Geneforge is an Indie fantasy role-playing game, the first game in the five-part Geneforge Saga. It features an enormous world, the ability to create your own army of lethal, totally obedient creatures, and a cunning enemy AI with foes who can go on patrols, stalk you, and run for help. Geneforge has a huge and open storyline.
User reviews: Very Positive (134 reviews)
Release Date: Dec 1, 2001

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Packages that include this game

Buy Geneforge Saga

Includes 5 items: Geneforge 1, Geneforge 2, Geneforge 3, Geneforge 4: Rebellion, Geneforge 5: Overthrow

Buy Spiderweb Software Complete Pack

Includes 13 items: Avadon 2: The Corruption, Avadon: The Black Fortress, Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, Avernum 4, Avernum 5, Avernum 6, Avernum: Escape From the Pit, Geneforge 1, Geneforge 2, Geneforge 3, Geneforge 4: Rebellion, Geneforge 5: Overthrow, Nethergate: Resurrection

 

Recommended By Curators

"The begin of the great Geneforge series by indie pioneer Jeff Vogel - unique Shaper setting. Which faction do you join?"

About This Game

Geneforge is an Indie fantasy role-playing game, the first game in the five-part Geneforge Saga. It features an enormous world, the ability to create your own army of lethal, totally obedient creatures, and a cunning enemy AI with foes who can go on patrols, stalk you, and run for help.

Geneforge has a huge and open storyline. You have the freedom to choose your own path and decide how the story will turn out. You can fight the evil overlord or you can join him. You can help the peasants or you can torment them. You can be the bold hero or you can just try to get away. No matter what you choose, Geneforge offers an enormous adventure with plenty of replay value.

System Requirements

    • Operating system:Windows® XP / Vista™ / Windows® 7
    • Processor:1.6 GHz CPU
    • Memory:512 MB
    • Hard disk space:300MB
    • Video: OpenGL compliant graphics card
    • Sound:Sound card
Helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
26.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 18, 2014
This is an amazing game, even for its age. I really love the story, but what was even better is the closure you receive at the end in the form of hand-drawn story panels (this particular aspect really appealed to me). There are many different endings to find, which helps increase playtime/replayability and overall, I have put more than 50 hours into this game.

If you are a fan of RPG's and you don't mind dated graphics, you should definitely give this or the later entries in the series a try.

8/10
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
80.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 21
Classic, old-school, isometric, turn-based RPG in a unique fantasy setting. Open-ended, plenty of feeling of agency - choices have consequences and rewards. Loved every bit of it. Of course I used the Geneforge, then handed everyone's carcass to them in a sizzling, melted pile. I'll be plowing through the rest of the saga post-haste, and in order. What fun we'll have regrowing ourselves into gods.

10/10 Will try to unring a bell again.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.5 hrs on record
Posted: March 19
A great classic! I really wish they'd reprogram the UI a little to support touch and different screens, but the story is interesting and the graphics work fine (despite being a little simple). This is a great game for people who like fantasy settings, monster creation, and Choose Your Own Adventure games.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
32.5 hrs on record
Posted: February 6
loved this game for years 10/10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
31.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 12
This game will tickle your fancy
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 18
This game completely surprises me. Of everything, I think I'm enjoying the story the most, and the gameplay itself only adds to the fun. It makes me feel like I'm playing an old school tabletop RPG, and the graphics are only there to provide a template for my imagination. If anything, it alleviates my guilt over not reading books as often as I play games. More like this would be greatly welcome.
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8 of 15 people (53%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
8.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 30, 2014
I wanted to like this game. I'm sure that the game had many interesting choices to make that led to different stories. I didn't mind the poor graphics one bit, and I'm normally a fan of games like Baldur's Gate.

In the end, though, I just couldn't get used to the terrible combat. It's infuriating. Make and ugprade a few meat shield creatures coupled with a few ranged ones and you're good to go. Just charge forward and hope that you don't die. And I say hope because it all really does hinge on luck. In games like X-COM, you might need to rely on a few lucky hits, but for the most part, some dumb mistake you made is responsible for your deaths. Your choices matter in games like X-COM. Too bad Geneforge isn't like that.

