Old and new meet with mixed results
Legends of Grimrock is stokes the fires of nostalgia for a long-lost niche genre. When the game starts up, straight away you can tell that many of the main design decisions are elements of Might & Magic, Dungeon Master and Wizardry. These games are obviously the main inspiration for the game. There are two PDF files included with the game: a lengthy lore laden manual of the variety no one has made in many a year and Grimrock-themed graph paper with which hardcore players can map out the dungeon by hand.
The storyline to Legend of Grimrock is pretty basic. Four prisoners are thrown into Mount Grimrock for crimes that are unknown. Once in the dungeon the four are absolved of their crimes and to live free again must find an exit to Grimrock. Almost Human Productions’ indie studio gives flash backs to old d20 based roleplaying games. This Adventure/RPG is packed with all types of dungeon crawling goodness. There are plenty of monsters to combat between the puzzles, random encounters and hidden passages that are seeded throughout the levels of Grimrock.
Your party consists of four characters that you’re allowed to customize at the beginning of the game. Just like the characters are thrown right into Grimrock, you’re thrown right into the game. You are thrown right into the game, however if you press ‘escape on the first level you can get access to a small set of notes to teach you the basics. This is a game for the hardcore gamers. Some notes are situated on the walls throughout the levels, but with the smallest amount of wording to make you think. On level 1 you fight enemies with your fists looking for armour and weapons and eventually your wizards first spell book. Whenever you find new equipment you have to throw away the old stuff. There is no reason to hold onto loot when you’re fighting for your life.
The graphics in the Legend of Grimrock are fantastic for an indie game. The combat, environment, and menus are all professional looking and flow well. Of course, you’re in the same dungeon for the whole game, so the environment doesn’t change much and much of the art is reused. The game plays like a classic PC RPG, but the sleek 3D makes it stand out as a new title. Each monster moves and attacks in a unique and smooth way. The graphics and sound aren’t flashy, but they do a good job of sucking the player into the Grimrock world.
The Legend of Grimrock uses unique controls that take some getting used to. Players use their mouse for just about everything but movement. However, in combat it’s vital for players to not just move around but also change the characters formation while attacking and inputting spells. Multitasking numerous actions and with four characters at once gets confusing in the heat of battle. However, once you get a hang of it the combat is interesting and unlike any other game I’ve played. It takes strategy and timing, not just button mashing. Almost Human Studios did a good job of making combat unique and challenging.
Usually, this type of dungeon crawling games lacks a good story. The producers could have left us with “Four prisoners were thrown into a dungeon,” but surprisingly the story has depth. Even though there has to be a lack of friendly NPCs in order to keep to the story, the game finds ways to interact with the player. You find notes and clues that you have to piece together. Every once in a while you’ll find the skeleton of an adventurer of Grimrock that came before you. And I won’t spoil it, but it seems like someone’s watching your every move. By making you piece together information for the story you get sucked into the game even more. The only problem I found is that even though the games storyline and puzzles are excellent I doubt I could go through it again as it is quite a linear experience in most areas.
The main problem with the Legend of Grimrock is its lack of customization. You get the option of customizing your four man party, but there are only three classes which is a bit lacking for a fantasy styled game. You get to choose from four races, each with pictures to show what class they may be. It really adds no background character to your story, which for this day and age is a bit poor.aswell you have to from four attributes that all characters share. But for this kind of adventure game I’d like to have more choices between what my party is made up of. At least make it so each character in your party can fulfill a different role or maybe even interact with eachother. This hurts the gameplay and the replay ability.
All in all it was a fun game and there was many aspects which I enjoyed very much. I got lost fighting through level after level of their well-designed dungeon. Currently the Legend of Grimrock is just the one dungeon, however Almost Human Productions has stated that they are looking to create additional dungeons and maybe even make a player dungeon builder. The game is aiming towards the older generation of gamers that may remember the likes of Dungeon Master, but if you have some patience and enjoy a well crafted dungeon crawler then this is the game for you! The game is worth checking out and is now available on Steam or directly from their website!
Recreate the first-person dungeon crawl experience that ruled the early days of western PC RPGs with the benefit of modern technology.
A lot of art is re-used, as you’d expect from a four-person team, but the use of light and shadow to create a grim dungeon environment is excellent and wellcrafted
Straining your ears for the sounds of monsters creeping around is a great tension-booster.
Going for an old-school mouse-driven vibe is commendable, but I could have done with a lot more keyboard shortcuts. At least there’s an automap.
A strong stomach for tedium is necessary to make it through combat, but the clever brain-twisting puzzles make up for much of that.
Low for the moment until new dungeons arise!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.