Griftlands for PC is a post-apo RPG developed by Klei Entertainment – above all, the creators of the Don’t Starve series, a stealth-action game Mark of the Ninja, or a space colony simulator Oxygen Not Included. The developer is known for experimenting with different genres – this time, the studio delivered an RPG with economic elements.
The universe of Griftlands is definitely not human-friendly. Harbour settlements covered with rust, dirty factories, dusty stores or ugly taverns are the only traces of civilization, separating small communities from unfriendly wilderness filled with monsters and other filth. Additionally, the world is inhabited by various intelligent races of humanoid beings. Some of the characters one meets can resemble snails, sallow-skinned warriors with horns, or furry animals, such as cats. Two-legged robots are not mere machines, as they are also independent units with their own motivations and personalities.
This is where the player-controlled character lands – they get off the ship having nothing more than what they are wearing. From now on, they will have to make their living by fighting, trading, recruiting comrades, and travelling from one location to another in search of an abundant life. The protagonist is a skilled speaker however, and in the world of Griftlands, everything undergoes negotiations.
Griftlands for PC allows the player to choose a character and lead them through a bumpy road to success. Conversations with plenty of more and less important characters inhabiting the game world constitute one of the key elements of the experience. Speaking with a bartender at a local tavern gets the player a portion of fresh information and a bottle of a strong drink; redundant parts of equipment, as well as different findings, can be sold to a shopkeeper; one can also talk to a henchman looking for work or to a major-league employer that is willing to pay for the protagonist’s services. What underlies this part of the game, are negotiations that can influence the amount of payment or change the attitude of a teammember towards the protagonist.
Sooner or later, someone appears though, who prefers to take care of matters the hard way. The player deals with their enemies during turn-based fighting sequences featuring arcade elements, so combat is similar to the systems present in South Park: The Stick of Truth. Melee weapons, futuristic arms, and combat skills of one’s teammembers are quite diverse, so winning a fight requires good tactical thinking.
Completing assignments and defeating enemies earns the player experience points allowing them to develop the particular characters. The player can act in accordance with their moral principles, but if they decide to get extra money by conducting a robbery or doing something even “less legal”, they have to remember that law enforcers will be after them.
The player’s team often visits unfriendly areas during short expeditions – over time, journeys from one town to another become the crew’s routine. The map is viewed from an isometric perspective and it allows to travel between the key locations, such as monster dens, spots for having a rest, or settlements. When a long journey becomes tiring, one can recover and replenish supplies once they have set up camp. Sitting by a campfire in the evening creates a perfect atmosphere for deeper conversations with the companions.
Griftlands for PC offers a stylized mixture of graphical features. During the story-based conversations and cut-scenes, the game presents the cartoonish, 2D graphic style, which has become a trademark of Klei Entertainment. While travelling between locations, the action is presented from an isometric view, which allows to move freely in the game’s environment.