In Geneforge, there are a-holes that can instakill your main character everywhere. Seriously, there are areas where more than 75% of the monsters can bring your main character from 100% HP to 0% HP. Even the second hostile monster in the game, the Thahd, can one-shot your main character. All any of those instakilling a-holes have to do is attack your main character, get a decent damage value from the RNG, and land the hit to trigger the game over screen. All you can do about it is pray that their AI picks on your creations rather than your main character or get bad RNG numbers if they do attack your main character. Too bad the AI doesn't always pick on your creatures. Sometimes, they just arbitrarily walk past your meat shield and give your main character a lethal smack, and that's it. And all of that happens on normal difficulty. On harder difficulties like torment, the monsters get better hit chance and damage, which means more one-shots on your main character. That's half the combat: just hoping that some monster doesn't one-shot your main character.

If you can get over that hurdle, you'll have a good time. I personally couldn't ignore this problem though.
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74 of 77 people (96%) found this review helpful
16.0 hrs on record
Posted: February 12, 2014
Geneforge presents an original setting, masterfully blending sci-fi with fantasy. Here “Shapers” are humans able to create and shape life through magic, raise armies of creatures to work and fight for them, and even genetically alter plants to serve as tools and weapons. Everything about the world seems exotic and well-thought, and it’s very interesting to learn about its lore and workings.

The story starts with your character being washed in the shores of a mysterious island, where rogue creations run wild over abandoned Shaper ruins. As you explore the massive island in search for a way back home, you’ll find the truth behind the abandoned ruins, and will decide the fate of the various factions that inhabit it. The writing is solid, and the game asks you to make some seriously complex decisions, without any banal morality judging you. I’ll add that Geneforge is the only game I ever played where the NPCs managed to change my mind with solid arguments (instead of bribes) after I had decided on a set course of action.

Combat is turn-based with action points, and although it has some annoying limitations (like only one attack per turn), it’s solid. There are three classes to choose from, and they give you freedom to fight any way you want, being able to create hordes of weak monster to fight for you, focus on a large and powerful creatures, cast spells like firebolt and fear, or simply hack and slash your enemies. Non-combat skills like Leadership and Mechanics are also important, as they provide unique ways to avoid conflicts and solve quests. And although it may not seem obvious at first, there’s a great deal of reactivity here as well.

When this was release, back in 2001, cRPGs fans had their mouths full, being spoiled with the release of classic such as Arcanum, BG2: Throne of Bhaal, Morrowind, Wizardry 8 and Gothic. So it is understandable that Geneforge, with its unattractive graphics and puke-green UI, went by undetected by most. But it’s a damn shame, and you should fix that now.
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35 of 37 people (95%) found this review helpful
55.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 19, 2014
“… she stares up at you with awe, as if her god has stepped down to earth to face her. Maybe it has.”

Geneforge is a great turn-based role-playing game experience with a deep and meaningful story in combination with a unique take on magic. What it lacks in graphics it gains twofold in detailed descriptions of events throughout the game.

Your decisions have major impact on the game’s conclusion and gameplay is vastly different depending on which of the three classes you choose.

The almost total lack of music and no voice acting should be mentioned as the disadvantages of this classic RPG.

Fun fact: The attempt of futuristic weapons with devastating effects that simultaneously felt sensible and maintained balance were one of the most difficult gameplay issues the developers had to resolve.
--

My rating system consists of six categories in descending order of importance:

- Atmosphere
- Characters
- Details
- Tactical gameplay
- Story
- Combat & Controls

Based on the performance each category will receive one of the following grading:

- S-Rank: excellent
- A-Rank: very good
- B-Rank: solid
- C-Rank: satisfactory
- D-Rank: inferior

If the S-Rank is awarded, a quote from the game or personal comment will be added as a token of my respect (in brackets).
--

Atmosphere: A-Rank

Characters: B-Rank

Details: S-Rank

(This is the lair of a large group of battle alphas. The creatures are bred to function in groups. However, seeing how they try to live on their own is, in a bleak way, quite comical. Battle alphas were not made to live unsupervised, and it shows.)

