|Publisher: Spiderweb Software Genre: Adventure & RPG
|Min OS X: Any Version CPU: 601 RAM: 30 MB Hard Disk: 25 MB Graphics: 800x600 @ 16-bit
GameplayGeneforge is all about allowing the player to choose his own way through Sucia Island. You can steal from the serviles inhabiting the island; you can befriend them, or attempt to slaughter them. If you mistreat the serviles, they will rise up against you and attack you when your offenses grow too great. The game is also set up, if your leadership skills are high enough, you can work to bring about an understanding among the three factions of serviles on Sucia Island. The three groups are the Takers, the Obeyers, and the Awakened. These groups all represent how these serviles view their creators – the Shapers. The fact that no Shaper has been on the island in uncounted years does not diminish the abject fear some serviles exhibit when they encounter you. All the serviles will fear you, to some degree, even though they do not know that you know next to nothing about the Shaper’s secrets.
There are three character types in Geneforge. Shapers are noted for their powerful magical skills in creating creatures to serve them. Because of this, they are physically weaker than the other characters and will need to rely heavily on their creations to make it though the dangers of Sucia Island. The second category of character is the Guardian. Guardians are, as you might expect, the class that protects the Shapers. They are physically more powerful, but their skills in magic and creation are weaker. Guardians can create creatures to aid them in battle, but the cost is higher for them. The third class is the Agent. Agents are the law-enforcement arm of the Shapers. Agents have both strong weapon and magic skills, but they are not very strong at creation.
The main screen of Geneforge is fairly communicative, if a little busy. It has an automap that displays the areas you have already explored. The terrain map shows you what your character can see. There is a listing of your character and all created beings, as well. Your inventory is right next to a diagram of your character. This is especially helpful for when you find items for your character to wear. For instance, if you find armor or a shield or weapons and pick them up, they show up in your inventory right there on the screen. There are no other screens to go to that take your eyes away from the action unfolding before you. To equip your character with those items, simply drag them to the character in the appropriate spot and let them go. Voila! Your character is now equipped with that item. I highly recommend learning the keyboard shortcuts. For example, pressing the “F” key after battle ends combat mode.
GraphicsGeneforge is not Unreal Tournament. Neither is it Baldur’s Gate. What Geneforge is, is a engrossing storyline and a deep, complex system of skills and resource management that happens to have a colorful, graphical representation of those elements. All that to say, Geneforge’s characters and objects are not detailed, rich graphics. They are fairly bland. The terrain map is a 3/4 view of the visible area, but none of the elements have any depth to them. Most of the objects on the island bear a generic appearance. Rocks and trees are the same throughout the environment. Just about all the buildings and homes look the same.
This however is not the point of Geneforge.
Geneforge is still a Classic application. It will run in Classic mode under OS X. I played the game in both environments and found performance to be slightly better when booted in OS 9. In a couple instances, I did not allow Geneforge to switch the resolution and was presented with a bright white background around the game screen (full screen mode), which turned to black as I moved the mouse over the white areas. I recommend allowing Geneforge to switch your screen’s resolution.
ConclusionIf you are after lush graphics, immersive 3D environments and rich sound Geneforge will not live up to your expectations. However, if you are interested in playing a game with a strong storyline and a unique take on magic, Geneforge will definitely impress you. Geneforge has some distinctive characteristics, not the least of which is that the player has the option to join with or destroy the “boss” at the end of the game. Each decision you make along the way, helps pave the way toward the end of the game. You can befriend or alienate the groups of serviles on Sucia Island. Most RPG games develop the story around the main player-character and require the player to hack and slash their way through the game. This feature alone adds significantly to the replayability of Geneforge.
Additionally, Spiderweb Software wanted you to be able to go through the game and avoid violence to a large degree, if that is your pleasure. Many RPG characters would rather think their way through a fantasy world rather than muscle their way through. Now you folks know who you are, and the sooner you recognize you are a minority the better off you will be. Of course, if a little violence would give me the skills to create Liv Tyler, then I am all for it.
Geneforge is a lot like some of the original dungeon crawling games in its graphics and interface, but that is where the similarities end. Geneforge is all about how you, the player, want to progress through Spiderweb’s created world. Spiderweb Software told me that Geneforge sales are exceeding their expectations. After spending a little while with the title, I can see why. If you are ready for an intellectual plot and a game that requires just as much, if not more brains than muscle, you should download Geneforge and register it just as soon as you finish this review.
Pros: Engaging story
Novel use of magic
Cons: I was unable to create Liv Tyler as a servile
Graphics do not draw the player into the game
Combat and skills systems can be confusing in their complexity