User reviews: Very Positive (114 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

AUTUMN SALE! Offer ends December 2

Buy Spiderweb Software Complete Pack

Includes 12 items: Avadon 2: The Corruption, Avadon: The Black Fortress, 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

AUTUMN SALE! Offer ends December 2


Recommended By Curators

"With Geneforge, Jeff Vogel created a refreshingly original sci-fi-meets-fantasy setting with complex moral dilemmas and plenty of role-playing choices."
Read the full review here.

About This Game


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Helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
50.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 31
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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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
26.7 hrs on record
Posted: November 18
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.

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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 10
Aged like fine wine
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0 of 1 people (0%) found this review helpful
9.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 2
Great Game, Nuff Said.
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24.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 4
The demo of this and the rest of the series alone made up a majority of my childhood as it throws you into the game cutting off the rest of the world after you've poured a dozen hours or so into it. The story is long and interesting and it's a wonder to see how far south things end up in this series. If your a fan of turn based combat (be it you like to bust heads, throw magic or create massive hulking beasts of fire breathing Velociraptors to do your dirty work) This is the game for you. throw a large expansive world, game altering choices and the option to simply destroy everything and leave the island in flames and you've got the perfect game to sink your time into, just keep the Steam App or another computer screen open as this game doesn't have an overlay.
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41.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 17
This game was shareware title for Mac computers in 2001. In other words: It's old. It really shows that

Graphics are primitive. Sound quality is atrocius. Interface leaves lot to to be desired. Combat is rather simple and performance is rather choppy, especially on Win7.

But...everything I just wrote doesn't really count if you're die hard RPG fan as I do.

I'm having so much fun with this title like with none other RPG title l played lately.
What really shines here is that it has intriguing story and you can really "role play" your character around it.
Very good writing makes up for it's low quality making the game world very lively and immersive.
So few games now focus around such basic concepts that it really stands out.

This game deserves to be played.

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36.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 22
I loved these games years ago when I played the first three. The only thing I would add to other reviews is that the $22 price shows up on every search result for Geneforge separately, and my love is not $110 strong. I came to add the set of games to my wishlist, but realized the pack of 5 was $22. Certainly worth it, but not everyone might come as far as I. Y'all should find a way to split the collection to reflect individual prices that can be collected together.
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49.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 23
This game does not have any flashy eye candy but it has a well developed story with an interesting take on magic and few technical bugs.

I had a lot of fun with this. The turn based combat was a nice change of pace for me and took me back to the good old days of gaming.

There is no voice acting so you have to read the dialog. (Shocking, I know.) There is no need to monitor your FPS. This game will be gentle with your graphics card. (and sound card).
If these things bother you then this isn't your game.
If you like a well thought out story with more than one path to the end game, give this a try.

A fun game from a great little game company.
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49.1 hrs on record
Posted: November 23
Geneforge from Spiderweb Software is a old school indie RPG Game. It is dated, sure, but it still has a lot of charm.

The first part of the game introduces the player into the world of Geneforge, the Island Sucia was abandoned 200 years ago and you are stranded on the Island. You have to make a choice which of three selectable classes you will take, later in the game you'll also be member of one of the factions (sects) each with benefits and codex.

The selection you make during the game will change the outcome of the game, and this long before the genre of visual novels was envisioned. The area of this game isn't exceptionaly large but it has good stories to tell, and a lot of hard obstacles to overcome. The difficulty of the game can at times be misleading, but that isn't a drawback, it is in fact a virtue of the game.

The game is not a high end graphical game which might come to some as a bad thing, but graphics often don't play such a great role in RPG games, at least not in the elder games. Of course the game still had potential to be even better than what was achieved, but you can play this game and still have a lot of fun, or get utterly frustrated by a random encounter with too many foes that were too strong for you and your creations.

I can recomend this game based alone on the RPG virtues of the time when it was created.
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19 of 19 people (100%) found this review helpful
70.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 6
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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7 of 7 people (100%) found this review helpful
41.4 hrs on record
Posted: July 23
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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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 12
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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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
16.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 18
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. :)

Edit: Typo
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
33.7 hrs on record
Posted: August 30
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.

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.


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.

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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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
59.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 27
A fantastic innovative fantasy RPG full of immersive dialog and characters, beautiful model design and a very interesting concept behind the plot. You start off small, weak and poor but grow throughout your journey into a untoppable being with great power. The fate of Sucia island rests in your hands, utilizing friends and enemies to make your final escape from it. Multiple ending dialog resulting from decisions made during your whole journey gives much to play for.

