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Developer:
Spiderweb Software
Publisher: Spiderweb Software
Platform: PC
Release Date: 2002

by Eric Arevalo




It is true that often the best things come in small packages. Such is the case with Geneforge, a very unique RPG released from Spiderweb Software. Spiderweb Software is the same company that has given us the equally intriguing Exile series, Nethergate and Avernum. Jeff Vogel, successful shareware developer of each of these games is to be applauded for the work and commitment he has put into each of them. While Geneforge features simplistic graphics, the exciting story as well as the ability to control fascinating mutant creatures more than make up for this.


In Geneforge you play the role of an apprentice Shaper, a member of a powerful magical guild. You have the power to create life and use it to serve your every need. You were headed to one of the Shaper colonies for training. Attacked at sea, you never reach your destination. Barely clinging to life, you swim to nearby Sucia Island, a place rife with mystery and danger. Why were you attacked and what mysteries does the island conceal in its forbidden depths? Only you can find those answers.


It was fun to play on an island that gets even more interesting as you uncover clues to what happened there. The game has the familiar and exciting elements that you have come to expect from an RPG. You have quests to undertake to earn experience, mighty spells to wield and creatures to control. You can choose to play as three different characters, Shapers, Agents and Guardians. Each has their unique abilities and powers that you can use in the game. What I especially liked are the creatures that can be created and used to fight with you against your enemies. You create them by using essence, or raw material that the Shapers use to create life. You can create about 9 different mutant creatures in the game, and each of them can be enhanced to an even stronger form. You can create lizard-like Fyoras, stunning and powerful creatures known as Drayks and humanoid creatures called Battle Alphas that can deal massive damage with their fists. Your creatures also gain experience and will get stronger as they fight in battles.


Eventually you will encounter three different groups within the game that you can join. The three groups are the Awakened, the Obeyers and the Takers. Each group consists of serviles, creatures that were created by your people, the Shapers. Your people abandoned the serviles about a hundred years ago when they quickly evacuated the island. Thus the serviles have had to live alone for all these years without their guidance. Your presence on the island after many years without the Shapers will find you being hated by one group (Takers), loved by another (Obeyers) and accepted as an equal by yet another (Awakened). You can obtain quests from each of these groups in their respective villages. When you complete these quests you earn valuable experience which you can use to increase your stats in many areas, such as health, essence, spell energy and others. Quests can include clearing an area infested with monsters to finding particular individuals or items. But it is the choices that you can make in the game that make it so exciting. Choosing what group you join will determine how others react to you and you can choose to be either good or evil as you make these choices.


What you will notice about this game is how everything changes based on what you do. If you join one of the groups such as the Awakened, the merchants there will lower their prices because you believe in their cause. If you join a specific group other groups will know about it and may not treat you the same way or offer you certain quests. I am sure many of you have played RPGs where dialogue with the characters never changed when you did something important. Not so here! Jeff Vogel has taken the time to ensure that your actions mean something and that they change the world around you. Joining a specific group in the game will change the outcome of many situations and gives this game huge replayability. Other unique elements in the game are the special canisters that you will find along the way, canisters of some unknown substance that will upgrade your magical abilities or allow you to create new creatures. Little do you know that these canisters are changing you in ways you can only begin to imagine as you venture forth to discover their true purpose on the island.


Geneforge will interest anyone who desires an enjoyable RPG experience. It may not have certain elements that you have come to expect from higher priced RPGs but it still manages to deliver in the important areas. Jeff Vogel and his company Spiderweb Software have put all their effort into what truly matters in any game, the story and the gameplay. The story does an admirable job in melding a very exciting fantasy adventure with a science fiction twist. The world that has been created is very unique and you will enjoy how much detail has been put into it. For example, there are certain puzzles that require you to figure out how to proceed through an area that has mines that explode when you get near them. Even more fascinating is that these mines as well as other things you will find and use in the game are made out of living materials. This all adds to the sci-fi charm that graces the entire game.


I enjoyed the way the story was presented to you as you went into important areas. I also liked the way the game makes you feel, that of being on an island with so many mysteries for you to unravel, especially uncovering the mystery of the Geneforge. There are also the special creatures that you can create that are so much fun to use against your enemies. Letís not forgot how the game changes based on your actions and what group you decide to join. If you are still undecided about this game there is a demo available at the official website that includes 17 of the games 77 areas. Geneforge is definitely worth the $25 and if you decide to order it, you will be sent a code that can easily unlock the full game for you to continue playing right away. I look forward to Geneforge 2 which is currently in production and should be available in the next few months. If you give it a chance Geneforge will impress you with all it can do!


Pros:

  • Engaging and well-constructed story with exciting plot twists
  • Creating many unique and fun mutant creatures
  • Dialogue and situations change based upon the player's actions
  • A huge and detailed world with interesting quests and puzzles
  • You can join one of three different groups which can lead to different endings
  • The Sci-fi theme adds to the overall charm of the game
  • Huge replayability
  • Great value for the price


Cons:

  • Simplistic graphics
  • Not enough sound effects


Final Grade: 92%

Just RPG Recommended Game!


Official Geneforge Website

Geneforge 2 Interview


System Requirements:

  • PC Running Windows 95 or later
  • DirectX 3 or later
  • 30 MB free RAM
  • 25 MB hard drive space
  • 800x600 screen resolution with 16 bit color



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