GREED­FALL

SPI­DERS EN­TERS UN­CHARTED TER­RI­TORY WITH THIS RPG

XBox: The Official Magazine - - CONTENTS - AARON POT­TER

The re­mit for most modern open-world RPGs these days is to go big­ger in the hopes of be­ing con­sid­ered bet­ter. And to this Greed­fall shakes its fist, cut­ting through a lot of the noise found in much higher bud­geted games of its ilk to in­stead fo­cus on what makes the genre great. This means plac­ing an em­pha­sis on player choice, in­ter­est­ing party mem­bers and, rather un­ex­pect­edly, spi­ralling quest design. All three of which mightn’t be any­thing new, per se, yet they still nicely com­bine to make this un­der­dog feel all the more charm­ing – even if its pre­sen­ta­tion is a lit­tle rough around the edges.

Com­ing off the back of pre­vi­ous medi­ocre re­leases like The Tech­no­mancer and Bound By Flame, we’ll ad­mit that we didn’t have too much hope for Greed­fall as the lat­est game from French de­vel­oper Spi­ders. How­ever, by rewind­ing the clock way back to the colo­nial era and mix­ing in cer­tain Tolkien fan­tasy tropes, it seems like the stu­dio may have fi­nally found its groove. Both pe­riod and set­ting are in­her­ently unique, which makes ven­tur­ing out into it as your char­ac­ter De Sardet – playable as man or woman – never bor­ing.

Plague tale

As legate to one of three fac­tions new to the is­land of Teer Fradee you swiftly be­come the res­i­dent prob­lem­solver, run­ning er­rands on be­half of your cousin Con­stan­tine who’s been pro­moted to gover­nor and is at­tempt­ing to pro­mote peace with the many indige­nous tribes. Your main pur­pose here is to find a cure for the Mali­chor virus cur­rently plagu­ing your home­land. And if there’s one crime Greed­fall’s over­all story com­mits, it’s leav­ing this main plight un­re­solved un­til the very late hours of the game.

Un­til you reach that 30-hour mark, how­ever, Greed­fall does an ex­cel­lent job at dis­tract­ing you, show­er­ing you with a litany of side-quests that have clearly learned a thing or two from The Witcher 3. One quest early on, for ex­am­ple, be­gins by hav­ing you set­tle a per­mit dis­pute be­tween a mar­ket stall and the state, only for you to end up in a fight­ing pit bat­tling it out to se­cure a tribesman’s in­no­cence by its end. Al­most all of Greed­fall’s side-ven­tures have a ten­dency to twist and turn in this way, coloured even fur­ther by let­ting you choose how to ap­proach them. Dif­fer­ent skills like charisma and agility let you solve prob­lems in a va­ri­ety of ways.

Help­ing you on this jour­ney in true RPG fash­ion is a suite of ro­mance­able party mem­bers, each boast­ing their own com­bat skills that come in handy when bat­tling beast­ies in any of the sev­eral world hubs that make up Teer Fradee. There are five of these avail­able to swap in and out of your group at any time, and much like De Sardet, all can be up­graded with new weapons and gear. Na­tive princess Siora and war cap­tain Kurt were our main­stays, though, the for­mer sup­port­ing us well with her use­ful ranged at­tacks and heal abil­ity. Kurt’s

affin­ity for two-handed weapons, mean­while, got us out of a pinch on more than one oc­ca­sion.

Speak­ing of which, if you’re look­ing for in-depth com­bat Greed­fall, doesn’t quite de­liver. Bouts are just a sim­ple case of know­ing when to parry and dodge be­fore you go in for the kill yourself – even the few boss bat­tles won’t force you to shake up these tac­tics much. A pow­er­ful ‘fury’ at­tack can be un­leashed to deal heavy da­m­age once its meter is fully charged, but it all just comes across as a lit­tle unin­spired. Luck­ily, much of this is made up for by the abil­ity to craft gear or im­prove it by way of slot­ting in key items. All the ef­fects of these can def­i­nitely be felt in bat­tle.

“Noth­ing will dis­tract you from the story more than the poor lip-sync­ing”

Fall down

There’s a lot to be de­sired just from a pure tech­ni­cal per­spec­tive, too, sadly. Be­cause, de­spite look­ing quite beau­ti­ful at times – the many open forests and dense city spa­ces make great use of be­liev­able light­ing – noth­ing will dis­tract you from the story more than the in­cred­i­bly poor lip-sync­ing, repet­i­tive in­te­ri­ors and ram­pant tex­ture pop-in. None of these are enough to ruin the ex­pe­ri­ence when taken alone, but oc­ca­sion­ally they’ll oc­cur in such quick suc­ces­sion that it’s im­pos­si­ble not to be sucked out of any im­mer­sion; Greed­fall’s true iden­tity as a mid-tier ti­tle aim­ing for dou­ble the scope is re­vealed in these in­stances. At best, it adds to its charm. At worst, though, these hic­cups rip you out of what is other­wise an en­gag­ing tale.

In the end, Greed­fall can’t quite muster up enough of its own cre­ative ideas to usurp any of the RPG greats, but that doesn’t mean its ten­dency to riff on es­tab­lished traits makes it any less en­dear­ing. There’s a clear at­tempt here to bring the best of Bioware, CD Pro­jekt Red and cer­tain Ubisoft epics to­gether all un­der one roof; it’s just that some­times do­ing this serves as a re­minder that there are other, more pol­ished games out there in this vein you could be play­ing. Say­ing that, Greed­fall un­der­stands that some­times smaller is bet­ter. As such, a pared-back scope and thought­ful quest design ab­so­lutely works in its favour. ■

LEFT Crea­tures are inspired by var­i­ous fan­tasy tales, adding to the unique­ness of the set­ting.

RIGHT There are sev­eral items of gear De Sardet and their party can equip, tiered from grey to gold.

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