Beauty Beheld: Legend Of Grimrock

By Adam Smith on November 28th, 2011 at 3:40 pm.

A game so uncompromisingly purist that even the promotional screenshots involve you being killed by spears

When he first laid eyes on it, grid-based RPG Legend of Grimrock caused John to claw at the screen in a futile attempt to get his hands on it. I’m not sure if he always plays games by plucking them out of his monitor and laying them out on a coffee table but it may be the case. Along with the announcement of a delay until early next year, developers Almost Human send word that the project has reached beta. There’s a new video as well, which manages to excite me by showing inventory management the likes of which it’s all too easy to desire romantic liaisons with. Then there are the puzzles, the pressure plates, the man casually falling into a pit…I AM CLAWING AT THE SCREEN

The only thing about the video that doesn’t make me happy is the lack of variety in the monsters. But snail punching is already confirmed and hopefully there will be plenty of surprises. Some sort of rust monster to destroy all of my precious equipment would cause equal amounts of delight and dismay.

While waiting, let’s not be disappointed about the delay because the reasoning provided is entirely sensible.

…many of you have been asking if we’re on time for launch at the end of this year. Looking at the game we have now we could do it but that wouldn’t be the best game we can deliver. We want to make this game really shine so that’s why we have decided to push the release to early next year. With the extra time we can hopefully fix all the bugs, make the level flow better, tweak item attributes to perfection and adjust the balance to be just right.

As for distribution, Almost Human are understandably keen to have the game on Steam.

…it’s simply the biggest digital distribution service on the PC and we want to make the game available for the largest audience possible. For that to happen we need to pass their evaluation process, so we really hope that the guys at Valve like our game!

It certainly looks like there could be a great deal to like.

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99 Comments »

  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    It all looks very tasty except for the combat. I was thinking “Eye of the Beholder” when the last video was posted here, but now it looks even more twitchy than that. Look at all those mouse movements. I’m hoping for keyboard shortcuts at the very least.

    • Wizardry says:

      But you can conquer your enemies in grid-based tactical combat (1:30)!

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, that combat interface looks like it was designed by/for Korean Starcraft players. I can’t imagine being able to play that in real time.

    • JFS says:

      You’re certainly right, it looks a little impractical, judging from the video.

    • Zyrxil says:

      Completely agree. If you’re reading this, Devs, I’m all over this game if it were turn-based. Real-time is a deal breaker.

    • Vinraith says:

      Yeah, this has been my concern from the outset. I really wish this thing was turn-based.

    • FCA says:

      Please, please, make the combat turn based. Gridbased but not turnbased makes no sense at all to me.
      Or maybe phasebased, anything but this awkward (moving on the grid) “tactical” combat.

      For the rest: I am clawing at my screen right now! How am I typing this? I don’t know, the words just come out.

    • pkt-zer0 says:

      Is the combat basically the same as in Lands of Lore? That wasn’t too bad. Nothing special, either, though.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      Maybe my memory is failing me (it’s been 20 years after all) but the combat doesn’t look any different than in any other Dungeon Master clone (DM, EotB, LoL).

    • vecordae says:

      Watching this video, it’s hard for me to figure out if this is actually twitchy or if it’s a turn-based game being played very quickly. It seems as though the player gets four attacks and the monsters seem to attack at the same rate unless an attack staggers them. Also, movement seems to be one for one. The player never stops, moving or attacking, however, so there’s no way to tell if the action stops. If it is turn-based, then the turns move fluidly from one to the next based on keyboard input, which would be kind of awesome.

      EDIT: No, wait, I’m full of it. There’s a couple of bits where monsters move even though the player isn’t hitting any attack buttons or moving.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Jason Moyer: It is a Dungeon Master clone. And that’s exactly why the combat will most likely be terrible. Dungeon Master clones were more about puzzle solving than combat.

    • kingcanute says:

      I vote top-down or isometric turn-based in this vote that I just made up.

