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Publisher: Spiderweb Software    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: 601    RAM: 30 MB    Hard Disk: 25 MB    Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit

April 3, 2002 | Christopher Morin

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Geneforge is a shareware game from Spiderweb Software. Geneforge is an RPG game that delivers a cunning storyline in a world where the class with all the power is called the Shapers. The Shapers, possessors of the oldest and most powerful form of magic, use their skills and magic to create life to do their bidding. The game starts out telling the player that he is a newly frocked Shaper and is being sent to a Shaper colony on a distant island to begin his apprenticeship and learn the secrets of the Shapers. Along the way, the living vessel the Shaper is riding, a dryak, is attacked by a mysterious craft. The critically wounded dryak dies only after rescuing the drowning Shaper and depositing him on a deserted island. You are that Shaper. You are only newly accepted into the Shaper ranks, so your skills are almost non-existent. Also, you realize that this island is one that is marked at “barred” on the map you had with you on your voyage. The only reason Shapers barred an island is if some experiment went terribly wrong. You now have to find a way off this potentially very dangerous island.

The first few areas of the 77 on the map are a sort of training ground for the player to get used to movement and combat. The early combat and discovery are easy. The game is very communicative to teach you about your surroundings and reveal the story to you in some subtle and some not so subtle ways. It will hint, strongly, that you should look in certain places or talk to certain people. There are three options from which the player can choose. You can choose to move through the island as a Shaper without any Shaper, a Guardian (the class devoted to protecting the Shapers), or an Agent

The story is very engrossing, almost from the start. Your character sees serviles, creations of the Shapers, which apparently can survive, and have survived for some time, without their Shaper creators. The goal of the game is to find out who is attempting to wrest control of the Shaper’s magical power and use it for his own purposes – in addition to getting off the island.

Interface Features
One handy feature of Geneforge is the ability to record conversations with various characters in the game. More important characters generally are named and unimportant characters just have a title (e.g. guard). If a conversation seems memorable to you, you can click on “record” during the dialog and that conversation will be added to the Journal screen for later memory jogging. This is an especially useful feature for gamers, like me, who breeze though in-game conversations confident in my own ability to comprehend any situation only to find myself later in the game totally baffled. With this nifty recording feature, I can still waltz through the game and refresh my swiss-cheesed memory as needed.

The economics of Geneforge, and more specifically Sucia Island, are rather unique. I confess to having played entirely too much Baldur’s Gate, but in that game, you could sell any item a shopkeeper was interested in buying for any amount of coin. Even the shopkeeper in Nashkel who constantly complained about how poor business was always had enough coin to buy whatever I was selling. In Geneforge, you can accumulate items to sell, but the shopping window will tell you how much money the store has. Even if it is an item the shop wants to buy, if there is not enough money in the kitty, the shop will not buy your item.

Geneforge is a masterful blend of resource management, leadership skills, and RPG game. It is not an endless quest to “level up,” though it incorporates that element, as well. The more experience the player gains, the stronger his skills are; thereby allowing the player to make more creations and use more powerful magic.


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