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Legend of Grimrock Review 2012

Legend of Grimrock Review


  Sometimes developers and publishers abandon the production of certain sub genres of video games. Sometimes this is because they perceive that there is no longer a market for these types of games or that the buying public will buy more of this shiny new thing that they have come up with over here.


  I think it is safe to say that this has been a mistake on their part; Legend of Grimrock is one of those games that are just not made any longer. This is an old school dungeon crawler that harkens back to the days of games like Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master, or Wizardry.


  Legend of Grimrock is the type of game that should have been made back in the 90's, but I am glad it was made now. Almost Human, the studio behind Legend of Grimrock took a huge chance on developing a game that would cater to the nostalgia of the gamers of old.


Grimlock er grimrock er I mean

Grimlock, err I meant Grimrock, sigh, I meant Legend of Grimrock.


  What you have here is the bare bones classic dungeon crawl, this is not a game that will hold your hand and make things easy. This is a game that will tax not only your physical dexterity with the keyboard, but also force you to perform mental gymnastics as you try to solve the many devious puzzles scattered throughout the 13 levels that make up the dungeon inside of Grimrock.


  About the only thing that Almost Human made easy was the fact that you can auto-map, but even that option can be turned off if you want to crack out the old graph paper and try to map the dungeon yourself (believe me you don't).


Skeletal Phalanx

Stop poking around.


  The first step in starting a new game is to select a difficulty level from one of three choices (easy, normal or hard). You then have the chance to either create your own party or go with one that is pre-generated for you (it is at this time that you can also select the Old School Mode to turn off the auto mapping).


  There are four races to choose from:



Strength    10

Dexterity   10

Vitality      10

Willpower 10


Available skill points: 4

Seven avatar portraits available (plus one hidden one that you can get if you solve a puzzle later in the game).



Strength   15

Dexterity    6

Vitality     14

Willpower  7


Available skill points: 1

Extra food consumption +20%

Four avatar portraits available.



Strength   10

Dexterity  12

Vitality     10

Willpower  9


Available skill points: 3

Four avatar portraits available.



Strength      8

Dexterity   11

Vitality        8

Willpower 14


Available skill points 3

Extra food consumption +15 %

Four avatar portraits available.


  Each race has 10 extra points that can be added in any way that you see fit to the four base attributes.


  There are only three classes in Legend of Grimrock, each with their own unique (mostly) skill set.



  Fighter Skills:






    Unarmed Combat



  Mage Skills:

    Air Magic  (Spells at 4, 9, 14, 19, and 22).

    Earth Magic (Spells at 3, 7 11, and 13).

    Fire Magic (Spells at 2, 7, 13, and 16).

    Ice Magic (Spells at 3, 7, 13, and 19).

    Spell Craft (Two spells available at 5).

    Staff Defense



  Rogue Skills:




    Missile Weapons

    Throwing Weapons

    Unarmed Combat


  Every time you level a character you gain 3 skill points to spend on that classes skill set, so choose wisely when you are spending your skill points.


  To round out character creation you have two trait slots that you can fill. This is the only time you will be able to select traits for your characters so once again choose wisely.



  Aggressive, + 4 to attack power.

  Agile, +2 to Dexterity.

  Athletic, +2 to strength.

  Aura, +15 to energy.

  Cold-Blooded, +25 to cold resistance.

  Evasive, +7 to evasion.

  Daemon Ancestor, +25 to fire resistance.

  Fist Fighter, +6 to attack power when fighting unarmed (everybody was Kung-Fu fighting).

  Head Hunter (Minotaur only), +3 to attack power for each skull in the Minotaur's inventory.

  Healthy, +2 to vitality

  Natural Armor (Insectoid only), +5 to protection.

  Poison Resistant, +25 to poison resistance.

  Skilled, +3 additional skill points to spend on your classes skill sets (this means humans can start   with up to seven points in skills if you choose this trait).

  Strong Mind, +2 to Willpower.

  Tough, +15 to Health.


  Once you are done with creating your band of four heroes, it's time to head off to Mount Grimrock via airship. You are deposited at the top of Mount Grimrock in chains with absolutely no gear, not even clothes on your back.


  You have been found guilty of crimes against the kingdom but by the good grace of the king you have been pardoned... kind of, the only catch is that you must survive and escape from Mount Grimrock, a feat no one has ever done before.


  Then you get to be on the receiving end of a "This is Sparta!", and you awake inside of the dungeon.


Welcome to the dungeon of Grimrock

This... is... GRIMOCK!


  Once awake you find yourself in a room with no way to go up, it seems that the only way to win your freedom is to go ever downward and find the exit from the dungeons of Grimrock.


