You get three guesses to what game my review of the week is going to be on.
The first three don’t count.
Oh boy, this review on Legend of Grimrock 1 was in a rough shape when I came back to fix it up. When I say it was rough, I worse than the shapes my reviews on A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 were. *shudder*. I almost wanted to completely rebuild the review from the ground up but I decided not to. Instead, I did a lot of fixing and I think it’s a lot better than what it was. (Even though it basically was a full rewrite. Oh well….) See you guys this weekend with the new videogame review. Oh right, I’m still doing that Steam’s Buyer Guide.
A Paladin’s Review: Legend of Grimrock (1): Fun Old School Dungeon Crawling With A Creepy Atmosphere
- Genre: 1st Person Old-School Tile-based RPG Focused on Combat with Puzzles.
- Developed and Published by: Almost Human Games
- Platform: Windows, MacOSX and Linux
- Business Model: Base Game
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Legend of Grimrock (LoG) is a RPG dungeon crawling adventure. It mixes old-school dungeon crawling with modern graphics and design. It focuses on survival and puzzle solving with some combat. Combat and travel is executed on a grid-based system. You and the enemies move forwards, backwards and sides in squares, an old-school throwback.
The game takes place in a world known only as The Northern Realms. You play as a group of four prisoners of varying races. These four prisoners have been sentenced for their crimes against the King by “The Court”. Your sentence is to be thrown into the pit at the top of Mount Grimrock and once at the bottom of the pit, you’ll be pardoned of your crimes. The only problem is, no one has survived the depths of Mount Grimrock. Can you survive past the creatures, traps and challenges before you? Well, your going to find out soon enough. Your mission is to do just that. You have to find out a way out of the place. Solve the puzzles, unlock the mysteries of Grimrock and survive. You’re also being talked to in your dreams by someone…or something. The story is mostly told in dream sequences and scrolls left lying around in the dungeons. From these scrolls, you’ll get clues to what’s going on in the depths of Mount Grimrock as well as vague hints about the outside world.
Combat and Puzzles
LoG features combat, puzzle & riddle solving, RPG elements and exploration. Combat is tile based and in real time. Since it has this tile movement, your enemies must be directly facing you to attack. They’re unable to attack at a diagonal from you. The combat system is a bit quirky and wonky. It takes quite a bit of practice to get used to fighting on what is essentially squares and being able to only face four directions. Not only that, it’s in real-time, so creatures may come out of no where and take you by surprise. For the most part, the combat doesn’t have a lot of depth but it’s surprisingly enjoyable. Since you can’t take too many direct hits from enemies, as they hit like a truck, most of the time will be spent sidestepping around enemies and poking them to death with spells and weapon swipes. This also means that getting caught in a surrounded by creatures will lead to a quick death. This can be a frustrating part of the game and it can happen almost too many times for comfort. However, it usually felt like I had gotten myself in that bad situation, not the game. So, you need to be very self-aware of your surroundings and survive as best you can. Fortunately, there’s a finite amount of creatures on every level. Once you kill them all, you’re given free reign to walk around and explore the level on your own terms. Still, I will say that the combat system stands on a razor’s edge. At times it can be far too easy and others it can be far too frustrating. This is the type of system that if it strays just a little, will cease to be enjoyable.
There’s also has a variety of different puzzles and riddles you must solve to not only advance but to find hidden secrets. Switches, levers, camouflaged buttons, defeating the right enemies or finding keys are all items used to impede your forward progress. Still, figuring it out is what I enjoy most about LoG. Even if it is tempting to use the Internet or Steam guides to solve a particularly tricky puzzle. (Which I did do that a couple of times. I know, I know). LoG definitely shines when it’s about puzzles and less so when you’re in combat. So, if you aren’t a fan of puzzles, then you might not enjoy LoG that much.
This game is a looker. Everything has a fidelity and crispness that you wouldn’t expect out of such an indie project. The creature designs and animations are very well done. It was impressive how lifelike some of the attacking creatures looked when they attacked. Even if a lot of the animations are reused, I still think of these creatures being real, of having substance. The lighting system in this game is excellent, with shadows playing lifelike over the walls and creatures as you move about. It all sells the experience of being in a dark, underground dungeon.
Audio and Atmosphere
While LoG has an awesome intro menu song that pumps you up for action, there isn’t any music in the game itself. Instead, the game has whistling, quiet winds and other sound elements that sell the atmosphere of LoG. This sense that you’re in an underground dungeon that is out to kill you. That every step forward is both a step towards ultimate freedom and possible death. Just to really sink it in, they let you hear the footsteps of potential enemies nearby. As though at any time, they might pop out of the wall and split you in two. But you wanna know the best part? There are some enemies that stand perfectly still until it’s much too late. Think on that for a while.
PC Settings and More
LoG comes with all the graphics, audio and keybinding settings you’ll need. Resolution options are plentiful and it can display in fullscreen, windowed borderless and windowed. V-sync has a enabled/disabled setting. Texture resolution, filtering, shadow quality and SSAO quality have low-medium-high sliders. There’s also separate audio sliders with mute options. Autosave can be turned on/off with other minor settings included as well. Keyboard controls can be completely configured if needed. You can also enable a touchscreen/tablet mode which is pretty neat. There is no FOV slider and this is probably intentional for game balance. I can’t say for certain if the FoV is fine or not but I think the grid-based movement will prevent any motion sickness from becoming an issue. It should be noted that Steam cloud isn’t enabled for LoG.
I really enjoyed exploring through the depths of Mount Grimrock. The creepy atmosphere is ever present as you crawl through empty halls expecting danger to popout at any second. The combat is pretty good as well but it can easily tip towards too easy or too frustrating. Legend of Grimrock was an unexpected treat and pleasure for me to play through. It isn’t often that I find a game that just clicks with me like this one did. While a few of the puzzles were a bit of a hair-pullers, some of the riddles moreso, I didn’t feel like they were too opaque or difficult to figure out. Though it’s really tempting to just use the internet or Steam guides to get all the answers. Even so, there’s 20 hours of content to enjoy. Side note: Legend of Grimrock was one of my favorite games of 2012.
Thanks for reading as always!