Dungeon crawler fans can finally rejoice. Developer Almost Human Games has released a game that is true to the dungeon crawler genre. The Legend of Grimrock takes us back to a more innocent time in gaming where games like Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, The Bards Tale and the Wizardry series dominated the market.
During this time, role-playing games were about exploring dark dungeons, killing creatures, collecting items and killing boss creatures that inhabit dark hallways. This was before role-playing games made the transition to 3D and became repetitive first-person shooters with no soul.
Legend of Grimrock takes place inside a mountain appropriately named Mount Grimrock. Criminals and all manner of evil are banished to this mountain as punishment. As a group of adventurers who venture into the mountain, you will need more than strength to survive the dangers that lurk within.
Legend of Grimrock is your traditional turn-based dungeon crawler seen from a first-person perspective. Gamers can use the in-game arrows or the keyboard to walk freely through the dungeons. The keyboard uses the standard W,S,A,D key configuration. Combat allows you to move freely, but you have to engage the encounter with each party member separately.
The combat system prevents button mashing; each character has a cool down while fighting. During this cool down the character is vulnerable. This also applies to casting magic spells. You can only cast one spell per character at any given time. This prevents gamers from spamming attacks or magic spells during combat.
The game has a great spell system that resembles FTL’s Dungeon Master. This system is a collection of runes that must be clicked in a certain order to cast a spell. The best way to learn spells is to tinker with the rune system, but scrolls containing runes to certain spells can be found inside the dungeon. However, just because you find a spell doesn’t mean you will be able to use it.
This is where the old-school element of Legend of Grimrock comes into play. Once you have discovered a new spell, it doesn’t save into a spell list. You must either keep the scroll in your inventory for future reference (which will clutter your inventory over time) or write the runes down on a piece of paper. This is how classic role-playing games worked back in the day. Some of the earlier spells are easy to remember, but as the game progresses, the spells become too complex to recall from memory.
There is an option to disable the auto mapping feature. When this feature is disabled, you must draw your own maps on paper to keep track of your location. This is reminiscent of old-school role-playing games. This makes for a very authentic Dungeons & Dragons experience; it mimics pen and paper D&D.
There is also a crafting system in Legend of Grimrock. You can craft your own healing potions as long as you have the appropriate materials. Alchemy recipes can be found in the dungeon while you explore.
Legend of Grimrock incorporates old tricks from games like Dungeon Master. One in particular is searching for buttons that are hidden inside the dungeon walls. Gamers familiar with the older games will recognize these old tricks right away, but the newer generation will have to learn the ropes so to speak.
There is more to Legend of Grimrock than killing creatures. Each character needs to eat; there is a food gauge that keeps track of hunger. Feeding your group is not as easy as it sounds. If you do not ration your food properly, your group will slowly die from hunger. Hey, an adventurer needs to eat you know.
It’s also important to collect torches along the way. Torches burn out rather quickly, so once your supply depletes, you’re left in the dark. It’s almost impossible to find your way around without a torch.
Character stats are based on the class/race chosen during the character design process. There are four different races and three different character classes to choose from. The races are: Human, Minotaur, Lizardman and Insectoid. The classes include: fighter, rogue and magic.
Each class comes with its own perks and talents; these can be selected during the character design process. Character attributes change based on the perks and talents chosen.
The in-game environment is beautiful; it resembles your classic dungeon crawler, but somehow appears modern at the same time. There’s an impressive blend of 2D/3D graphics that look fantastic. However, this is not your typical tribute to classic dungeon games. By holding down the right mouse button, you can view the entire environment in true 3D. This adds a modern appeal to a classic concept.
The atmosphere is dark; encounters wait around every corner. Legend of Grimrock keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time. There isn’t much in the way of music, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It would ruin the dungeon experience. There is nothing more heart pounding than hearing an enemy just a few steps away. Sometimes creatures will jump out of nowhere and scare the daylights out of you.
Almost Human has done an outstanding job of bringing back the adventure in PC role-playing games. They have taken a concept that hasn’t been seen in years and revived it for the modern age. Hopefully, we’ll see more games like this from Almost Human in the near future.
You can purchase the Legend of Grimrock for $14.99 from GOG.com or from the developer’s website: http://www.grimrock.net/
James ‘Daripp3r’ Pittaro
Developer: Almost Human
Publisher: Almost Human
|Polished environments; the best dungeons I’ve had the pleasure of crawling through in years. This supersedes any role-playing game in recent memory; this is the real deal.|
|Creepy, eery and downright scary.|
|Nothing in today’s market can match the extreme dungeon experience that Legend of Grimrock offers.|
|A true Dungeons & Dragons experience at a bargain price. Almost Human could charge more for this title and it would still be worth the price of admission.|