of the Congregation of Merchants and someone who is at the top part of the ladder before you even start. This is pretty important since it changes the way you approach the game, or it should, since this isn't a story about being a nobody and rising to power - it's about using your power for good or ill as you interact with a new world and use/abuse or work with the native population to get what you want.

The choice is yours, every step of the way.

Out of the gate you can play male or female, pick from a nice selection of customisation options and create a De Sadet you want to play. You can choose some basic skills, attributes, and talents in chargen too - remember though - these are not bound in stone. You could have a quick-witted, one-handed blade specialist who does not bother with magic at all.

Or perhaps you want: a two handed hammer-wielding battle mage.

The Choice is Yours!

It is up to you to experiment and craft the De Sadet that supports the way you want to play, as you play. You will gain experience points, the currency of levelling in many RPGS and each level you'll get a skill point, and after that you'll level some more and get attribute and talent points. The game is good at telling you at what level your next point is for both attribute and talents.

Your De Sadet's skills are where you'll shape the character to be a fighter, a mage, or a hybrid of some kind. You can use your points to buy from a skill tree which reminds me in many ways of the first Witcher game.

There are martial paths that cover: one handed, two-handed, blunt. There are academic or aesthetic paths that cover the use of traps/bombs/magic and putting poison on your weapons.

When it comes to attributes you will need to invest points to be able to wield the best weapons, and armour in the game. These stats boost things like your damage, your armour damage, and so forth.

Finally, talents will allow you to do things like pick locks, use alchemy outside of combat, and be more intuitive when it comes to situations - or even more charismatic.

It's worth taking time looking at the way these systems work and pre-planning your build as you go. Of course, you can use memory reset crystals to re-spec so you're not locked into the same build if you decide you want to turn your swashbuckler into a combat mage.

I found the chargen and the skill system intuitive and I've built a pretty cool De Sadet who's a definitely gone down a more martial path. The way skill points come in from the levels and from the skill shrines, you won't have a problem getting the De Sadet you want in that regard either.

You need to be a little more careful with your attributes and talent points, since they only drip in every few levels compared to skills.

A Brave New World

Spiders have never attempted something as ambitious as Greedfall before. Seriously huge compared to their last games put together. Whilst it isn't open world per-se, it has several massive areas full of interesting locations to explore and creatures to fight. I don't want to say too much in this regard, since I really don't like spoilers - it's also why you won't find a single thread about the plot barring what the game's developers/publisher have already shown via trailers.

A disease is killing your people, and now they've come to a new land to find a cure. That's the basics and you are the Legate (a fancy diplomat) who serves your cousin, the new governor of Teer Fradee.

You must venture forth from New Serene and explore the island, interact with the natives, other governors and people in general - there's a lot to do, plenty of side quests and exploration out there.

There's enough here to hook folks in and there's a plot full of twists and turns awaiting you.

Exploring Teer Fradee

Exploring these new lands and this new world is a pleasure. Not only is the game running on Spider's engine, but it's actually quite beautiful and there's a lot of care here in the environmental design. Yes, you'll encounter blocks to your exploration - usually cleared as the story progresses or as a mission requires. Some of the blocks are countered by investing in the right things: a high vigour for example can allow you to climb where you could not before. Intuition can reveal a secret gap in a rock face and let you slip right on through.

These side paths often lead to neat treasures or to different ways into a heavily guarded camp allowing you to sneak in.

Quests can often be completed in a variety of ways, there is a pretty robust dialogue tree and you can venture forth with up to two other companions drawn from the roster of folk you'll meet on the way through the game's expansive campaign.

The game encourages you to play your way, and many times I've been offered some pretty good moral choices and been made to think about my actions. You can rush in and swing that sword, or blast magic, or you can sneak - yep - the game has a Metal Gear Solid style sneaking system where your foes have awareness states and you can even backstab.

Magic assassin swashbuckler? Right, I'm in!

Party of Three

Your companions have their own side quests, they have their own wants and needs and their own interactions. Again, I'm not going to go into detail here - exploration is best if you discover these things and attitudes for yourself. There's a pleasure in learning about these characters, and they are refreshingly well written.

As you adventure with them and you earn their trust you'll unlock certain perks, such as gaining a single point in Science which allows you to create potions etc without needing to invest points into that particular aspect.

So it is worth doing all the side quests for all the NPCs. Plus they are genuinely interesting stories that hooked me in to the end.

Your companions also level as you do, and whilst you can't assign points, you can customise their gear.

They help out in a fight and they are surprisingly competent.

Talking of Battle

I found the combat system in Greedfall was pretty robust once I got the hang of it. It is simple enough, and there are some nuances. You can pause with the left bumper and issue commands that way, this means you could play the whole thing in stop-motion time if you want. I preferred to use the action combat though, and effortlessly swish my flamberge around in a showy fashion whilst blocking/parrying to send my foe reeling.

Later I switched to a long blade style and my huge claymore does wonders for clearing groups.

You can also assign short-cuts to the d-pad and so on for use in battle if you need to quickly toss a bomb, set a trap, drink a potion or use a Fury Attack.

Fury?

So, you build up a bar which is under your main health bar. Once full you can unleash a powerful attack known as a Fury Attack. This will cause serious damage, unbalance your enemy and do other effects depending.

Fury can also power a Rage like mode, or allow you to toss a deadly poison bomb.

