There are mysteries and answers, and quests,
and adventures Ö
Geneforge, from Spiderweb Software, is a PC role-playing game
that harkens back to the older days of software games. The
graphical elements are somewhat simplistic, trying to capture a
three-dimensional feel with only two real dimensions. The combat
is turn based, depending on movement steps ≠ which can be your
undoing ≠ but the guiding force to this game is choice.
What Geneforge may lack in visual candy, or fail to entice with
its audio track, it manages to overcome with an entertaining
storyline and solid game play.
Yours is the lot of shapers, a clan or discipline that can
recreate life, and can forge new elements and new creatures. As
a novitiate, you set out upon your journey, only to have the
life-craft you are upon attacked. You land upon an island which
was banned, or barred. But the island of Sucia is hardly bereft
of life. There are serviles, those who used to serve the shaper
masters, as well as bandits and monsters to fight.
Upon landing, game players will be treated to two realms which
serve as the tutorial. You will learn how to shape life ≠ more
specifically fyoras, a lizard that will accompany you and cast
fire bolts at your enemies. The amount of essence points you
spend on the fyora (for those who have played RPGs before,
consider essence akin to mana), determines its intelligence,
ability, et cetera. If you spend the bare minimum and just
create the fyora, it can go wild and attack you at the most
This game is rife with large game boards and 77 different
locations. There are things to discover at every turn, and ≠ as
mentioned ≠ choices you will have to make. In the town of
Vakkiri, you will receive a quest from an Awakened Servile to
seek out the Taker spy in the village and report back who it is.
When you encounter the Taker spy, he will ask you to kill the
elder leader of the Awakened.
The Awakened have come to understand that they are on equal
footing with their Shaper masters ≠ and yep, because you are the
first Shaper they have seen, they are nervous. But there are
others trying to undermine the Awakened. That would be the
Obeyers and the Takers.
Combat is not the only option you have. You can choose the
peaceful approach; however, you will need leadership points in
order to negotiate well. As you complete quests and journey
forth within the game, you will level up, and you will get skill
points to improve your powers.
You can steal, but you may be seen, and if so, that creates a
reputation. If you kill major characters, you develop a
reputation and not only will some villages be opening hostile to
you, but you may draw attacks.
What some games purport as mana (magic casting ability that
regenerates over time), Geneforge is not so generous. If, while
at a lower level, create a fyora, you may not have the ability
to heal yourself in a battle.
The game does have other elements that are quite in line with
RPGs. You will have a paper doll and inventory in the interface.
You simply drag elements from the inventory onto the paper doll
to equip them.
The game did not come with a manual, but rather has an
electronic file that, while easily accessed, does not do a very
good job in explaining the nuances of the game. In this regard
there was a lot of trial and error. Fortunately the game does
have a very good save system which allows players to tinker with
some of the game elements without having to pay the price of
starting all over again.
When it comes to the actual game play, Geneforge is quite
smooth. Transition (or travel) time between areas happens
quickly, and the game plays well. The story and dialogue is all
written, which requires a lot of reading. Some conversations
will head in different directions, depending on which question
you choose to ask, but most eventually will return full circle
to the starting questions.
When it comes to the sound quality of this game, it really isnít
that good. Eating sounds (which are munching sounds) are
overblown, there is some audio break-up and the effects are not
that well done.
Visually the game is simplistic. No camera angles or options,
the animation is kept simple and the environments, while well
done, are overly detailed. If you remember some of the old
Commodore 64 RPGs, you will have an idea what you will see here.
All that said Geneforge still manages to interest and entertain.
All your avatar wants to do is get off the island, but, to
paraphrase, life is what happens when you are busy making other
plans. In that regard, this is a well-conceived storyline.
Geneforge will not appeal to all RPG fans, but if you are interested
more in story, and in quests, than in eye candy, you should enjoy