      I have never stopped wanting to play the Gold Box games…

    • nizzie says:

      Actually the real-time combat and grid-movement is what makes Grimrock so interesting. While I enjoy both turn-based and real-time, I want this specific game exactly because of those two features.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      It doesn’t matter if it is turn-based or real-time. BOTH are completely acceptable combat options. In fact, a choice between either would be preferable.

    • Zeewolf says:

      Games like Lands of Lore worked very well with real time combat. They just need to make sure it’s not too fast and twitchy.

    • Howl says:

      Unashamed Dungeon Master clone, which I loved even though you could circle strafe your way to victory. As long as you had 4 squares to move around in freely you were invincible. The final fight with the dragon could be done without even getting hit.

    • Enikuo says:

      I agree that keyboard shortcuts would be nice, but I do like that it’s real time.

    • Urthman says:

      Lands of Lore was much slower-paced. There were significant cool-downs between attacks that made it feel almost turn-based, and you weren’t worrying about trying to strafe and dodge at the same time.

    • Laephis says:

      Devs: I will buy this game as soon as it’s released…as long as it has turn-based combat.

      Everything else looks perfect, why screw it up with real time combat shenanigans?

    • Tuco says:

      I’m all for turn based combat, too.
      Real time combat never worked very well in these games. Not even in the classic “champions” of the genre (Eye of the Beholder, Lands of Lore, etc).

    • Ribonizer says:

      A dozen people all speculating whether it’s turn based or real time and nobody looks at the FAQ which says clearly it’s real time.

    • Michael Hoss says:

      A dozen people all flaming that it should be turn based may don’t understand that the developers are going to create their game as they want it to be like it should be. Those who want a turnbased game, go and create it.

    • jrodman says:

      @Michael Hoss: The above thread is quite plainly not flaming. It is an extended list of people who are all saying they would love a similar game, but that the one they see before them does not look like they would enjoy it. This is simply a list of potential customers who are not going to be customers as-is. It’s pretty crucial feedback for an indie dev.

      They’re free to use that feedback or ignore it. There’s no need to tell them they’re wrong for providing it. That’s silly.

  2. cafe says:

    Dungeons of Dredmore had no variety in the enemies at all and it was great! Can’t wait for this!!!!!

    • d32 says:

      Yeees.. but it was great _despite_ that, not thanks to it. Variety in enemies would make it even more greater!

  3. Optimaximal says:

    I read that as ‘Grimlock’.

    I made a ‘squee’ noise in my head.

    I am now sad…

    • Urthman says:

      I keep seeing the name and and the screenshots and thinking it’s Grimoire — emerging from the mists of legend / vapours of Cleve Blakemore’s promises …

    • Rao Dao Zao says:

      I didn’t realise it *wasn’t* Grimlock until I read this post. :(

    • Eclipse says:

      …always better than Grimcock amirite?

  4. Colonel J says:

    I’m now very interested in this.
    Also, the music in the video sounds just like the Game of Thrones theme tune?

  5. Lobotomist says:

    I want this game so much. Although its pretty much direct competition to the game I am making in my spare time…

    But oh well :]

  6. Wurstwaffel says:

    I don’t see any reason for the awkward grid controls other than nostalgia

    • Wizardry says:

      Awkward? Nostalgia?

    • Jason Moyer says:

      That’s like saying “I don’t see any reason for a game to be 2-D sidescrolling besides NES nostalgia”. With the 50 indie games that have come out every day for the past 5 years, I’m genuinely amazed that no one else has done a Dungeon Master clone before this.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      I agree, it would be nice to have full movement control. But I, personally, do not care if it does or not. Or that the level designs are grid-based. Ultima Underworld 1 and 2 both had a grid-based level design, but you could walk and jump anywhere. It adds a degree of abstract anti-realism to the game that stimulates the imagination.

      Either way, I’m just astonished that people are making first person dungeon crawlers at all.

      Hell, I’ll fall off my chair if I’m given a choice of more than one corridor to walk through. *glares at Bethesda*

    • DrGonzo says:

      Isn’t skyrim one of the biggest games out now and that’s an fps dungeon crawl.