It's a fun combat system and it gets better the more you invest in those skills.

I enjoyed the combat so much I was actively picking fights with creatures when I saw them. Once I got the dodge skill I was impressed with how fluid the whole thing looks as you battle against the monsters of the island.

The Art of Getting What you Need

There's a lot of dialogue in Greedfall, a lot of story, and a lot of exposition. It is worth talking to everyone you can, learning as much lore as you can about this fascinating new world and you never know - you might open up a dialogue you didn't know was hidden in the dialogue tree of the NPC you're talking to.

Your companions might have something to say to help out; you might be able to use your Charisma or even your Intuition to sway someone to your way of thinking.

It's worth thinking about who to bring along when you meet a new person in a quest.

Taking someone native to see a person who despises the natives, perhaps not a great idea, but it can lead to a different outcome.

Talking of outcomes - there are choices/consequences and some of them are not obvious until later on in the game.

There are also factions to think on and playing nice with one, might upset the others, it's up to you to work it out though.

Rewards are given for being friendly with a faction.

That's all I'll say though.

Gearing Up

There's a lot of loot to be found in Greedfall, and whilst some of it can be sold or broken down for parts, there's a lot you'll want to use and equip on your character or party members. Thankfully there's a really solid crafting system in the game, which just requires a work bench and a camp.

There are camps you can set up in the maps as you explore, and you always have an intermission camp as you transition 'fast travel' from area to area. This little rest spot comes with a fire to rest, a work bench, and even a shop. You can often get your companions to open up with side quests here as well when they feel like it.

I love this idea so much. It grounds you into the world, and provides a nice change of pace from area to area.

At the bench you can create new upgrades for your gear. Change out various weapon parts and give stat boosts to various aspects of your weapons/armour/gear.

These also change the visual look of the gear.

17th Century Aesthetic

I love RPGs, be they on video game formats or tabletop. I'm a big fan of tabletop RPGs and I've been writing for the industry since 2000. I have played a heck of a lot of them, and once of my all-time favourites is John Wick's 7th Sea. Greedfall reminds me of 7th Sea a lot, and I love the fact that Spiders went this direction with their aesthetic and created a wonderful 17th Century swashbuckling style adventure.

The Island of Teer Fradee is different though, this is a land steeped in a very interesting culture and perhaps it's because I'm from the UK and my blood is Welsh that I see the natives of the Island as being a distinct flavour of Celtic in their design.

I love it.

Spiders have gone the extra mile with the native islanders' designs, their visuals and just the whole language aspect of the game. With the help of a language expert they've crafted a people who feel very real, a people whom I want to learn more about.

Excellent job!

Beautiful and Deadly

This is really the sub heading for the graphics part of the review. Yeah, the game looks pretty and there are truly some stunning visuals here as you explore. I won't spoil a single one in the review either, but a few of them took my breath away and forced me to stop and just wander through the area to look.

The same can be said of the various character designs and there's a solid level of detail across the whole graphics side of the game. Animations are good, and there are some great combat animations assigned to the creatures and enemies you'll face.

From the minor foes to the honking great boss-style monsters that have skulls next to their names.

Advice: run or be prepared for a hard slog.

Saving Grace

Save anywhere with a very nice auto-save system and a manual save that lets you create a variety of saves to see different outcomes if you want.

The Art of the Voice

The voice work here varies and you can hear a lot of the same VAs across the different NPCs. That's fine, Spiders don't have the gigantic pool of talent to draw from or the money of the AAA industry - they put together a solid cast and I know some of these voices from the Witcher games too. I hear a certain Vernon Roche in there numerous times and I adore that guy's voice.

I also totally love both VAs for the male/female De Sadet.

If I had a single complaint I'd probably say that the combat dialogue lines from certain party members are said a little too much, and there needs to be a bit more variation - a minor complaint though.

Twittering Birds

I can't talk about the sound design without giving props to the excellent ambient audio that plays as you explore the game world. This is what really brings you into the game, pulls you into the world itself and brings the graphics to life around you.

Sweeping Majesty

I am a sucker for a grand soundtrack and Olivier Derivere has delivered one for Greedfall. The orchestral music for the game is beautiful; sweeping, majestic and brings to mind grand adventure when the themes for the island invaders are presented. Then it takes a turn into the magical for the various native lands and their clans. A superb soundtrack all round!

Ambition and Scope

Greedfall is an ambitious game, a big game, one that has a lot of moving parts and I have not experienced an issue with it. This is a rarity in this particular game industry, one that has to be praised and encouraged. Greedfall does not feel like a half-baked project, one that was rushed to completion and whilst there are a few minor issues here and there with some of the NPC pathing and one moment where an NPC hovered above her chair in a cut-scene ... this is minor compared to some of the game breaking bugs other games have presented.

The story is compelling and the game won't be over in a flash either, I'm still playing side quests and doing exploration and I've clocked about 60 hours or more so far.

Greedfall is superb and I have no qualms about recommending this to folk who miss Bioware in their hey-day and want a decent action RPG that has a solid story and interesting writing.

Spiders, thank you for delivering a game that's as close to the 7th Sea tabletop RPG as I can get in video game format.

If you haven't got this game yet folks, get it, watch someone stream it, just support developers like this so we can get more of the same with even more polish.

As Nemesis the Warlock would say, "Credo!"