All-round I rate this game 9/10
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14 of 26 people (54%) found this review helpful
15.6 hrs on record
Posted: June 28
I played for 15 minutes, looking around and picking up items, before I got in my first fight. I hit a cow with a fireball and it killed me in one hit. 10/10
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
31.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 26
This tiny game packs a huge punch. For only 10 MB, you get a story and gameplay experience the likes of which is rarely (if ever) found nowadays. While the graphics are fairly ancient, even for when this game was released, the writing's combination of dark humor, fascinating worldbuilding, and complex choices makes this first installment likely the best. Use stealth and diplomacy or might and magic to explore Sucia Island, and possibly unlock the secrets of why this place was abandoned- or even exploit them to give yourself godlike powers.

There are many ways to win, and many many more ways to lose, but your objective is simple: Escape. Everything else is just icing on the genetically engineered cake.
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1 of 1 people (100%) found this review helpful
24.4 hrs on record
Posted: September 16
For me, Geneforge is one of the series that represents a hybrid of old school and new for RPG, a transition that came around at a time when developers not only relied on certain conventions (such as the heavy use of textual description in games) but embraced these over the flash and thunder of visual & audio spectacle that would inevitably supplant them in mainstream gaming. This review is for Geneforge 1 through 5, the complete series.

Mr. Jeff Vogel and his Spiderweb Software are involved not just in the Geneforge IP but also the Avernum series which is enjoyable. Geneforge was developed in five installments from 2001 to 2008. Graphics were never a priority with this IP, and in my opinion like most games developed by this company, its greatest strength is story.

Some things that must be talked about when discussing Geneforge:
  • Heavy use of text
  • Merciless combat & careful character progression
  • No hand holding or linearity in a huge world
Understand that these games feel old by any standard. People who didn't grow up playing MUDs or other types of games in high school will likely be frustrated by the high amount of text here: it's how you get the dialogue, interact with people and objects, and absorb specific information about every new area you come across in addition to most of the situations that dynamically arise in the game world. The pace of the game is necessarily slowed down by this feature and many players either don't have the patience or simply aren't inclined to sit through so much content when presented in this format. Yeah, you have to stop and read. I urge you to take that time and effort, since the reading provides great detail and insight into the lore, characters and story --not to mention you'll be completely lost on what to do next if you skip through it!

Combat can be very fun and is especially rewarding after you've repeated an encounter that initially punished you but discovered a viable path to victory. "Shaping," the act of creating life via magic, is the central theme of Geneforge and translates into an "essence" mechanic, a second mana pool the player character spends to summon a host of little minions (or a handful of stronger ones, or a single powerful one; it varies based on the demands of each encounter). There are a few types of shaping that each come with their own creations (magical, melee, ranged, control, etcetera). Even on the casual difficulty you need to be smart about how you invest skill points upon leveling up. Support skills like Leadership and Mechanics are great; they can supposedly be used to beat the game without a combat-viable character. Melee and ranged specializations are available too, of course, if you aren't into the magic system. I found the most success with a bit of everything, emphasizing survivability + stats over armor in my gear choices. Be prepared for some trial and error (or look up some cheats online...but really, don't do that). There are a couple of succinct and helpful guides out there, though.

The third item on that list just further drives home the importance of realizing it's a long game with lots of text. You have very little indication of where to go or what to do even when given a quest. You'll forge out into the world and earn every inch of progress with meticulous interrogation of NPCs in towns and navigation of treacherous, trap-filled monster infested wildlands in equal measure. If you skip that text, eventually you'll be having to consult a guide or just roam randomly until you get lucky. I did not explore every area, complete every quest, hunt down every rare item or talk to everyone I met. In fact, at times I followed the main questline as closely as is possible in my eagerness to see the main plot play out.

Technically the game is very simple but runs without any issue. It started as demoware on the Mac. Everything runs fine but looks extremely dated and perhaps feels clunky.

The themes dealt with in this story are ones I liked and would enjoy seeing more of in future games. I found it very pleasing that the story unfolded in episodic manner from one game to the next, especially regarding the recurring characters who I'd grown attached to. The only criticism I'd level against the story is that it is delivered almost too arbitrarily; I felt at times I would have been better served experiencing the story through my actions rather than being told what to think with a text box. Overall however, it was an excellent delivery. Of the cRPGs I've played, this series isn't my favorite but it's up there, although...

I can only recommend Geneforge to players who have considerable patience and time on their hands for the experience I've described above, and who are craving an "old school" game. It's challenging but good fun. Defeating your enemies to reach the ending and see how everything wraps up based on your choices is so rewarding.

TIP: Be thorough in exploring, talking, and reading the text for each area. It'll help in various ways, not just the extra experience points.
TIP: Guides exist online if you find yourself in an unbeatable fight or unsure of where to go next.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 1
Bad graphics.
Good story.

For adult RPG players.
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6 of 11 people (55%) found this review helpful
1.7 hrs on record
Posted: June 27
I filled my inventory with sticks and rocks.

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