|System: PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: NIS America||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Vanillaware||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: June 26, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
July 2, 2007 - GrimGrimoire is an interesting real-time strategy game. It's inextricably tied to the story which you are desperately trying to alter, not to mention figure out. There's plenty of depth, excitement, confusion, frustration and fun to be had. But don't gloss over the mention of "frustration." Some battles can take you over an hour, and the trial and error gameplay can really take its toll on your nerves when you don't get a particular order of events right. The game can seem overly anal at times as it relentlessly kicks you in the butt.
Story-wise, GrimGrimoire borrows heavily from the Harry Potter universe. It's a tale of young, magic apprentice. But the hero in this story is a girl. Lillet Blan is a recent enrollee at the Magic Academy where she is being trained in the discipline of magic. Here she learns there are four main components to magic: Sorcery, Glamour, Necromancy, and Alchemy. She's only been there a week. As the lessons progress you will receive various books on each of these four categories. These books are called Grimoires, and are rife with magical spells. There are three books for each of the different categories for a total of 12. As you collect them, you will have access to different powers and abilities. They will come in handy for the battles where you will have to defend yourself and the save your friends at the Academy.
A recently dismissed student named Archmage becomes a disgruntled and dangerous nemesis when he unleashes unholy magic to attack and kill innocent students at the school. Things get worse when Archmage teams up with Grimlet, another evil entity. Lillet realizes that things have gotten quite out of hand, and she's unable to put a stop to the carnage since she hasn't received enough magic training. She's simply not powerful enough. However, through a strange twist of fate, she finds herself reliving the first week of her training, but with total recall. She is able to go back in time to continue her education and collect more spells while attempting to alter the outcome of the future by changing events in the past.
If that sounds confusing, that's because it is. It's actually more confusing to explain than it is to experience it. The story is convoluted. It's loaded with all kinds of characters and situations, all of which don't seem to be interconnected. It's only after you make a few changes that you can see what effect the changes have on the future. It's virtually impossible to predict what actions are required to bring about a specific event, and that's where the trial and error come in to play. I'm not a fan of trial and error, especially in strategy games, but because this game is so heavily associated with the storyline, making it unique, I was more intrigued than annoyed. I wanted to see how things would turn out, but after a few hours the novelty wore off. The story still didn't make sense and seemed like just a bunch of random events thrown together, like a series of alternate, parallel universes that can be tied conveniently tied together at the whim of the developer.
Most of your time will be spent in battle. These battles can last a long time, sometimes longer than an hour. The downside is that there are no saves. You have to play each battle from beginning to end without interruption. Hey, it's real-time. I don't have a problem with that, but I can tell you that when I fail to invoke a specific spell in a specific order without any information or hints, I have a problem with that. When I do find out the answer, I'm at least willing to give it another shot, but I'm not very happy about it. I really don't like "luck" to play an integral role in my gameplay. Still, I continue on.
Spells that you will use in battle will be determined by the magic used by your adversary. Each spell and its corresponding magical category are used in the traditional rock/paper/scissors format. Unfortunately, you don't always know what your opponent has up his sleeve, which brings us back to the trial and error system. Thankfully, the game shows more depth than your standard Pokemon strategy as you begin to amass an army. You'll start out with a couple of elves and fairies. The fairies are used for attack, and the elves are used to harvest resources in the form of crystals. These crystals will allow you to purchase more minions to add to your army. Eventually, you'll have an army composed of demons, imps, giants, and fire-breathing dragons. Each of these beasts will represent a class of soldier from archers to mages. The dragon is by far one of the most powerful forces in the game, but it's expensive. You'll have to collect a lot of crystals to get your hands on one of these.