Tactical gameplay: B-Rank

Story: S-Rank

(One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.)

Combat & Controls: B-Rank
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There are no achievements to conquer.

Achievement difficulty: none
--

Geneforge 5: Overthrow (PC) – Classic turn-based role-playing game
(Fantasy / Science Fiction) – 2009
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Geneforge 4: Rebellion (PC) – Classic turn-based role-playing game
(Fantasy / Science Fiction) – 2007
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Geneforge 3 (PC) – Classic turn-based role-playing game
(Fantasy / Science Fiction) – 2005
-
Geneforge 2 (PC) – Classic turn-based role-playing game
(Fantasy / Science Fiction) – 2003
-
Geneforge (PC) – Classic turn-based role-playing game
(Fantasy / Science Fiction) – 2002
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31 of 33 people (94%) found this review helpful
9.6 hrs on record
Posted: January 1, 2014
An amazing addition to the RPG genre it takes a turn away from party character development focusing on the world, your actions in it and the repercussions of said actions. This gem from Spiderweb allows for a multitude of choices in your actions and playstyle in and out of combat. Do you think that creatures made for the sole purpose of manual labor should stick to manual labor? Do you think that prefrabricated beings can change and evolve acquiring ideas and motivations of their own? Do you like planning out each combat turn by turn or maybe you like to fly by the seat of your pants trusting in the intelligence of your handmade monsters? All of these and many more are choices you can and will make if you choose to step into this colorful world, and I certainly hope you do. As ever the first game is the roughest but as the series continues the story and gameplay improves adding in new monsters, classes and spells which you will use alter the path of the world.

Pros
A fantastic story with moral questions relating to the inhabitants of the world as well as to yourself
A solid number of monsters to summon allowing you to customize your party for the situation at hand
(For fans of turn based) Solid turn based gameplay factoring in speed attributes and action points causing a more cautious approach to your actions


Cons*
Graphics are a bit dated which for some can be a stickler
The game's difficulty does not scale per se so if you push on too fast you will feel the pain but if you take your time you can breeze through areas unless you alter the difficulty
The Shaper/Rebel faction dynamic can be a pain at times barring you from acquiring the last rank of a spell or summon key to your personal strategy

Overall it is an extremely enjoyable series that I've spent many hours on before it came to Steam and I would suggest you pick it up if you are a fan of Turn Based RPGs in general.

*And worries for some gamers
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24 of 24 people (100%) found this review helpful
70.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 6, 2014
This is an interesting one, although not really a great one.

The world and lore it establishes are well-done and interesting. You get to encounter different sects, and you can ally yourself with them, betray them later, and then change your mind and do what they probably would have wanted if you hadn't already massacred their town. All of these actions have consequences within the world and how that world reacts to you. Those consequences follow through all the way to the ending of the game, which has a pretty impressive variety of outcomes. This is probably the strongest part of the game and what makes it worth playing through.

The growth and progression of your character is also well done. You can choose to play Geneforge as three quite different "classes". Every level up you get a set of skill points that you can apportion as you wish. The class you choose doesn't dictate what you can do, but it does make it easier/harder to level up certain skills. Skills range from physical combat, magic spells, the ability to "shape" creatures to fight for you. General skills, such as Leadership and Mechanics, are also available. Pleasantly, these are actually very useful to find non-combat methods to progress through the game.

Again all of these things are well done, and are what make the game worth playing. Where it falls apart a bit, is in the interface and to a certain degree, the combat.

Combat is turn-based, and on the surface, can be quite tactical. Timing, and awareness of the positions of both your allies and your enemies are all quite important. Particularly, when you do have allies (such as the creatures you can "shape"), you do have to take into account whether or not you or your creatures are blocking a path forward. You can use this both to your benefit and your detriment, by funneling enemies down a corridor into one of your stronger creatures.

In theory anyway.

