Review: Legend of Grimrock (PC) (2012)

The Legend of Grimrock (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
The Legend of Grimrock (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)

Review of Legend of Grimrock for the PC

Introduction

I’ve only done reviews of old games in the past, particularly ones for the Amiga computer platform. Today I’m going to do something completely different and review a brand new game! The reason is that this game, Legend of Grimrock, has an old-school soul underneath its modern exterior. We’re going to tap into that soul and see what it has in store for us.

Legend of Grimrock has created a buzz in retro gaming community. People that have fond memories of ultimate classics like the infamous Dungeon Master and the tricky Eye of the Beholder got enthusiastic when they heard about this game. The reason is that it is quite similar to those old-school RPG’s and that it comes in a modern form.

A screenshot from Eye of the Beholder on the Amiga (picture taken from Classicamiga.com)
A screenshot from Eye of the Beholder on the Amiga (picture taken from Classicamiga.com)

The game has been created by Almost Human Ltd, an indie game studio based in Finland that saw the light of the in 2011. Unlike larger companies, their headquarter is at the bottom floor of an apartment building, right next to a horse stable. Excellent stuff. πŸ™‚

Can Legend of Grimrock match the gameplay and excitement of the older dungeon crawler games? Is it a fun and thrilling game to play? We’ll try to find the answers to those questions in this review.

System Requirements

According to the authors, these are the minimum system requirements:

OS: Windows XP Service Pack 3
CPU: Dual Core 2GHz Intel or 2.8GHz AMD
Memory: 2GB
Graphics: ATI Radeon X1600 or NVIDIA GeForce 7600 or better (512MB graphics memory or more. Shader Model 3.0 needs to be supported). Minimum supported resolutions 1280Γ—720 and 1024Γ—768.
DirectX: 9.0c
Disk Space: 1GB

Entering Mount Grimrock

Mount Grimrock is not a holiday destination or a place you’d like to settle. It is as the name indicates, a rather depressing and dangerous place, filled with all kinds of monsters, traps and enemies.

Grimrock Mountain (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
Grimrock Mountain (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)

A group of prisoners have been exiled to the Mount Grimrock for crimes that they may or may not have been guilty of. As shown in the introduction to the game, they are airlifted to the location in an ancient airship (it looks like a regular ship, but with a gigantic balloon on top of it – cool!) and then thrown into the darkness of the mountain. Their only hope for survival is to stick together as a team, fight off evil monsters and find a way out of the dungeon. If they can manage this, then they can reclaim their freedom.

Four Lost Souls

You are in control of four characters and you’ve got an option to use a preset combination or create them by yourself. You’ve got several different type of characters to choose from and they all have different strengths and weaknesses. My advice is to go for the ready-made combination when you first try the game, as it is well-balanced. You’ve got one character for spells, one warrior to stand in front of the group and so forth. The character creation system works well and is fairly easy to come to grips with, especially if you’ve played a similar game before.

Once your band of prisoners is assembled, you are ready to start exploring the dungeons. If you want, you can start off with a quick tutorial, so that you’ll learn how to play the game properly. You can of course skip this if you are the type that likes to jump in and learn by experience. The tutorial does not include all aspects of the game, such as casting spells for example, but I found it helpful.

Controls

The controls are quite straight forward. You can move your team around using the keyboard (WASD plus some other keys) or by using an on-screen interface with arrows. You’ll mostly use the mouse for equipping weapons, attacking monsters and for looking around after secrets, valuable objects and clues. It took me very little time to get to know the controls and that is plus.

Gameplay

Unlike modern first person perspective games, the movement is in leaps of a single tile to either North, South, East or West. This is just like in games like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder. Some might find this way of playing a bit strange, but it won’t take much time getting used to. A new feature that wasn’t included in the oldies is the option to use the mouse to look around while standing still. This is a feature that you’ll find helpful for discovering items and secrets.

