Released this past September by small indie developer Spiders Games, GreedFall is in many ways the little game that could. It also feels a lot like a game from the Dragon Age franchise--which is great news for BioWare fans thirsting for a new game to explore and entirely intentional on Spiders' part.
GreedFall is an action roleplaying game set in a 17th-century fantasy world, complete with magic, swords, monsters, and fancy swashbuckling headgear. Sound like a familiar formula? GreedFall may not be the big triple-A title fans have been keeping watch for (which is why it has flown under the radar for some), but for all intents and purposes, it's this year's honorary Dragon Age game.
Let's start with one basic and key parallel: the characters. Dragon Age always heavily emphasized its major characters, factions, and their relationship to the player character, and GreedFall does the same. There's a core cast of five companions to de Sardet (the player character), each with their own personalities and backstories that are addressed over the course of the game. Spiders crafted its companions well, making them one of the most compelling shared traits between GreedFall and Dragon Age, which fans of the latter franchise are sure to appreciate in a new original setting.
Jumping to game mechanics, GreedFall has the typical three basic character classes: warrior, rogue, and mage--though GreedFall's class design is more fluid and players can mix and match classes if they wish. Abilities also play into the dialogue options that players get, and when it comes to actual gameplay, players can handle or diffuse a situation with combat, stealth, or diplomacy--qualities particularly emphasized in the leveling system of Dragon Age: Origins. So GreedFall's combat and exploration feel a lot like a Dragon Age game, especially with the variation in outcome depending on how players deal with a situation.
There's also the quest system, consisting of main quests, secondary quests, and bounty missions. And thankfully, GreedFall's secondary missions aren't superfluous--they're quite deep. Those include a series of missions for each companion, which are actually longer and more involved in the game's main plot than a good deal of Dragon Age companion missions. Either way, both games approach those missions in a similar manner: skip them or mess them up, and there may be dire unforeseen consequences later on.
But diving deeper into GreedFall's quests means addressing its story. One thing that always made Dragon Age stand out from the crowd was its message and narrative impact. GreedFall isn't shy about stepping up to do the same, and its quests are all cleverly intertwined with one another in a way that plays out over the course of the game. The plot sees de Sardet searching for a cure to a deadly disease while managing factions on the island of Teer Fradee. The game's themes center on the evils of colonialism, the importance of being environmentally conscious, and the true value of found family--even if Dragon Age's themes and choices differ, the outcome for both is an emotional experience.
If there's one surefire addition to any Dragon Age game, it's romance. Not critical to the plot but adding that extra lure to get players invested, and it seems Spiders took note: GreedFall also contains four romances for players to explore. So Dragon Age players for whom romance is a major draw--or even a dealbreaker--when selecting other games will enjoy the romantic subplots with de Sardet's companions, which include a seasoned mercenary, a healer native to the island, a brilliant scientist, and the sea captain whose ship de Sardet arrives on.
Anyone who plays Dragon Age knows the appeal of its twists, turns, and ultimately its varied endings; that emotional sucker-punch (in either a good or bad way, depending on choices) each ending doles out to players. Turns out, GreedFall knows how to pack a hefty punch too. It's shorter than Inquisition by far, but players can still get attached to its characters...and receive an emotional payoff for their efforts later on.
So here's the long and short of it: GreedFall is a game sometimes constrained by the size and budget of its maker, but that doesn't stop it from having a whole lot of heart--and heart is probably the biggest thing that Dragon Age and GreedFall share. Sure, it's fun to hunt monsters and explore large maps, but there are plenty of RPGs to offer that besides these two. Dragon Age at its core is a narrative and character-driven experience more than anything else; that's its magic, and Spiders knew that when it designed the world of GreedFall.
GreedFall is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.