First Look: Legend of Grimrock

This is going to be really short and no-frills since it’s pretty late and I didn’t have the presence of mind to take screenshots or anything.

Legend of Grimrock launched today and from my first couple of hours playing I’m going to say it’s delivering exactly what developer Almost Human Games promised they’d deliver: old school party-based dungeon crawling with updated graphics. I freaking LOVE IT!! I wonder how many others will, though. Lots of people say they want old school games until they actually start to play them. 🙂

When you first fire up the game you can use a pre-rolled party if you want to miss out on half the fun, or create 4 new characters. There are only 4 races: human, minotaur, lizardman and insectoid. I went with a Minotaur Fighter and a Human Melee-based rogue for my front ranks, and a human Archer Rogue and a human Mage for the back row. That’s how I assigned my skills anyway.

I choose normal difficulty and resisted the temptation to go truly old-school and turn off the automap since I had no graph paper handy. 🙂

Movement is turn-based and uses basic WASD controls. Q&E turn you 90 degrees, A&D sidestep. You can look around with the mouse but mostly you just use it to click on stuff. Combat is time-based. Click on a party member to have him/her attack and then a cooldown for that party member starts. Magic is a bit more complex. Clicking a magic user brings up a panel of runes. Choose some runes and click Cast to cast your spell.

So the game starts and my 4 party members are… totally naked with no gear. I start wandering through the hallways scrounging up cast-off weapons. I did get a knife for my melee fighter, which was great since he’d trained in daggers. But my Axe-Trained Fighter wound up with a mace and my Missile-Weapon trained back-rank Rogue wound up picking up a few rocks she could throw. My Mage experimented a bit and quickly figured out a short range flame spell.

Early enemies come one at a time and aren’t too tough if you have a Mage shooting fire out her palms. Health regenerates by itself, slowly, and there are plenty of doors that you can close behind you if you get low on hitpoints. Monsters don’t seem to heal while they wait around for you to come out and finish them off. There is a food gauge but most early monsters drop chunks of meat you can eat. I assume running out of food will mean you won’t regenerate health, but I’m not positive about that. There’s also a Rest option to speed up healing time but I assume (maybe I should look for a manual…I’m assuming a lot of stuff) you have to be somewhere safe. I locked myself in a small room when I used it.

Light is an issue. You probably want to yank a torch off the wall and give it to a party member if you want good light as you explore. In fact, grab a bunch of them because they do burn out (though if you stick a burnt out torch into a sconce it magically springs back to life).

Puzzles abound, most of them obvious up near the top of the dungeon. Throw a rock on a pressure play to open a grate, press the loose brick to swing open the hidden door. That kind of thing. There are shrines that resurrect and heal your party, but they seem to be 1-use objects.

I only made it to the second level of the dungeon tonight (and level 2 with my characters) but wow… this is EXACTLY the game I’d hoped it would be. It was like I was back on my Atari ST playing Dungeon Master again. Though you can’t repeatedly slam a gate down on a monster to kill it (man, did I abuse that trick back in the day), and the one time I trapped a monster in a pit it respawned back at its starting point.

Almost Human promised an old-school gaming experience and they delivered it. If you’re really nostalgic for the old days of dungeon crawling, but can’t stomach 1987’s graphics, then definitely check out Legend of Grimrock. Even if you only play it for a few evenings you’ll get your $15 ($13.50 if you hurry) worth of fun out of it. But be warned…if you just THINK you want some old school gameplay, you might want to wait for a demo or something.

Also, and I kind of hate to say this but…this would make a GREAT iPad game…

3 thoughts on “First Look: Legend of Grimrock

  1. I am SO rusty with this game. I picked Old School (follow the right wall!) and used the default party (which is actually the same make-up as your custom party, BTW) and set off, but I ended up getting everyone killed not-very-far into the first level because I totally forgot absolutely EVERYTHING about how to play these games — especially what a friend and I used to call the “Dungeon Master Two-Step” during combat.

  2. I just found my first complaint. I installed on my desk computer this morning and fired up a game just to get it to create saves and stuff (was playing on the living room computer last night and it’s too text heavy for me to play from across the room). Anyway loot and stuff isn’t randomized, so (using the default party this time) I zoomed through the first level in just a few minutes since I knew where everything was and what I’d get went. 🙁

    The mage is key for early survival, IMO. I just keep spamming that fire spell every time I can. When her mana goes down I stop fighting and rest until she gets it back.

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