The battles are in real-time and you are in control of four characters at the same time. Two of your characters will stand in front and take blows from the monsters, while the others will stand in the back. It is wise to have someone skilled at ranged combat and a mage in the back, while a fighter or two stands in front. This can of course vary from situation to situation. You can change the formation of your crew during combat, which is vital if one of them is suddenly low on health. My impression of the combat system is positive and I must say that it is almost identical (if my memories doesn’t betray me) to the one in Eye of the Beholder.

Enemy ahead! (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
Enemy ahead! (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)

You’ll not only encounter monsters in the game, but also puzzles that must be solved. This adds to the variety of the gameplay.

Since dungeons, especially those with the same kind of tiles plastered over the walls, are places that can confuse your sense of direction, the authors have included a map-function. This will aid you in your task to keep up with your whereabouts. This is another addition that was lacking in the old games. Many RPG fans used pen and paper to track their progress through the games back then, but that is fortunately not necessary anymore. Hardcore gamers can turn off the map function if they want.

The overall atmosphere of the game is both scary and exciting. When you walk down the dark corridors, your eyes and ears are on red alert. The flickering of light from your torch might reveal an enemy lurking ahead.. maybe someone is behind you, ready to attack? Legend of Grimrock involves the player in what is happening down in the darkest darkness of the mountain. This makes it very thrilling to play.

Monsters attacking (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
Monsters attacking (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)

Conclusion

Now we’ll take a look at the questions we started with. Can Legend of Grimrock match the previous games of the genre? I’d say yes, it does. It stays true to the legacy, but also introduces new features like auto-mapping, the ability to look around in any angle and so forth. Modern graphics do also help to make the world seem alive and vibrant in front of you.

As for the second question, is Legend of Grimrock a thrilling and fun game to play? I sure think so. πŸ™‚ I must say it is very atmospheric, more so than several other RPG’s I’ve played in the past.

Overall, Legend of Grimrock delivers on all fronts as a game of this genre. Highly recommended for old-school RPG fans and people curious about such kind of games.

Availability

You can buy Legend of Grimrock at Steam, GOG (Good Old Games) or directly from the developers (click here).

Trouble (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
Trouble (taken from http://www.grimrock.net/media/)
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11 comments

  1. That looks pretty cool. I really dig the cover art. If I had another comp system in good order I’d give this game a go.

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  2. Thank you for this well-written and interesting review. It sparked my interest in the game, and the automapping feature is very welcome! πŸ™‚
    The atmosphere and feel looks spot on, and I’m very tempted to give it a try after reading this.

    Like

    • Hello Mads,

      Thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚

      Happy to hear that you enjoyed the review. It is an atmospheric and exciting game to play, at least for people who like these kinds of old-school styled RPG’s. πŸ˜‰ I’ve downloaded quite a few such RPG’s for the Amiga now as well, since Legend of Grimlock made me want to play similar games. I’m then thinking of Abandoned Places, Dungeon Master 2: Legend of Skullkeep and many more.

      Do you have any favourite RPG’s, Mads?

      PS: Sorry for delay.. 😦 I’ll write you a mail soon.

      Like

      • I finished Eye of the Beholder back in the day, so that is definitely a favourite! Though I must admit that I sometimes used a hint book. I still have the save disk, so it’s a little dream of mine to load my party into EOB2 and continue the adventure. I discovered that a coder called CFOU released an Amiga version with improved (AGA) graphics some years ago, so it would be interesting to give that a try.
        Other than that, I spent way too long trying to discover spells in Dungeon Master, but I found the game a bit too difficult. I also remember playing Bloodwych, but that looks quite dated when I see the screenshots now.
        I’m waiting for your mail, but there’s no rush! Keep the blog posts coming! πŸ™‚

        Like

        • Eye of the Beholder is a tough game to complete, so you definitely deserve some credit for finishing it. πŸ™‚ There are many games I couldn’t complete if it hadn’t been for a hint book.

          That was unknown to me. An AGA version sounds very interesting.. must check that out. Thanks for the heads-up. πŸ™‚

          Like

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