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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Legend of Grimrock II

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Almost Human Games; Legend of Grimrock 2

It would be fair to say that, at the time of its release back in 2012, the success of the original Legend of Grimrock took not just any one of us, but everyone by surprise. A first person tile-based dungeon crawler in the vein of Dungeon Master? An RPG without BioWare-like epic plot or any NPCs to speak of, taking place in a single underground dungeon? What is this, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of Mad Overlord (which, as a prominent RPG designer told us, wouldn't even be considered an RPG if it was made today)? And still, it proved to be a smashing success. Surprisingly, yet deservedly so. Yes, it was streamlined compared to Dungeon Master. No - I might add - it did not have the same sense of danger or the same feel of a living, breathing dungeon that Chaos Strikes Back had. In any case, though, it was a good dungeon crawler.

However, when your first title is so successful, how do you go about making the sequel? Playing it safe, or expanding upon it? Thankfully, Almost Human went for the latter - while also acknowleding the limitations that are pretty much necessary to make a focused game. No NPCs or branching dialogue, just non-linear exploration. No C&C, just exploring the varied world not limited to a single dungeon anymore.

In this review, esteemed community member Decado elaborates on that, and introduces LoG II in general to those of you who, for whatever reason, haven't played it yet. Here's just one good excerpt:

Almost Human have turned up the level of environmental interactivity, and it really shows in both the puzzles and the exploration. You can now equip a shovel and dig for buried treasure, and the different terrain heights make for some great moments, such as an Indiana Jones-esque leap into the abyss that ends with a sturdy magical bridge under your feet. Secret areas can be found by resting in certain spots, and gold keys and treasure await the intrepid canal diver. All of these mechanics work in harmony to not only spice up the normal game world travel, but the puzzles as well.

I have to point out: there were one or two puzzles that, in retrospect, seem particularly unfair. A hard puzzle is one thing, but a hard puzzle with no clues -- or worse, no indication that you're in a puzzle at all -- can be infuriating. And more than once I ran into game-stopping puzzles, e.g. things you had to figure out to proceed, as opposed to figuring them out for a hidden item or some nice loot. These weren't absurdly difficult for me personally, but they would probably be showstoppers for some other people. Finally, sometimes the visuals themselves could make a puzzle difficult. It is hard to know that you should throw a rock onto yonder pressure plate if you can't see the goddamn thing. And I don't know about you, but I don't have a bunch of free rocks to be throwing around. Rocks don't grow on trees, for chrissake.

The only other big hiccup in the game is the navigation. LoGII is a pretty big world, and even the improved minimap cannot fix the lack of narrative direction. You eventually figure out you're supposed to be collecting these floating crystals, and you get pushed towards a foreboding castle that somehow requires all of these things to enter, but that's it. Some scattered, smart-assed notes from a hooded jerk-off are all you really get by way of instructions. Now, I don't want my hand to be held the whole way through, and I suspect most people playing this game don't want that either. But the lack of a journal or some kind of overarching story besides "You're stuck on this island!" presents a big hole in the presentation, especially because LoGII is such a huge game. In the first game, you were limited to a certain number of squares per dungeon, and you always knew you were heading down so, getting lost was virtually impossible. The second game, with its huge outdoor maps and multiple connection points between areas, requires a more robust framework. I like wandering around, but I don't like wandering around because I don't know what the hell else to do. [...]

When you put it all together, you get a hell of game. Challenging combat, an interesting skills mechanic, great visuals, terrific music, intelligent level design, and an overall feel for developing a living, breathing, dangerous world, puts Legend of Grimrock II quite high on my list of favorite RPGs. I will have to play it a few more times to be sure where I rank it, but it is probably in my top five of the last 15 years. Which means I will have to move Dragon Age II off of my list.​

Read the full review: RPG Codex Review: Legend of Grimrock II
 

Jack Dandy

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Such a great game. The inclusion of a non-linear structure to the game was exactly what I wanted to see.

I'm still playing through it!
 

vealck

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Really nice graphics and atmosphere, majority of the puzzles make sense. While I'm not fan of real-time combat, it's improved over GR1, and it didn't bother me much.
For those who wonder how much actual gameplay you get: one playthrough at normal difficulty took me 47hrs. Loved almost every minute of it.
Worth every penny.
 

Blaine

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The only downside to this game in my view is the inordinately large number of mediocre or outright bad race/class/skill combinations (I'm not talking about choosing stuff willy-nilly, either) and the handful of inordinately powerful combinations. For example, Evasion is marginal at best and its related skills and gear can easily be ignored in favor of something else; guns are a bit crap; and magic synergies can fuck you up when you realize you've missed out on some powerful combinations.

I think a lot of people will play for 4-5 hours, have second thoughts about their character creation choices, do some reading online, and restart with better characters. Certainly, more than a few Codexers did, and I was no exception.
 

Rpguy

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I think a lot of people will play for 4-5 hours, have second thoughts about their character creation choices, do some reading online, and restart with better characters. Certainly, more than a few Codexers did, and I was no exception.

Guilty as well...