  Time is not on your side, your characters will need to find food or they will starve to death. As I said before you start out with no gear, not even clothing. You will find torches along the way as you travel the dungeons hallways, but beware that a torch removed from its sconce will slowly burn out eventually leaving you in darkness.


  Well at least the Mage is armed they have spells right? Well once again kind of, you see Legend of Grimrock uses a runic spell casting system much like the one seen in the old NES game Dungeon Magic. Fortunately it is a simple grid of only nine blocks. However every time you want to cast a spell you will have to select each rune and then click on the casting box.


Magic cellphone keypad

Magic cell phone keypad?


  Each spell in the game has a minimum skill requirement in the appropriate magic skill set, along with this you do not start out knowing any spells. You have to mess around with the runic system and cast away until you find a combination that works. Throughout the dungeon you will find scrolls scattered about that have the correct runes to cast spells upon them. These scrolls can be discarded once found as long as you make a note of the correct combination. Even if you have learned a spell you will always have to put in the correct runic combination to cast it again.


  Another factor that modern gamers may not be used to is Legend of Grimrocks encumbrance system. It is easy to forget that one of your characters is carrying just a little bit too much in the way of equipment, preventing you from running to switches fast enough when the need arrises.


  Everyone in the party gains experience for completing quests and finding secrets. The Fighters gain experience for well fighting, while the Rogue gains experience by fighting from afar with missile weapons, and of course the Mage gains experience for fighting against monsters with magic.


  Movement in Legend of Grimrock is done with either the mouse (clicking on the movement box) or via the WASD and QE buttons. Attacks are made by right clicking over your characters hand or equipped item (Note that the Mage can cast bare handed, or while carrying an orb, wand, or staff).


  The very first room of the dungeon can be your eternal prison, as the gate leading out of the room is locked tight, but if you look around you can find a clue on how to open the gate, along with a secret if you look around closely enough.


  Throughout Grimrock you will find notes and clues left by an adventure named Toorum. Always pay heed to his wise words as they can lead you to vital supply caches and clues on how to solve different puzzles.


Puzzles abound in LoG

Puzzles as far as the eye can see.


  Throughout the different dungeon levels you will find blue crystals, these act as both auto save points and healing/resurrection stations. Unlike most games today, poison and disease are very dangerous. You will want to keep the path back to the blue crystals in mind if you come down with one of these ailments or find the need to resurrect a fallen ally.


  Once you find the mortar and pestle on level two of the dungeon, you will gain access to alchemy. Alchemy allows you to make several potions including ones that will cure disease, poison, and massive damage. However the alchemy system is a lot like the magic system.


  First you will need an empty flask, place this inside of the sub-menu that opens when you click on the mortar and pestle, next you place in one or more reagents and hopefully find the correct combination to make a useful potion.


  The plus side of the alchemy system is that it requires no training and once a potion is drunk you get an empty flask back. Like spell scrolls there are alchemy scrolls scattered around the dungeon with the recipes for various potions.


Big Jim Ogre

Hey it's big Jim Ogre from the Kentucky fried dungeon!


  The dungeons in Legend of Grimrock are always static; you will always find the same item in the same place. Some areas will remain clear of monsters once they are defeated while other areas will have monsters respawning (mark your map when you find a respawn area, as it will be a good place to stock up on food). This limits the replay value of the game slightly, but you will find yourself wanting to rerun the dungeon at a different difficulty level or with a different party make up.


  Once you beat the game there is even a hidden mode if you solved a certain puzzle along the way that allows you to play with a single special character.


  It was nice that Almost Human put in this little secret, I found this little Easter Egg to be on par with the coolness factor of discovering the secret cow level in Diablo II.


  Legend of Grimrock is not without its flaws, the movement system can be very clunky and annoying, especially once you meet the final boss in battle.


Fear me

Run Away!


  The music starts out very strong and then just disappears leaving you with just the ambient sound of the dungeon for a majority of your time exploring.


  Some of the puzzles can be very annoying, even if you know how to solve them, at one point I had to throw something to solve a puzzle, but there are two ways to throw things in the game and only one throwing method was correct for that particular puzzle.


Crab Monster LOG

Dungeoness Crabs?


Final verdict for Legends of Grimrock 8/10 Priced at under $15.00 this game will give you a lot of bang for the buck. If you want to relive old school gaming or just see how hard us old timers had it back in the day (when we crawled through the dungeon uphill both ways), then give Legends of Grimrock a try.




Legends of Grimrock is currently available directly from Almost Human, GoG, or on Steam.



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