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Legend of Grimrock Review Round-Up

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Legend of Grimrock Review Round-Up

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 5 April 2012, 14:49:56

Tags: Almost Human Games; Legend of Grimrock

Now that the review embargo has been been lifted, the reviews have started to pour in for Legend of Grimrock. Let's see what they have to say about the game.

"It's bloody brilliant," says RockPaperShotgun:

Part of the DM feel is movement, restricted to 90 degree turns, and advancing one tile at a time. If you’ve gone back to replay any Dungeon Master-inspired game of the late 80s/early 90s, you’ll likely have noticed how peculiar this can feel when in first-person, leaping a square at a time. But rather impressively, Grimrock manages to give this a pleasing, smooth feel, without compromising on it at all. The beautifully-lit 3D chambers can be traversed reasonably quickly, with repeated taps, gliding pleasingly. Clearly the engine could offer completely free movement without a problem, but that would rather defeat the point. Monsters are restricted to the same, although as with DM move in real-time – there’s nothing turn-based here. Which means combat is a frantic combination of trying to back away down corridors, stumbling to click on the correct runes to launch your next spell, firing off an arrow, while you’re waiting for the cooldown on a figher’s giant axe to be over. And then realising you’ve backed yourself into a dead end, and panicked, throwing your inventory at the enemy while waiting for an attack to become ready.

For the most part, enemies don’t respawn (for the most part), so if you’ve cleared an area it’s often safe. That’s important. You’ll want saferooms to dump heavy items, and most of all, to sleep in. [...] Each floor of the in-mountain dungeons is packed with puzzles, and often really tough ones. Some are necessary for progress, others reveal bonuses and secrets, and it’s mostly pretty hard to tell which is which until you find a new flight of stairs. Although the rule tends to be, the very toughest puzzles will be for extras, and can generally be walked past. But you shouldn’t, because that’s silly. You want cool goodies, right? Then solve!​

4.5/5, says Gamespy, calling Grimrock "A Thinking Man's RPG":

Grimrock is fun. It's frustrating. And more so than many RPGs today, it's atmospheric. You can almost feel the dungeon's weight pressing on you, as if the darkness that cloaks the corridors laying just outside the range of your torch is tangible, as you explore its halls. It develops tension well, as you hear monsters slithering in corners unseen, the telltale click of pressure plates, and the whoosh of a fireball after you deftly sidestep it. Its got pit traps. Teleports. Spinner squares. A rune-based magic system. And monsters that leave edible chunks on the floor when ya kill 'em.

[...] The best aspect of Grimrock is its puzzles, which have been largely abandoned by RPG developers in this age of Internet hints and walkthroughs. Some of the puzzles are easy, and others rely on the "institutional knowledge" of playing this sort of RPG in the past (like using combinations of pressure plates and teleports to open doors). A portion of the more challenging puzzles become easier thanks to hints left on scrolls around the dungeon; some are easy to find, though you won't earn a few of them without figuring out a puzzle or two . Others are true mind-benders (I never figured out how to open the gates into one lightning-spouting room deeper in the dungeon, and I finished the game without exploring this part of the level). One puzzle is unlike anything I'd experienced in this sort of RPG before -- I don't want to spoil it, but it does involve the demon heads you see periodically. And yes, sometimes you have to dive into a pit to figure out a puzzle, so don't hesitate to do so when other solutions don't work (and sometimes, these have valuable treasure.​

Hooked Games has been, well, hooked. Just how hooked? 8.4/10 hooked:

Legend of Grimrock starts off a little ponderously, almost unwelcoming. Whereas its inspiration Eye of the Beholder treated the player to colourful red walls upon entering, Grimrock’s look more realistic and, as a result, a bit dull. The bestiary is a little less varied too and initially at least, there seems to be a lot less to do. In some ways, it is a reflection of the smaller scale of Legend of Grimrock; It simply is a lot smaller than the Eye of the Beholder games and a bit less ambitious too.

Yet, as you descend into the mountain’s inner depths, the game picks up speed and has a few surprises up its sleeve. By level 4, the game had revealed itself as a great action puzzler requiring mouse skills and wits in equal measure. By level 6 I had experienced sessions of bewilderment, panic, amusement, elation, frustration and more. That told me that despite its size and despite (or perhaps because of) its old-school mechanics, Legend of Grimrock has teeth, has smarts and provides a role-playing experience that should never have been forgotten in the first place.​

Finally, Game Informer has been... not quite hooked (7.25/10):

The combat design, which most closely resembles the later Might & Magic games where actions happen in real time on the main screen rather than cutting to a separate combat mode, is less successful. Battles are tense and interesting in the first few levels of the dungeon, but by the midgame run-of-the-mill monsters can tear through the most defensively specialized and equipped fighter in seconds. Survival from that point on becomes a matter of learning how best to kite monsters around pillars and otherwise abuse their AI scripts, which is neither heroic nor particularly interesting.

Running back to the infrequent restoration crystals is an unfortunate necessity in the common events of character deaths or difficult-to-cure status conditions. There is no penalty for doing so, other than the inherent tedium and a tiny amount of food consumption, and a strong disincentive to burn rare consumables on field-applicable remedies. The level filled with slimes that disease your characters constantly (blocking critical health regeneration) and very few reagents for brewing antidote potions would never make it into a modern game, and it isn’t even the worst offender here.

Legend of Grimrock resonates with powerful nostalgic vibes for gamers of my generation, and I don’t regret my time with it one bit. Its lazy monster design encourages the worst kind of tedious, mechanically abusive player behavior, though, which is a grave offense in the world of party-based RPGs. I love it for respecting my brain as a puzzle-solver even as I rage at its failure to recreate the kind of tactical combat that made me fall in love with PC RPGs in the first place.​

Legend of Grimrock comes out on April 11, and you can preorder it on the game's official website.

There are 19 comments on Legend of Grimrock Review Round-Up

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