Saturday, 27 June 2009


I have been horribly, horribly addicted to the Geneforge series by Spiderweb Software.  Horribly.  I've been pretty much playing them non-stop.  The only break I really took was when I went to MetroCon the other weekend (which I'll eventually get around to posting about).  

Spiderweb Software is an independent game company that pretty much consists of a single programmer.  Most of Spiderweb's games feature elaborate storyline with minimal graphics.

Anyways, there's nothing phenomenal about Geneforge, but for some reason I can't stop playing the games.  I'm on the 4th game of the series now.  There's only five games, so I dunno what I'll do when I finish the fifth.  Its an isometric turn based RPG.  The gameplay isn't what makes the game really.  Its the story and the paths you can take.

In most of the games your character is a Shaper, which in the Geneforge world is pretty much a wizard.  Shapers come in three flavors: Guardian, Agent and Shaper.  Guardian is the melee class, Agent is I guess the Stealth/Magic-based class, and Shaper is the Summoner/Wizard class.  Each class can summon creatures to help them in battle.  

In the world of Geneforge, Shapers are the law.  Shapers are respected as well as feared.  Shapers can create lifeforms and easily snuff them out as well.  Shapers commonly create Servile as basically slaves.  They are made intelligent enough to do work on their own, but dumb enough to follow orders without question.  Other creations, such as Drayks are so powerful and intelligent that Shapers decreed the creation of Drayks banned.  

In the first Geneforge, you are a Shaper novice, sent off to an island to finish your training, but your ship (which is actually a living creature) is attacked, forcing you to abandon it and swim for the nearest shore:  Sucia Island.  Sucia Island is a barred island, with the penalty of death for all trespassers.  As you travel the island you unravel the story of why the island was barred.  You also find that the Shapers planned to return to the island.  The Serviles still remain on the island, and have formed tribes (which was thought impossible by the Shapers).  The three tribes are the Obeyers, who remain loyal to the Shapers, the Takers, fanatical Serviles who wish to destroy Shapers, and the Awaken, Serviles who believe Shapers and Serviles can live together as equals.  You can ally yourself with any of the three sects, or none at all.  There is a fourth force at work on the island as well.  The Sholai, a race of people from beyond the ocean.  A rebel Sholai discovers the secret of why the island was barred, the Geneforge.  Depending on your choices you can help the rebel Sholai, or destroy the Geneforge.

The series is mostly rinse and repeat with variations.  Each game reveals more information about the Shapers, and the Geneforge itself.  In Geneforge 4 you begin as an anti-Shaper rebel and use a Geneforge to gain your powers.  You can also play as a Servile, which I thought was kind of interesting (even though I didn't choose to play as it).

You can have up to five creations in the games, although I typically just stuck to one or two.  Each creation has its strengths and weaknesses.  Summoning creatures costs a base amount of Essence.  When creating a monster, you can modify its stats, which increases the amount of Essence required for it.  Essence can only be given back if the creature dies.  You gain Essence by leveling up, and you gain even more by increasing you INT.  

There are many stats in the game you can increase with levels.  So many that its hard to decide what to do with.  Along with the standard Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence, and Endurance, there are different schools of Magic and Shaping, multitude of different combat specialties, as well as skills used for thievery and deception.  You only get five skill points per level, so you have to decide wisely, as each skill costs a different amount of skill points to level up.

While the game is not for everyone, especially those all for graphics, the series' story is where the game really shines.  I can't recommend this for everyone, but if you like classic-style old-school games, this is something you may want to look into.

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