Legend of Grimrock is a fun, addicting dungeon crawling RPG that will keep you tied to the PC for many hours and that will push your brain to the limit.
1. The Story:
You play as 4 characters that were sentenced to a dungeon that, so-they-claim, no has ever come out alive. It's sort of a "Via Infinito" of Final Fantasy X. Oh but forget about the story. Let's move on to the juicy details.
2. The Gameplay:
Press New Game and you're taken to a screen where you can chose the overall difficulty (Easy, Normal, Hard) and choose whether or not you want to play this dungeon crawl game in an old-school mode. In old-school mode, you have no map. You have to build it yourself. So far I haven't really used the map and the Levels I have come across, so far, aren't very hard to memorize or easy to get lost but... knowing THERE IS a map works like a safeguard.
Options selected - you can now customize your 4 characters from appearance to status + skills or you can just select a default party if don't feel like it. In any case, the game starts.
You start off with nothing. Your characters have no clothes (in a non-erotic way, obviously!), no weapons, no items, no nothing. You move in a grid way, like in chess. You can move left, right, up and down. No diagonals here, though I think that could really come in handy, since attacking your enemies from the back or from any of the sides, causes much more damage and almost always hits, or at least it seems to. I might be seeing things, which is what everyone will feel after facing the mind lashing puzzles.
There are notes left by a previous dungeon crawler that, sometimes work as a tutorial, other times give you clues about what to do. Scrolls that will teach you new magic spells or recipes are also hidden and scattered and you’ll want to find every one of these if you have at least a mage or if you want to create items like health or energy potions.
2.1 The Combat:
The combat is very simple. Your 4 characters have two little-god-given hands that they can use, armed or not, to attack the enemy…but it’s actually not that simple.
Two of the characters are in the front row while the other two are in the back-seat. You can switch them anytime you like.
The front row characters are those who get attacked, murdered, bashed, bitten, tackled and so on by the beautiful creepy monsters Legend of Grimrock has to offer, that are IN FRONT of them. They can attack the enemies with ANY weapon – from knives to smashing axes or to bare-hands.
The back-seat characters aren’t attacked by monsters in front of them but instead by enemies that managed to sneak behind them. They can only attack enemies in front of them with ranged weapons or with magic.
Just like any RPG you have HP (health here) and MP (Energy here) and if you reach zero health on character, it dies or if you run out of energy, you can’t cast magic or attack enemies.
A big difference Legend of Grimrock has is the character’s need for food. You will encounter and gather gruesome things they can eat. If they start to get hungry, their attack power becomes almost 0 and they miss a lot. I haven’t let any of them starve and to be honest – it's not in my plans.
There are some huge crystals scattered through the game that will completely heal your characters and revive the fallen ones, so don’t worry if one or two characters KO. They can still be restored. Oh, but do worry if you remain with only one. Killing monsters with only ONE character is cruel.
2.1.1 The Good about the Combat:
It’s simple and unique. You can dodge enemy attacks by running around like crazy and you can also take advantage of certain situations, like trapdoors to get rid of an enemy quickly.
2.1.2 The Bad about the Combat:
It’s sometimes a little unfair. Not when you get cornered by tons of enemies and they smash you into pieces but when your attacks, sometimes, miss a lot, while the enemy is tearing you apart. Magic is also a little underrated. It can hit multiple targets but it takes a lot of energy, you need skill levels to actually use it and you must perform a serious of mouse clicks that take time – time you could use attacking the enemy in other ways.
2.2 The Puzzles:
Ooooh. It gets tough here. I won’t reveal any details about the puzzles and spoil someone’s experience but mark my words: the puzzles are TOUGH. Very tough.
Uncountable were the times I found myself completely lost without the slightest idea of what I needed to do to move forward. I thought over and over: “What am I missing?” “Do I have to go back?” “Is this a bug that prevents me from going?”
Yeah, my whole neighborhood could hear me screaming every time I got stuck somewhere but the puzzles are cleverly made and are satisfying, once solved, obviously.
2.2.1 The Good about the Puzzles:
Unique and enrolling. I never came across puzzles like these.
2.2.2 The Bad about the Puzzles:
Even on easy mode, there are no clues, no hints and sometimes it gets quite frustrating. You are stuck somewhere and it seems like you’re going to be forever. On Easy mode, I think Legend of Grimrock could feature some sort of clues or hints to help the lower IQ players – like me – move on and enjoy the game.
Sometimes, what keeps you from moving on is a tiny switch hidden on a wall that you can’t find. This works for secret passages but it’s actually frustrating if it keeps you from moving further. Again, a hint on Easy mode would be nice.
Imagine I am in a room that I need to open a door but I just can’t find a way too. I could be able to press a “Help” button and the game would say “There’s a switch somewhere, find it”. At least I would know what to look for because pressing switches IS NOT the only way to open doors.
2.3 The Secrets
Legend of Grimrock features millions of secret passages that offer breath-taking rewards like precious and powerful weapons/armors.
2.3.1 The Good about Secrets:
Great rewards that don’t come at the expense of something precious. Some games, as we all know, offer obtainable items at the cost of other items. Imagine, there’s a health potion at the end of a tunnel that is protected by a couple of poisonous monsters. You use at least 3 cure poison potions to obtain the health potion…satisfying..? I don’t think so. That DOESN’T happen here, fortunately.
2.3.2 The Bad about Secrets:
Finding the secret passages relies too much on finding tiny switches hidden in the never-ending dungeon walls. I know I just said back there this would work for secret passages but finding switches is not very…entertaining.
3. The Visuals
Visually, Legend of Grimrock is actually quite impressive. The walls though very repetitive, are well designed and graphically have good quality but the best visuals come from the creepy monster that inhabit Grimrock. Each monster is very unique and scary and its own way and everything put together results in a creepy atmosphere. Effects, like illumination from torches, are also well made and add a nice flavor to the overall twist.
Legend of Grimrock ran fine on system (Fast CPU (i7) + Average GPU (GeForce GT 540M) at the highest settings but it did push my laptop temperatures, specially the GPU temperature. Still, I believe even an entry-level GPU like a GeForce GT 520M or a Radeon HD 6450M will be able to run it, if not in the lowest settings, if using a laptop, while, probably any recent desktop GPU should be able to handle it easily.
4. The Sound:
I personally would like to hear more creepy sounds while exploring but the noises made by monsters and other "noisy" elements are pretty decent and realistic and help on the creation of the creepy environment.
5. The Game
Legend of Grimrock is a very, very satisfying dungeon crawling game that offers a balanced combat system, that needs some tweaking and provides great mind lashing puzzles that are a little too hard sometimes and should definitely be accompanied of a hints/clues system, on easy mode, in my opinion.
Undoubtedly the best Indie Game I have played so far and at a very very reasonable Price. DO NOT MISS this game. It's really worth the shot.
I consider Legend of Grimrock to be Very Good. 9/10