|Dev: Almost Human|
|Pub: Almost Human|
|Release: April 11, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
The story of Legend of Grimrock is fairly unobtrusive, mostly disappearing after you're first cast into the dungeon (absolved of your crimes in the process, though getting out is entirely on you). Rather than climbing to the top of a tower, you're working your way down from the top level of the complex to its ground floor, slaying monsters and solving puzzles the whole way. There are, occasionally, hints from another adventurer who preceded you, as well as some equipment he decided to leave around for various reasons. The second half of the game introduces some surprisingly jarring plot twists that really take the game in a different direction than one would expect, shifting the focus from pure escape into something perhaps a bit more noble and far-reaching. I don't want to spoil too much, in this capacity, so we'll suffice to say that the story will often be out of your mind, leaving you free to contemplate the dungeon's creepy atmosphere. This atmosphere can be enhanced if one opts out of seeing damage numbers, making it ambiguous how much effect one is actually having on enemies, or turn off the game's auto-map, putting the onus on the player to memorize the layout or craft their own map, which makes getting lost a frighteningly real prospect.
This isn't to say that Grimrock is without flaws. While the combat is relatively intuitive, its interface is mouse-driven and can get a little too hectic for what it is, especially when you're managing a spell-caster, since spells are cast by selecting from a grid of nine runes. The rune combinations must be punched in anew each time, requiring that a player memorize their favorite spells for repeated use, such that, especially in the early game, most will probably find themselves falling back on the same one-rune spell in combat over and over again for expediency's sake. That you can't see the amount of mana you have remaining while casting is also an issue, and managing the inventory at all during combat is pretty much impossible, since it doesn't pause the game when you open a character's backpack.
These are fairly minor nitpicks, though, especially since Legend of Grimrock is not a combat-focused game, and even its combat is more puzzle-like than anything else. The focus is on atmosphere and brain-teasers, both of which the game pulls off with absolute aplomb and unbelievably slick production, to the point where one can almost smell the grime and mold on the dungeon's walls. It's a tense and enjoyable throwback to a type of game that seemed to have long since faded from view.
Date: May 2, 2012