Anyone remember the game Eye of the Beholder on the Amiga? If so, and you really enjoyed it, and have been waiting for a similar type game since, then this is your lucky day. Developer Almost Human has brought us a similar first-person dungeon crawler type game called Grimrock which has a very old-school feel.
I recommend you take a pen and paper out though as getting lost in this new world of dark and damp dungeons, that are full of huge evil snails and other oddities, is going to happen. Drawing your own maps to keep track of where to go as you play is a must. Otherwise you will get frustrated.
You start out with a small cut-scene that explains that you are in a party of four prisoners who get thrown into a huge dungeon (the titular Grimrock), and instructed that if you can escape all charges against you will be dropped and you will be able to free to go. Sounds easy right? Well, unfortunately no one has ever escaped the dungeon yet. So as you can imagine the odds are stacked against you.
You start out with a party of four, where you have four different races to choose from: humans, lizardmen, minotaurs and insectoids. Each species has its uses, from the human being an all-rounder leaving the remaining races to specialize in one of three different classes that include fighter, rogue and mage, respectively. On top of the race/class distinctions, Grimrock has a fairly simple statistical attribute system. As you gain skill points for each member, you can use those points to level up some of your class-based skills. Such as some air-magic and defence skills for your mage or sharpen up those sword skills for your fighters. If you raise a single skill high enough that’s when you start unlocking perks, like new spells and stat boosts. Obviously you need to do this as the deeper you go into the Grimrock the harder things get.
The actual controls, although at first seeming a bit fiddly, are all driven by using your mouse to select things and attack all of those creatures you face. That leaves the keyboard keys to move around. Moving around is a major part of playing this game. Unlike past games like The Eye of the Beholder that I mentioned before, you need to move around while in combat. If you don’t, you will die quickly. It took me a while at the beginning to realise this and I thought I was just missing my hits a lot, but I soon learnt that movement is the key to winning fight. Some of the creatures you face even require you to hit them from certain angles that leave their weak spot open. I also have to point out that your party is split into having two guys at the front and two at the back. The guys you have at the back can’t use melee weapon attacks, so you need to use them for magic or throwing items such as daggers. For the guys at the front, you are best to kit them out with heavy armour and give them the best melee items you have.
Once this is all mastered though, you will really enjoy Grimrock. The game looks great and everything is pretty detailed, and draws you well into the feeling of being in a dark, damp and dingy dungeon; one that you really want to get out of. Grimrock is also full of puzzles. It’s not just a maze game. It has secret areas that you find by pushing in hidden stones in the walls, to some really hard mind-boggling puzzles that will drive you mad. You can play through Grimrock avoiding most of the puzzles if you wish, but that’s part of the enjoyment and satisfaction finding the hidden areas.
Now, I am a huge fan of a good dungeon crawler, and I haven’t actually found one as good as this is many years. This game is great fun and very enjoyable, and as it’s in the lower end price bracket it’s a bargain. They could have packaged this up and sold it at a top end price. They would not have failed. Grimrock, suddenly jumped out of the woodwork at me, as I had no idea it was coming. Once I got it installed and ready to play though I was hooked instantly and I’m exicted to read they will be bringing out add-ons that I can only presume will be more dungeon areas and weapons.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10