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January 28th, 2013, 01:03
Legend of Grimrock
Hardcore dungeon rpg for a new generation, or a nostalgian trip that only oldschoolers enjoy?

Story
Four prisoners are taken to the top of Mount Grimrock where they are thrown down into a dungeon and then pardoned for their crimes against the king. Of course, no one who got tossed into the dungeon have been able to come back. Soon after the new prisoners begin to explore their grim fate they are contacted in their sleep by an unknown voice who call to them from deep down below. If they can reach whoever carry that voice they might be able to get out. Along the way they begin to find helpful notes left by an unknown person called Toorum, a friendly beacon among grissly monsters and an occasional earthquake that feels that the whole dungeon is about to crumble down over their heads.

Engine: Graphics & Sound
The greatest part of Legend of Grimrock is it's presentation. Legend of Grimrock isn't just a polished dungeon crawler, its above average when it comes to beauty. The modern engine is capable of rendering light and darkness in real time which offers an unique eperience where light becomes an important gameplay element, both for puzzles and for spotting enemies. Only games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R or Amnesia have delivered this level of atmosphere to me before. This is a game to play when it's dark to get fully absorbed. This is the first game that captured the horror of a pitch black dungeon and it actually made me feel claustrophobic at times. The monsters very detailed and beautifully animated. The noises they make (or the noises you hear when there's no monsters around) really add to the atmosphere and keep you on your toes.

Gameplay
Legend of Grimrock is a hardcore partybased roleplayinggame in first person. Its greatest gimmick is an attempt to go back to the gridbased dungeonsystems of the early 90'ies. Before "isometric" was "in", these first-person crawlers allowed you to look and move in 4 directions but not diagonally, up or down. If you stood in a 1-square-wide corridor you cannot strafe an incoming fireball. To create these limits in a modern engine might sound a bit odd, but this actually creates an unique gameplay with many special strategies. If you run on the "hardcore" setting you won't get an automap at all and you have to memorize the dungeon with pen and pencil or in your head. This might be neccessary to be able to find all the hidden secrets and there are almost a hundred throughout the game.

Another aspect with dungeons like these is that they offer logical puzzles. There's often just one solution and you need to figure it out based on what you have and sometimes based on notes you get. These can be everything from pressuring plates, pulling levers to using torches to placing the right item into an alchove. If you are the kind of person who enjoy puzzles this is the game for you. Otherwise you are likely to get frustrated.

The party system allows you to create four characters out of four races and three professions. Each profession gets access to six talent trees of which you are probably just going to explore 2 or 3 in one playthrough. Magic is cast by clicking in runes that must be found (or guessed) before a spell can be used. Naturally the monsters are vulnerable or immune against certain magic so I am glad I had access to all four spellschools even though it took awhile to get good. Fighters can specialize in swords, axes, maces and knives (for rogues), each with their own speciality. There are also three kinds of protection; light, heavy and evasion. The former reduce damage taken and the latter avoid damage alltogether (if you are lucky).

Verdict
The atmosphere and beautiful graphics makes LoG a modern game. It's not for "hardcore oldschoolers", but it's really for players, young and old, who enjoys thinking over action. This is a game that will stretch your brain in many different aspects, from logical puzzles, to character planning to spatial ability. It's a fairly unique game and rather cheap as well. All things considered it was the best RPG in 2012 for me.

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