Review by skeletorissatan
"So this is what happens when Dungeon Master gets a HD upgrade..."
Many games could be considered nostalgic to particular individuals for various reasons such as a personal affection for them or a game that has a certain memory attached to it such as "that" life threatening experience where your mom brought you a game you were not old enough for. However it is rare to find a game that an entire generation of players of video games could find nostalgic and it is these games that are rightly considered to be classics. In ten years time, the current generation of gamer will consider Call Of Duty and Borderlands and Halo to be their nostalgic masterpieces. Some people however will remember a string of games called Dungeon Crawlers, a genre that includes such titles as Dungeon Master and the infamous Eye Of The Beholder series. These games were devoid of any form of map, which lead to the interesting dynamic of having a stack of squared paper beside you as you played, and involved someone navigating his or her way throughout a dungeon located far underground whilst developing their character through traditional RPG mechanics of defeating enemies for experience points. So when the news came that a new game in this style was under development with next-gen graphics and a few added features, many a 1990's gamer rightfully wet themselves with anticipation. The game was to be entitled The Legend Of Grimrock and was to garner a 2011 release date and this set the stage for the masterpiece that was to come.
Essentially what Legend Of Grimrock did was take numerous puzzles from the aforementioned classic games in the Dungeon Crawler genre and update them in modern graphics with a few tweaks made to avoid the plagiarism claims. Factor in some really interesting party development that is incredibly simplistic but rather fun to fiddle around with until one has built the metaphorical "perfect party" and add an element of mystery and fear of what is to be found on the lower levels of the Grimrock mountain dungeons, gloss it over with High Definition graphics and this should already sound like a classic. The execution of the game is of a level that is rarely seen in modern games which focus on just pumping out cash to a brain dead generation of gamer, this is a rather difficult game that has some real sense of achievement to be found in it when beating that final enemy, or when leveling up so you can get that upgrade you needed five encounters back. Scattered throughout the hallowed hallways you are exploring with your four man party are numerous enemies and this game also marks the return of every retro gaming fan's wet dreams- a secrets mechanic. Many games have various collectibles found in game today but none quite have that impact of flashing the words "Secret Found" on screen when you acquire a particular piece of really incredible armor or a very strong weapon that you have either stumbled on by accident or searching for for many an hour. This is a game in which exploration is absolutely vital and one that has infinite replay value simply due to the lack of understanding as to whether you have found every secret per floor.
The leveling system on this game is incredibly simplistic but is also great to play around with and this may also be a game that you will restart and replay many a time just to check out all the possibilities that are found in the character development. Before you begin the game you have access to a character customization system that lets you tweak your character to suit your style of game play. Examples of this are the Mage and the Rogue which make an appearance in many Role Playing Games to the point they have been considered the standard class. Building a party that you will guide through the game is both an exciting and frustrating experience as you only have limited choices so there is a lot of strain on the player as they create their first party with no clue as to how it will affect their game play. As with most RPG's you gain a set amount of experience points per enemy killed and will eventually level up, giving access to Skill Points. These Skill Points can be put into one of a number of skills that are specific to the class of character you chose upon starting the game. If you persevere enough with one particular Skill then you will gain access to various special abilities such as the ability to fire two arrows at once for the Rogue Class or perhaps the ability to occasionally do bonus damage with some of the Fighter class' upgrades. This is one of the most well implemented leveling and character development schemes that has been found in a game in a long time and really does work very well and should invoke strong feelings of nostalgia for games such as Eye Of The Beholder.
This is one of the finest games of our generation but is definitely not aimed at the casual player, nor for anyone who has never played either Dungeon Master or Eye Of The Beholder. Many of the puzzles are carbon copies of puzzles from said games used for the purpose of granting access to either a new area or to a secret, and without prior knowledge as to how to complete these puzzles, you are in for one lonely, desolate and almost frustrating experience when traversing the murky hallways buried miles beneath Mount Grimrock. Couple this with a rather weak story and this is certainly not the perfect game by any means-throughout the game we are drip fed tiny little plot details either through notes, dream sequences or the rather short introductory sequence. This is the one crippling feature of the game that Almost Human Games should perhaps have put a little more time into. Graphically the game is fantastic and every hallway feels alive despite the utter isolation your characters feel due to the hallways being completely empty of friendly characters. The textures are all well rendered and the art design for the enemies you are fighting is near unmatched leading this to be one of the best looking RPG's out there, without ever delving into the flashy styling of games such as the Final Fantasy series. Another minor problem with this game is one that is pretty much consistent with every game of the genre, including this games source material, the inventory management is really not the best out there and by end game your characters will most likely be over-encumbered. The items in game should all have had a use beyond the initial section of the game that they are introduced in, and this is an unfortunate pock mark to an otherwise flawless game.
This game is a game that does certainly have its flaws but for the most part is pretty much the perfect game. This is a marvelous recreation of the old school Dungeon Crawler that every 1990's gamer grew up playing and loved, glossed over with the most beautiful coat of paint imaginable. The flaws to it are, for the most part, very minor and completely ignore-able and certainly do not blemish one of the best modern gaming experiences. It is cheap on Steam and has been since release so there really is no excuse to not go out and buy it right now.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/25/13
Game Release: Legend of Grimrock (US, 04/11/12)
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