Legend of Grimrock, by Almost Human, brings back a style of gameplay we haven’t seen in ages and reminds us that gameplay mechanics of old still work and can stand proud among today’s RPGs. With fond memories of Eye of the Beholder and Dungeon Master, I make sure that the family is asleep, put out the lights and begin my journey. Legend of Grimrock awaits.
Legend of Grimrock
You start the game by creating your party of four prisoners that are exiled to the dungeons beneath Grimrock mountain. The place lives up to its name: it is dark, grim and dangerous and the way out does not come easily.
You must lead your convicts through the dungeons of Grimrock and escape.
Three classes, four races and small amount of skills is all that is required to create your character. The classes you can choose from are fighter, rogue and mage and the available races are human, minotaur, lizardmen and insectoids. Some races are more suitable for a specific class and humans are good jack-of-all-trades.
Whatever you choose, the goal is simple: You must lead your convicts through the dungeons of Grimrock and escape.
Legend of Grimrock is faithful to the games of old, when it comes to the gameplay mechanics. Your party walks in square formation with front and back row. You can only move in cardinal directions and rotate to look around. While this may feel inhibiting at first, it soon begins to feel quite. And yes, this is how it was in RPG’s of the late eighties.
The combat in Legend of Grimrock may feel like it is turn-based, but everything happens fully in real-time. You attack right-clicking on the weapons on the main interface. After each attack, there is a small cooldown on the weapons before you can attack again. If you loved The Eye of The Beholder, this is where you feel home.
You can change the position of the characters on the fly or attack from the back row if you have ranged attacks available or weapons with reach such as spears. The grid-based movement is also important factor in combat, because it is easy to trap yourself to unfavorable position, especially if you’re facing multiple opponents. When fighting a single-opponent, movement can work to your benefit.
Your character and its expertise is a tool for you to survive.
In a way, combat mechanics in Legend of Grimrock won’t offer you stuff you might have seen in today’s RPG’s. No dual-wielding benefits, special moves or other fancy things. Your character and its expertise is a tool for you to survive. It is straightforward, simple and suitable for the theme.
Outside of combat, you interact with the world with the left mouse-button. You’ll be pushing buttons on the wall to open doors, pulling levers and filling your inventory with useless junk in fear of needing those items later. I run out of torches (that fade over time) few times and it felt good… as you can imagine.
Truly rewarding, frustrating puzzles
Legend of Grimrock is not an easy game and occasionally one during your gameplay, you might feel that the developers at Almost Human are sadistic. Luckily they value the experience of good puzzles. This time you have to use your brains to solve some of the tougher puzzles you face in the game. In fact, you shouldn’t even play the game if you are tired.
So if you value tough puzzles, then making your way through Grimrock’s dungeon makes the game shine. Some of those evil puzzles will mislead you, fool you, and make you scream. Almost at least, since every time I was about to rage-quit the game, I found the solution and felt like a boss. Make no mistake, you don’t have to solve every puzzle if you don’t want to. The game has puzzles and hidden sections enough to make it worthwhile for the explorers.
Oh, there is some treat for the hardcore players too. In the beginning of the game you can choose if you want to use the automap-feature or just use a piece of paper to help you finding your way out.
Besides puzzles, what I found most satisfying was the atmosphere the game offers. All the shadows, fire, flickers of movement just outside your torch’s range and moldy corridors will make you feel the dungeons as you delve deeper.
When it comes to graphics, Legend of Grimrock looks really good. The dungeons themselves and the opponents you face (pretty good selection of those too) are well crafted. It is a dungeon so there is some repetitive tiling yes, but not too much. I felt that it was the amount of detail that allowed me not to grow tired of those blocks.
Good graphics are packed up with sound effects that you hear echoing throughout the dungeons. So no music once you’re in the dungeons. The only music you’ll hear is when you are at the main menu.
While Legend of Grimrock doesn’t involve you in a deep plot, it is the details, sound-effects and RPG-elements together that will translate to well memorable experience.
Legend of Grimrock takes an extinct genre and proves that old-school games can be enjoyable even today. The game is a refreshing gust of wind among todays roleplaying games and it is fun to see games that still require lots of thinking to get through them. So put down your fellow Skyrim or Amalur and enjoy few hours with the past.
BOG’s Legend of Grimrock Score: 9.0
Why so high? Captures the feeling of the games of old, gives fantastic puzzles and great dungeon-delving atmosphere.
Why so low? Captures the feeling of the games of old, gives frustratingly evil puzzles and the gameplay mechanics might feel restricted.