The problem is that, at least in my experience, the game is rather easy. So, tactics more or less go out the window, when you can just click-click-click your way to victory. Positioning at that point becomes more of an annoyance, as you try to coax the pathing algorithms to make sure that you don't waste a turn because you clicked slightly to the left of something, so it paths all the way around and your turn is wasted. And it's even worse that the punishment for this is not death, but a test of your patience, more often than not.

Towards the end of the game, the challenge is upped, but by presenting annoyances, like poisoned areas that do damage to you and your creatures for just being in them. There is an optional area towards the end that serves as a pretty robust challenge, but again, the tactics aren't really that interesting at the end of it. It's more a battle of attrition that you just need to push through.

Overall, the combat side of this game seems like it would be great on paper, but it ends up being boring most of the time, and annoying some of the time. Very rarely is it actually much fun.

I should mention that the presentation of the game is quite old-school, and to top it off, there is no music aside from the title screen of the game. You just get some ambient noise in towns, and sound effects for all the actions. That's it. Honestly, some music would have made some of the more annoying slog parts of the game much more palatable. I mean, it helped a lot when I was just listening to a podcast or some music when I was doing it.

That being said, despite all the gripes, I would still totally recommend the game. Normally, I'm a gameplay over story/presentation guy, but in this case I can overlook it. What it does right, it does very well.

From what I've heard, the series just continues to build on itself as it goes on. Based on what I played, I'm very much looking forward to eventually going through the following games in the series.
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23 of 23 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
50.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 31, 2014
what to say about Geneforge? To put it simply: It's an oddly fantastic game.

Having never heard of the series, I purchased a bundle with all 5 Geneforge games. I really enjoyed my playthough of Geneforge 1, despite the difficulty and dated feel of its isometric graphics. Many of the sound effects are terrible and yet somehow memorible and enjoyable. The entire gameworld is immersive, and the creators succede at an inviting the player into a curious world unlike anything I have found elsewhere.

The turn-based combat is unique and seamless with world exploration; no cutscenes to a battlefield. You can feel free to disagree but this games combat feels a lot like what Dragon Age would have been (without the dragons) in 2001. You set your party into a formation (some strategy), you scout bad guys, you draw them into battle and then the turn-based system engages right where the characters are standing, based on the players/enemies speed as determined by stats. The balancing is steeped against the player and pots/items/spells saved my creations several times. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention? You're a Shaper, a god-like race of techno-religious beings who fashioned slaves through genetic engineering, albeit 150 years ago before much of the technology was abandoned, ship wrecked on an island populated with the decendants of those slaves. If you want to know more, or about what the Geneforge is, buy the game!

Aside from combat, content-wise it's pretty dense. I was able to get up to 50hrs in a single playthrough, although I explored just about every square inch of map and tried multiple different endings. The story is pushed by text-narration as opposed to characters rendered in 3D, animated w/ voice acting. This makes it impenetrable to many spoilt by games such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Bioshock, but nevertheless it has it all. Political intrigue, factions, tons of choices that shape the world and your standing within it, hundreds of items and creatures, and dungeon after dungeon to crawl through.

I can't speak to the whole series, although I may play them through in the future, but IMO Geneforge 1 is worth your time for anything under $3. I think I got it for a buck in the bundle and was pleasently surprised.

Ultimately, I give "Geneforge 1" 7/10, would genetically modify self again.
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20 of 23 people (87%) found this review helpful
80.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 16, 2014
This game is truly a work of art, as are all of Spiderweb Software's games. The graphics aren't very good (and don't progress very much between games) but the story is brilliant, fascinating and at times can actually have you wondering which side to choose. I would recommend this game to anybody interested in a good story with fun gameplay.
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15 of 15 people (100%) found this review helpful
49.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 21, 2014
Probably one of the best RPG's I have played in some time. It's incredibly simple in mechanics, an has the most basic of graphics. It's quite long, quite cheap, has some interesting concepts, plenty of areas to explore, creatures to discover and shape. A great isometric RPG.
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18 of 21 people (86%) found this review helpful
48.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 5, 2014
If you're the sort of steely-eyed well-endowed RPG luddite who can't get it up in the morning until he peers owlishly at a fixed isometric camera angle and parses more text than the annotated edition of Infinite Jest then will this be a treat for you.

