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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Grimoire - The Real Official Review

Infinitron

I post news
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Tags: Golden Era Games; Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar

Some of you were unhappy with our original review of Cleve Blakemore's Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar. You said the reviewer just didn't get it. That balance doesn't matter in a game like Grimoire. Clearly those criticisms were entirely correct! To rectify our errors, I'm happy to present the new definitive Codex review, courtesy of the esteemed Dorateen. It's full of nuggets of truth such as these:

So then, after spending a full weekend to build a party of eight created characters, the player is now ready to begin Grimoire. Upon entry onto a vibrant handcrafted 2D map presented in first-person perspective, there will be read narration written to provoke the imagination, painting the tone and atmosphere of the adventure. One of the areas where this role-playing game excels, such word imagery from descriptions to NPC dialogues exudes charm and whimsy, detailed with flourishing prose. After being treated to the game author’s inimitable style of text, the player will take a step or two and be promptly confronted by a one-eyed flower with violent intentions.

[...] I think it would be difficult to gracefully summarize the game’s backstory, and going into great detail would not do justice to the wonder of an emergent narrative. I will mention only that early on, the name of one of the chief antagonists is presented to the party like a fearful whisper and they will encounter the ripple effects of his forces and agenda throughout their adventures. It builds up with sublime pacing until at last meeting this character produces a dramatic interaction. The way events play out can vary, which is another attribute of the wild nature how Grimoire unfolds.

[...] The adventuring landscape of Grimoire is vast, and a large swath of time will be spent in the hunting of cuneiform tablets that are pieces necessary to the central quest. Often these are only found locked away in deep dungeons, and claimed by conquering some tyrannical guardian. As I looked back at the culmination of our party’s progress in the game, I realized it was not just about traveling from one dungeon to the other, but rather the fashion in which these locations are rooted in Hyperborea and attached to surrounding environments, which created a sense of separate modular adventures. Taken together, these episodes form a much broader campaign, with individual tales like streams that feed a river’s current pressing toward an unforgettable crescendo. More than any other role-playing game in a long time, Grimoire kept me in suspense all the way up to its multiple endings.

For what it’s worth, the story of the Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is a heroic romance, filled with tragedy and flawed characters as well as a realistic desire to set things right again. To return the world to what it once was. The party of characters thus answer the call to do the deed at hand, whatever the cost.

While the writing in the game is humorous and can at times be as fourth wall breaking as the Might & Magic series, nevertheless it touches upon serious subjects such as war, the nature of totalitarian state, and marketing media corruption. One of the lasting themes of the narrative is the transcendent power of music.

Computer role-playing games of this style and magnitude are not being produced in our present age. Not like Wizardry 6, not like Wizardry 7, or the classic party and turned-based dungeon crawlers of yesteryear. But the independent developer of Grimoire took it upon himself to craft such a title. For good or bad, like it or not, Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar stands as a once in a generation contribution to the hobby.​

Now to be fair, the review does also include a few careful criticisms:

On each map the player will face a variety of creatures. However, they appear usually packaged in the same configurations. For example, in the city of Waterport, among the enemies thrown at you are Highwaymen, Mutineers, Naga scavangers, and Vanguard marines. But they will always be presented in their respective groups and with little difference in numbers. If the encounter table could have mixed up these combinations, such as facing scavengers and highwaymen together, there would be more of an element of unpredictability. Even better, the game could have pulled from the wider palette of monsters available. In Castle Skulheim, among the undead, confronting wraiths that are encountered from other maps should not be out of place. Another preference in combat is to see a greater concentration of enemy forces. I recall in Wizardry 7, nuking 29 floaters or using death wish on 25 ratkin in a battle. The fights in Grimoire never approach those kinds of numbers. Then again, with the speed at which combat situations tend to be resolved, perhaps it is the reason fewer is better.

Make no mistake, the gameplay in Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is methodical and ponderous to an extent. Combat can be sped up by holding down the Enter key, but to me this ruined the enjoyment of watching a battle play out, and it might be more likely to cause the game to freeze. Rather, a brisker passing of combat feedback messages would serve well, especially after special effects, to avoid consideration to "fast forward" the turns of a cluster of six dark faeries, which takes a long time.

I don't mind automapping in general, but it is always more appreciated if tied to a cartography skill, the way it was in Crusaders of the Dark Savant. That game also featured a journey map kit the player needed to obtain to even bring up the automap. With all of Grimoire's itemization, something similar would be a nice addition. I also prefer individual character inventories instead of the pooled bar to access items, so this system definitely has room for improvement.

Accumulation of gold is never going to be an issue because the amount awarded to the party after an encounter is equivalent to one third of the experience points gained. So a battle that is worth 900 XP, will add 300 gold to the party. When you are fighting a lot, and at higher levels, this turns into a mountain of coin pretty fast. There are plenty of opportunities to spend money, including bribery, but it just seems there is never any pressure put on the party’s financial resources. Earlier I mentioned NPCs who might try to extort the characters. We could have easily managed to pay the amount demanded, but decided to beat the hell out of them as a matter of principle.

Finally, the restrictions on class changing are understandable, but more freedom in that area is something enjoyable to me. The ability to dip into one profession, and then switch back again. I wish our party's Thief could have been switched into a Ranger to pick up the lethal blow skill, but thieves are not allowed to become rangers. And some of the most elite professions must take a lot of dedication and save/reloading for those six bonus points when leveling, to have any hope of reaching the attribute threshold.
But overall, it's both a thorough introduction and a solemn elegy to the glory that is Grimoire. So hopefully Cleve will stop sending us threatening emails now.

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Grimoire - The Real Official Review
 
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hoo this gun be gud

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Invictus

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Divinity: Original Sin 2
Now this is a review goddamit!
Done by a blobber fan for blobber fans who loved games like Wizardry 7
Felipepe picked at the technical issues of the game rather than focusing on the oh so deliciously deep and fantastic systems within the game
Seeing Bards Tale 4 and the throttling it received from the more hardcore fans of the genre it makes Grimoire true oldschool approach all the more fantastic and commendable
I truly hope that V2 gives the game the recognition it truly deserves as bar none the best blobber of the last 20 years
 

ERYFKRAD

Barbarian
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Joined
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Messages
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Strap Yourselves In Serpent in the Staglands Shadorwun: Hong Kong Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag. Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Game made me feel better about myself, fixed my shortsightedness, built muscles and strengthened my jaw just by existing in my Steam library. Looking forward to playing it one day when the manual is out.
Did you make you abandon your vegan ways or is that for V2?
 

Bohr

Arcane
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
1,878
Excellent work Dorateen :salute::salute::salute:

(Where are the thread splitters when you need them, surely this is worthy of a Bumvelcrow's Digestive Tract megathread rather than a humble Grimoire review :negative:)
 

Bohr

Arcane
Joined
Nov 20, 2012
Messages
1,878
PS: spotted a typo

"Yet even these do not detract from the overarching classical agency of the game, setting the player lose in the world with little direction" - should be "loose"
 

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