Indeed I found playing an alchemist as a wizard rather than having a real wizard is way better and that a minotaur barbarian is better in any fighting role than the other classes so I restarted with that.
I completed the game and must say it was a pretty awesome experience even with the need to restart. Best rpg this year imo ( but I did not play DA:I yet ) even enjoyed it more than Divinity just because it felt more challenging.
 

Blaine

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Grab the Codex by the pussy
Two minotaur barbarians up front, two alchemists in the rear, one with Fire/Air, the other with Ice/Earth, and both pumping out potion ingredients.

Game sorted. It would have benefitted greatly from a purely point-buy rather than class-based system, I think. Fortunately, the dungeoneering and exploration are the most important bits.
 

Rpguy

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Two minotaur barbarians up front, two alchemists in the rear, one with Fire/Air, the other with Ice/Earth, and both pumping out potion ingredients.

Game sorted. It would have benefitted greatly from a purely point-buy rather than class-based system, I think. Fortunately, the dungeoneering and exploration are the most important bits.

As a personal principle in group rpgs I never pick up the same class twice ( unless you have to like In KoTC ) so I went with barbarian (2handed/shield) / battlemage(strength weapon/wand) at the front + rogue(duel wield light backstabbing dex weapons) /alchemist(caster) in the back , was an awesome fun group.
 

Deuce Traveler

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When is Decado posting here so we can brofist him?
 

SirSingAlot

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the more open world and non-linear exploration is a huge pro compared to part 1.

i am not into those puzzling puzzles tbh. if i wanted to pull levers and the like all day long, i would work in a factory.
 

Decado

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Hey guys, I'm just curious -- did anything in my write-up seem off? Like, am I the only one who found firearms underpowered? I am also the only one who felt like there are only a few solvent character designs, e.g. you have to take armor if you're a frontline fighter, etc? I want to know if I suck at the game.
 
Last edited:

vealck

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Hey guys, I'm just curious -- did anything in my write-up seem off? Like, am I the only one who found firearms underpowered? I am also the only one who felt like there are only a few solvent character designs, e.g. you have to take armor if you're a frontline fighter, etc? I want to know if I suck at the game.

I think that when it comes to games like GR or GR2, it's best not to overestimate the importance of combat and character builds in general.
I mean, sure, some people enjoy finding out what works best and optimize party for highest damage output etc., but let's face it: it's not all that important in the wider context of the gameplay.
Given that we have a rather simplified character/skill system, very limited and non-randomly generated gear, and the combat relies more on proper movement than actual character's stats, a party creation serves rather secondary role. One could even say, its main function is aesthetic / adding variety / increase immersion.
2 Barbarians / 2 spellcasting alchemists party probably will be more efficient than any other combination, but hey, it's not a competitive mmo. A badly constructed party will just have to drink a few more potions and dance a little longer on the floor tiles to kill an ogre, but that's pretty much it, it won't make the game unbeatable or painful to play. I'd say that Grimrock is enjoyable because it's a nice mix of exploration, puzzle solving, nice graphics and nostalgia in terms of game mechanics. It's not a combat-focused game with unforgiving system, where character build would have to be carefully premeditated.
Still, some balance patch from the devs addressing firearms, dodge, etc. could be nice.
 

Jack Dandy

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Hey guys, I'm just curious -- did anything in my write-up seem off? Like, am I the only one who found firearms underpowered? I am also the only one who felt like there are only a few solvent character designs, e.g. you have to take armor if you're a frontline fighter, etc? I want to know if I suck at the game.
Your criticism of the new skill system is bad
It's much better than in the first game imo.

Also fuck you, I like getting lost.

But besides that, excellent review.
 

Ninjerk

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All of my blog is copy/paste, since I only write in it sporadically. Also I've gotten some pretty great hilarious comments so far.
Someone named "Negro Stomper" commented. Which one of you was it?
 

MicoSelva

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Good review, Decado. I think the game is not for me. I have a big problem playing games for the sake of just progressing further, when there is no narrative to tie things up and keep me interested. The first LoG was already pretty bad in this regard, and LoG 2 seems to suffer from an even more serious case.
Great job from Almost Human regardless, hopefully they will keep up their good work, as games like these were obviously missing from the market for way too long. :salute:
 

Darth Roxor

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Started playing this recently, now at 15/20 power gems. Haven't played Grimcock 1, but will definitely check it once I'm done with this 'cause LoG2 is ADDICTIVE AS ALL SHIT OMG

It's *that* kind of game. The one that just keeps throwing ever-increasingly annoying shit all over your face (rats, cannonrats, spiders, napalm-bombing leprechauns, flying eyeballs WTF IS THIS CASTLE DARKMOOR), but each time you get raped, you just HAVE TO reload the game and take bloody vengeance on those motherfuckers that wronged you.

Like that one moment when I leave the fucking crystal mines only to find a fuckhueg welcoming committee of skaven, a cannonrat, a leprechaun and an ogre. I wept, I raged, I grabbed my butt in gear and massacred them after many games reloaded and lots of kurwas shouted.

Decado :bro:
 

Baron Dupek

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Don't forget to check fan made dungeons. Due some tweaks they have only few kilobytes weight (nexus, workshop etc.)
 

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