Rewarding blast from the past with modern wrapping

User Rating: 8 | Legend of Grimrock PC
I love RPGs, but one of my recurring issues with modern role playing games is how they focus more and more on the wrapping, and less and less on the game elements. The tendency seems to be to take more and more of the traditional RPG elements out to make the games more appealing to the masses.

I can understand the desire to broaden the appeal so the game can sell more copies and hence make loads of money, but in my opinion that approach has killed a lot of the diversity and genres in the gaming space.

So, it is wonderful to see a game give a big middle finger to these new gaming trends, and just take a deep dive into a classic old school RPG. It's a bold move to do something different, however in this case, it is a successful one.

Basically you start out as a team of four prisoners escaping their cell. You move as if you are one person in a first person game, but you can attack monsters as a whole group. You need to take into consideration the position of your team though, as the guys in the back can only use long range weapons. Typically you will put warriors in front, and mages or archers in the back. You have full freedom to design your characters from a list of abilities, so any combination is fine, which helps to make the game replayable.

There are basically two game elements. Killing enemies, and solving puzzles. Each level has a healthy mic of the two, however I'd say it's quite heavy on the puzzle side. Puzzles are anything from very basic ones, like throwing a stone onto a pressure plate which will open a door, or to more complex ones, like collecting a series of objects that has to be placed in the proper place, or pushing hidden buttons in the correct order to open doors found elsewhere.

The puzzles can be a bit tough as you approach the final level, but never too hard or frustrating. in the worst case you can always check for the solution online, the game already has a solid fanbase which are discussing the game.

The most old-school part of the game is the combat system. You basically move through dungeons made up of square cells, and the game is an odd mix of turn based and real time game. You move one cell at a time, and turn 90 degrees at a time. At first it feels quite weird, but later it feels natural. When you fight a monster, each of your teammembers can attack in turns. Or rather, they attack and then become unable to fight for a bit until it is that persons turn again. How long he has to wait depends on your characters abilities and equipment, which you can continuously improve and optimize by leveling up and find new loot.

The system works quite well in fact, however, it has some basic flaws which is in your favor. because of the square movement pattern, it is quite easy to avoid enemies. You can easily dance around them while they try to figure out which square they want to move to. This breaks the concept of a role playing game a bit in fact, as you can basically defeat any enemy at any level by just moving around fast and exploiting the poor AIs ability to attack you properly. It just needs more patience when at a lower level.

So, the main challenge in the game is to solve the puzzles, find secrets and cool loot, however, it is fun to level up, learn new spells and so on so you can punish your enemies.

On the graphical level, the game is quite simple, but the 3D engine is modern and has some nice effects thrown in. There is some variation, however, the levels are built using square blocks, so there is limits to how much variation there is. And, everything happens on one flat area. So, it's not exactly looking like Skyrim, but it has an entire different level of fun to it.

Although the game is old school, the game developers made a great job in making the user interface easy to use. All of the game's more complex features, such as brewing potions, can be done using a completely intuitive system. I wish it was easier to cast complex spells though, you need to manually select the proper pattern for each time. However, there might be a way to do that, I did not actually bother to go through the tutorial. The game is already so easy to play. So, the game is very easily accessible, even for the most casual player.

This game has great value for money, and if you are just a little bit interested in RPGs you owe to yourself and check this out.