Exploring through a mountain turned dungeon staring at the same tile-set on the walls for hours on end may sound like something that would make for a dull and tedious game. Especially when the game limits you movement capabilities to a square-based grid and tosses environmental puzzles your way that could be easily solved if you could stand at a diagonal position. Then there’s the odd dial-a-spell magic system and unclear narrative that come off as clumsy. But somehow, Legend of Grimrock, developed by Finnish studio (seriously, is there anything the Finns can’t do?) Almost Human, have taken all of these bad design troupes and used them in a way that makes the game a highly memorable, and more importantly, deeply engaging game experience that should not be missed.
If you are familiar with old-school first person PC RPGs like Eye of the Beholder, than you should know exactly what you’re getting into here, so you can stop reading and just go play the game and get full satisfaction. For others, in Legend of Grimrock, everything is based on square tiles, the map, movement, puzzles, etc. Even your adventuring party is square; a group of 4 that your design yourself whom are all chained together, have been charged with a crime and cast into a mountain cum dungeon, Mt. Grimrock. Your task is to escape the mountain, and if you do so, your crimes will be absolved.
Upon waking up from a long and restful sleep that lasted well into the late afternoon the young man rubs the sleep from his eyes and goes about his daily routine. He washes up, gets dressed, and goes to check his answering machine. After a couple of messages from family and friends his employer informs him about yet another odd job that needs to be done. This time he has to fill in for a DJ at a nightclub and requests that the man be dressed to kill. He dons his silver motorcycle jacket and heads out to work.
Arriving at the club he puts a mask resembling a rooster on to conceal his identity and then bursts through the door knocking the armed bouncer to the floor where he proceeds to climb on top of him and repeatedly thrust his clasped fist into the unsuspecting guard’s head until nothing but a pile of brain, blood, and bits of skull paint the floor. By now other guards in the club have taken notice that something has gone awry, but even in their quick reaction they can help avoid being blind sided by the billy club the bouncer was once holding. Swipe after swipe the man opens their heads like eggs leaving smatterings of blood across the walls and floor. To the dismay of the other guards in the room one of their felled co-workers had a pistol in his possession which has now been turned on them. The sharpshooter accuracy of their attacker is unparalleled as he meticulously connects bullets to vital organs and aims for joints to remove limbs that would give them a fair advantage. To the mans demise a guard with a knife is hiding around a corner and as the killer makes his way to the angle he jumps out and buries the blade deep in the mad man’s throat. [Game Over – Press A To Restart]….
Arriving at the club he puts a mask resembling a rooster on to conceal his identity and then bursts through the door……
Back in the NES days things like tutorials and exactly what to do in a game was often a rare commodity. The only thing you really knew you had to do was brave your way from the beginning of a level to the end where you would ultimately fight a boss character. Things like warp zones, hidden areas, or what to do with different items and special moves were left up for the player to stumble upon and discover. Or better yet, talk to your friends about the game and share hints and tips or dig out your copies of Nintendo Power. It’s this sense of discovery and satisfaction that has been lost from many game over the years. Nowadays it seems many games want to hold your hand and make sure you don’t miss anything or get frustrated and give up on the game. That’s fine for many and I understand why developers do things like that, but there are some of us who miss the way things worked back in the NES days. Enter Dark Souls by From Software.