      I’m put off by the grid based nature of it too. Bizarre choice. Its a technical limitation that’s become a genre.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      The only awkward and bizarre choice is that the game is real-time.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Malawi: How is it a bizarre choice when it’s a Dungeon Master clone?

    • Juan Carlo says:

      Grids are fine, provided combat is turn based. But I always thought grid based movement systems (with no diagonal movement) were awkward with real time combat. Especially party based ones. Maybe it will work brilliantly, but I guess I can’t envision it at the moment.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      @Wizardry

      Okay, so it’s not bizarre.

    • Josh W says:

      A clone of bizarity is still bizarre, not sure what it’s for either. Although I’m sure it makes programming the game a lot easier; no physics, no euclid, just state transitions.

  7. pakoito says:

    This game had to be done. Now we only need a meaningful combat system.

  8. Zeewolf says:

    “Some sort of rust monster to destroy all of my precious equipment would cause equal amounts of delight and dismay. ”

    No! No! Oh my god NO!

    • Drake Sigar says:

      How about the monsters which suck entire levels from your party?

    • Zeewolf says:

      Or ones that permanently removes stat points… man, there were some awful monsters in the old RPGs.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Needs more gelatinous cube!

    • NathanH says:

      Words cannot begin to describe how much fun a DM can have with a well-timed gelatinous cube.

  9. Walsh says:

    Can’t… move… diagonally…. argh

  10. HoosTrax says:

    I never thought we’d see games in the style of Might & Magic and Wizardry again, but indie devs prove once again that they’re willing to bring us genres that big name devs think they’re too good for.

    • Wizardry says:

      This isn’t in the style of Wizardry and Might and Magic. It’s in the style of Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Black Crypt, Captive and Lands of Lore.

    • jrodman says:

      The two styles, of course, have some similarity.

  11. Sp4rkR4t says:

    Dammit, now I’ve got scratch marks all over my screen. DO WANT.

  12. Beelzebud says:

    I too am clawing at my screen! I’ve been wanting a game like this for years. For all the newbies saying they don’t like the grid control, and feel it’s too nostalgic: Be happy with the 99.99% of games that are designed for your demographic. It’s okay for a few games to slip through the cracks and not follow modern console game design.

    • Metriculated says:

      Noob comment: Check
      PC elitism: Check

      You, sir, are a model PC warrior and are unmatched in being so. . .

    • Beelzebud says:

      Save it for someone that cares. You guys got the whole first part of the comments to complain about it being to old school looking. Just like the fact that you want every single game to conform to modern console development, you also expect the comments to all agree.

    • kavika says:

      I dunno, sounded like compliments to me :)

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      All the complainy comments were about how the combat is real time rather than turn-based. Which is kind of like complaining about it being old school….except, you know, exactly the opposite.

    • bear912 says:

      I got a few valid points out of that comment, and then things went a bit wonky, I’m afraid. Somewhere in there, you seemed to imply:
      Non-grid-based = console

      wat

  13. Drake Sigar says:

    2:15 you can strafe! What sorcery is this?

    • kavika says:

      Dunno about clones, but you could strafe in DM, so nothing new there.

  14. sonofsanta says:

    oh my god liek dis game wud be so much better on the xbox cos analog stix would let u actually turn oh my god you pc players are so lame with your keyboards lololol do you walk liek that in real life bet u luk liek rite dikeds lurching forward then turning to the side and lurching agen lololol

    [/twattishness]

    Ahem.

    On a more civil note, “Grimrock” is an excellent name, and worthy of any fortress. The only improvement would be Grimdarkrock.

    Strangely my brain sees this as a more accurate representation of Hero Quest than anything Elder Scrolls etc. The grids are so important there that apparently my imagination interprets the whole thing as actually looking like that. Oddly square rooms and all. Lovely.

    The combat does look awkward though.

  15. Jason Moyer says:

    I cannot wait for this. I’ve been wishing Eye of the Beholder would show up on GoG eventually, and having something similar-but-better (tech wise, anyway) would make that wait more tolerable.

