Review Legend of Grimrock

first_imgThose of you who fondly remember games like Dungeon Master or Pools of Radiance should be excited about retro dungeon-crawler Legend of Grimrock as it will scratch a long-neglected itch. Depicted in the pre-launch trailer above, Legend of Grimrock was created to be an updated version of the classic genre from the late 80’s and early 90’s. It’s an effort that has hit its mark nicely without having to resort to gimmicks or unnecessary graphical accoutrements to capture the player’s attention.Having spent a few hours with the title I am totally impressed by the job Almost Human Studios did with the title. It brings me back to the hours I used to spend winding my way through various dungeons on quests for power, fortune, and fame in the various RPG titles that were out when I was a kid. I have said before that while I love games like Skyrim, the old school stuff had a quality of mystique around them where you felt more inside the game somehow. With modern RPG’s, they look pretty and have deep story lines, but everything is laid out for you, where with games like The Legend of Grimrock, a lot is left up to your imagination.The premise of the game is simple: you are in a party of four convicts that have been given a chance at freedom, if you can make it through Mount Grimrock. A winding gauntlet of enemies and puzzles, very few have have ever been dropped into the top of the mountain and found their way out at the bottom. While this storyline gives the game definition, it refreshingly doesn’t put an armlock on the whole experience.The gameplay will be very familiar to those of you who had the pleasure of spending time with Dungeon Master. The movement rather than being frenetic like in a FPS title is deliberate and slow yet smooth to not make it seem dreary. Using my Razer Nostromo, I found myself able to navigate very well since you are either moving forward, backwards or sidestepping right or left. You can also turn either direction, which again gives the feel of the old school games we played when we were kids.Your party consists of four different beings, which either you can let the game choose for you automatically or you can spend the time in the beginning to really tailor your group to your playing style. I chose to let the game choose, and ended up with a minotaur warrior, human warrior, human archer and a human mage. While you visually don’t see these characters (you have to use your imagination, which is really a good thing, trust me), the on-screen display of each members status serves as how you are actually walking through the game. Of course, I placed my “tanks” in the front with my ranged in the back which still works as well as it did back in the day.Fights and battles in the game are pretty straight forward. You simply right-click the hand slots on each party members block, and you either hit or miss. At the beginning of the game your mage will have many spells fail, but eventually you can cast some low level fire spells like the one above, burning up the giant snail. As is standard in the genre, stats and equipment help how much damage you deal out or absorb. Equipment is found laying around the different rooms of the dungeon, encouraging you to explore.One significant difference then it comes to exploration is that Grimrock gives you the ability to have an auto-map. I don’t know about you, but I rather enjoyed breaking out the graph-paper and making maps with a pencil and a ruler. The good news is that the game developers seem to understand this since they give an option to be able to turn the feature off.Resource management plays a large role in Grimrock as you have to keep your team supplied with food, and actually command them to eat. This is a nice touch because this mechanic was a large part of classic crawlers in the past. It doesn’t become obnoxious as you play, and gives you reason to fight the baddies that are floating around. Of course, fighting gives you experience points which help to level your party up and there are few surprises in this that keep things interesting.The part of the experience that really stands is the amount of challenging puzzles you have to tackle to move forward in Grimrock. Relying on both spatial and mental obstacles, the game presents challenges that force you to stop your modern meta-game thinking in favor of putting yourself in the environment. When I use real world thinking to get around a problem in a game, I feel cheapened in some way. But put me so deep into the game that I can almost hear the dripping water and monsters shouting in the distance, and I am yours forever.The Legend of Grimrock retails right now at $11.99 during the pre-order phase. If you wait to purchase through Steam, it will be $14.99 but, either way, it’s worth every penny. Even when you finish the game, the replay value is high as you can mix up the party and difficulty, and I can see many players doing that since the game is so enjoyable. If you must have new content, the game promises DLC packs as well as community-created dungeons, which should expand your experience infinitely.You can pre-order the game right now directly from the developers or GOG.com. It hits Steam on the 11th.Grimrock GraphicsGrimrock Graphicsgrimrock-2grimrock-mapLegend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_05Legend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_06Legend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_07Legend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_01Legend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_03Legend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_04legend_of_grimrock_key_art_mediumlast_img read more