October 24, 2019
Platforms: PC/Xbox One/Playstation 4
Release Date: September 9th, 2019
Storytelling: 4/5; Great story
Control: 3/5; You will die if you use the rapier
Immersion: 5/5; Even the way characters talk is immersive
My name is De Sardet. I am legate of the Merchant Congregation here on Teer Fradee.
On the battlefield you see muskets firing, men gunning down a young, shirtless indigenous warrior. His mouth opens and closes, then opens again, trying to speak his language in vain. As a well-educated noble, you know it is the hole in his lungs that makes him unable to speak. Yet, you can clearly see his bloodshot eyes filled with tears. Was it because of the pain, or something else? While you stand there, pondering, the native warrior struggles to get up, and begins running at you with his weapon in the air. Another gunshot is fired by your most trusted companion, and the man falls down, the bullet burning the last bit of life out of him.
This is Greedfall.
It is extremely bold for a studio to make a game about colonialism; even most big companies wouldn’t dare to cross that line. Yet after Greedfall released, it made people realize that the concept itself can make a product that is a piece of art. The game itself is an open-world action/RPG set in a fantasy/discovery era hybrid universe. You play as De Sardet, the legate (diplomat) of a state called the Merchant Congregation. De Sardet is the cousin of Constantin d’Orsay, governor of the new-founded island colony, New Serene. With the discovery of this new island, city ports stimulate its economy to an unprecedented stage, making the Merchant Congregation play an important role in the political games played there.
Based off European city-states, the Congregation is not the only fictional group in the game. There are four other factions: the Bridge Alliance, Theleme, Coin Guard and Naut, all of which are also filled with stereotypical elements. Bridge Alliance is a Middle Eastern-inspired pedantocracy that led the technological advance into the present. However, they also secretly perform human experiments in order to cure the Malichor, a terrifying disease similar to the Black Death, an important part of the story. Theleme is a theocratic state where everybody dresses like Dutch priests and plays with magic. They believed that sorcerers caused the Malichor, so they established witch-hunts in everywhere. The Coin Guard seem to be simple mercenaries in the beginning, yet if the player digs deeper into the plot of the game, they will find out that the Guard’s administration is unbelievably chaotic and decadent, something that impacts the story. The Nauts are a Maori-like navigator guild that dominate transportation. Although they are the only normal group on the island, they do have some brutish traditions. Their society is extremely discriminatory, leaving you with the choice of acting kindly them them despite their persecution of others, or dealing with the problem head on.
Greedfall, at the end of the day, is a story about corruption. Do you ignore the carnage being wrought upon the native population to preserve diplomatic relations with the colonizers? Will you fight beside the oppressed “savages,” even if you must leave thousands of your own people to die to do so?
The developers of this game, Spiders, is a small studio, which usually results in poor visual for games. Greedfall is different. Yes, the graphics are not as realistic as those in a AAA game, yet once you enter the game, the art style, almost like an oil painting, will quickly submerge you into the world of Greedfall. From the plagued city to the wilderness, the game delivers a great variety of artwork. Decks of ships, the barely visible outline of land under the grey-blue sky, sea breeze caressing the face of De Sardet, and thick, epic orchestra slowly playing as if it’s narrating the history of the old world—that’s the impression you get in Greedfall. The game is remarkably immersive.
The only parts of the game which I personally don’t like are the controls and the weapons. The actual fighting is a mix of that of Dark Souls and The Witcher; however, the weapon system is incredibly off-balanced. Players with firearms can easily shoot an experienced veteran to death in 5 seconds, while others who prefer melee combat need to duel for at least 5 minutes to get the same effect. I suppose that is historically accurate, though. Luckily, the game will let you choose the difficulty.
In conclusion, if you want to experience an immersive fantasy adventure, enjoy telling lies again and again, or studying the inner logic of romanticized colonialism, please step onto the soil of Teer Fradee and begin your journey of black powder, flesh and nature.