+ Well written, challenging (sometimes too challenging), multiple endings, fascinating world and story elements.

- Chunky clunky and all round dated UI design, doesn't exactly look like Skyrim.

A niche title to be sure, but the first in a sprawling series of turn based RPG epics that appreciators of the form (i.e; me) will find much in to enjoy.
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15 of 17 people (88%) found this review helpful
47.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 7, 2013
Truly inspired storytelling. What the game lacks in audio/visual detail it more than makes up for with incredible atmosphere and dialogue. Each game in the series is 40+ hours with a ton of depth and difficult choices to make.
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12 of 12 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 18, 2014
All of Spiderweb Software's titles are low on graphics and, as the oldest title available on Steam, Geneforge 1 is no exception; however, it was never built for that. Regardless of what year you play this game, the amount of raw depth and story is outstanding. It has been ten years since I first played this game, the Geneforge series remains one of my favorite games of all time, and I can't recommend it without advising players to start at the beginning.

Although the events in this game are clearly felt in the sequel, it also has the least connection with the outside world. Leaving your discovery of who you are, who you work for, and what Sucia Island is all about up to intensive study, exploration, and imagination. It's because of that feature that this might be the best introduction to Geneforge, even though it has the most clunky interface.

I won't pretend to give an in-depth analysis of this game, I just wouldn't know where to start. If Steam was able to record how much I played this game when it first came out, it would be over 350 hours. Despite that, all I can do is recommend that you try it for yourself. If you're on the fence about whether or not you'd be interested, visit spidweb.com and download the demo. If you enjoy it, come back.
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9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
42.0 hrs on record
Posted: July 23, 2014
This entire series is amazing if you enjoy rpgs. Provides countless hours of exploring and creating characters however you want them to be. You can make a mage who harnesses the power of the geneforge and can kill everyone or the warrior that denounces his own race. It is a super fun game that is not known enough. I would recommend it to all of my friends.
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6 of 6 people (100%) found this review helpful
33.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 30, 2014
I have been playing this a lot lately. At first i thought i would hate it but as i got furthur in the game (very slowly) I started to enjoy it.

FIrst of all i have not completed it yet but i have played enough to probebly write something.

Story
If you do not like a lot of reading then you mind as well pass on the game. There is a ton of reading and the game is very heavily story based which is a good thing because so far it has been pretty well written. I won't give anything away so i can't say much just know that it is well worth reading through. Also talk to every npc that is a must. You also might want something to write down notes.

Gameplay

gees where do i start ... Well i guess the battle gameplay. It is a stradegy turn based rpg. Every turn you have a certain amout of ability ponts. moving, using items, attacking will use ability points. This makes you think a lot about your move during the combat phase which again is a good thing. As you level up you will gain point in which you can distribute to certain stats.

Eventually you will be able to summon creatures to fight by your side. But if you do not keep them happy the will turn on you and start attacking you. Which could turn a battle thats going good in to a nightmare. Which brings another level of stradegy. Also creating creatures effects your essance points base stat. So say you summon one that uses 7 essance points. Your base stat will be ... 21-7 =14 you can gain back that stat by absorbing the creature when you do not need it.

Music
There is not much music here aside from the title screen but enough form towns with the kids playing and running around to outside where there will be animal sounds. that is more then enough to be enjoyable.

score 9/10
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 12, 2014
Basically Geneforge 1 is a seemingly run-of-the-mill fantasy RPG where, admittedly, the art and music isn't even all that great. But you'll be hooked after 30 minutes of exploring Sucia Island, which has been barred from Shaper travel for two centuries. There are the typical ruins and monsters, treasures and trash you get with every game like this, but the game's storytelling will suprise you and keep you playing. Combat and map-extensiveness will keep you on your toes and provide a lengthy experience. This is a great game and I highly recommend it if you're looking for something easy to get into and fun to play.

You can see an extended review I've written here: http://chillfacedanger.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/year-of-gaming-3-geneforge-1/
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