    • kingcanute says:

      Pools of Radiance > Eye of the Beholder

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I was too busy with Bard’s Tale and Wizardy to get around to playing the Gold Box games. Don’t hate me. :(

      I would love to see all of the SSI AD&D games up on GoG at some point though, including the Gold Box stuff and Dungeonhack.

    • jrodman says:

      IMO, the gold box are still brilliant but tough to get into nowadays. I find the plotless ones where I don’t have to stay focused for an entire month more fun and more likely to finish ( pool of radiance works better than curse of the azure bonds, for example).

      Meanwhile I don’t think dungeonhack was every very good :-(. Nice idea but getting procedural stuff compelling requires a lot of tweaking. And a lot of tweaking it did not seem to get.

  16. Hoaxfish says:

    Seriously gorgeous looking game… and there’s a healthy amount of monsters in that trailer as far as I’m concerned. It really depends on how long the final game is, and what other non-combat things there are to distract you, when it comes to determining if it’s “enough monsters” in the end.

    • jrodman says:

      I’ve strongly trended over time towards the Crawl school of monster design.

      - Not too many
      - All markedly distinct
      - Each one a deadly threat in some circumstances

      The original Dungeon Master had around 20. Enough to keep you interested, but not enough to become a soup of genericness.

  17. Casimir's Blake says:

    Finally, an RPG that just might have dungeons that require you to make a directional choice and aren’t linear as all buggery. *slaps Bethesda*

    Instant purchase for me, there simply are not enough first person dungeon crawlers like this.

    In the mean time, there’s a pretty good King’s Field-esque first-person hack and slasher called Berserker Quest 6 which is also worth trying. Come on RPS, cover this game!

    • ZephyrSB says:

      *wonders how aware one is of Atlus’s various DS-based efforts such as Dark Spire, Etrian Odyessy and SMT: Strange Journey, not to mention the undying beast that is Wizardry*

      Also impressed that, with all this talk of turn-based combat wants and longing for better dungeons in the past few days, how these titles simply haven’t come up… (yet EDF can!)

  18. felix6 says:

    I actually can’t remember if the old dungeon games(eye of the beholder, black crypt, dungeon master.) was turn based or not, only that I totally freaking loved them. Best games of my youth I think.. Loved them even more than x-com now that I think about it. And to be honest I didn’t realize it until now. Damn, how could I forget these old gems?

    Anyway. I have no clue about where I stand on the turn-based issue, since I don’t remember how the old games worked, but I cross my fingers that the devs got there heads in the game ;) This video actually got me jumping up and down of excitement. The video looked awesome,.

    Someone suggested top-down view…shame on you! I won’t have any of that sort. And stay away from my grid system!

    All I can say to the devs is… take my money!

    • Samuel Hill says:

      Eye of the Beholder at least was real time though the monsters attacked slowly enough that you had time to plan your moves. I think an above poster mentioned phased time. That would seem to be the most accurate description.

      This one sure does look pretty but i’m not that convinced about the UI.

    • felix6 says:

      Yeah I had to watch some youtube clips get my head straight ;)

      I actually thought the UI looked pretty decent. I don’t mind that they minimize it instead of the huge UI you used to have back in the day. The spell casting system looked pretty convenient to.

    • Wizardry says:

      @Samuel Hill: No. Phase-based is what Wizardry, The Bard’s Tale and other clones were.

  19. JackDandy says:

    The new trailer looks positively amazing.
    I love the team’s work ethic- making constant weekly updates, showing off new features, answering questions on their blog, all while keeping a very professional face about it all.

    Can’t wait to try this one out.

  20. Kefren says:

    Real-time grid-based is great, since it is loyal to the originals.

    Visually this reminds me of Wizardry 8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wizardry_8

    I recommend the PC Dungeon Master remakes at http://www.ragingmole.com/RTC/

    I am currently replaying many of this type of game in my Amiga emulator: EotB, DM, Abandoned Places, Black Crypt, Hired Guns, Ishar, Liberation, Xenomorph, Zombi etc.

    I don’t like the way enemies just burst into sparks, even though in the original DM they burst into clouds of grey dust. I have no idea why I find that harder to accept nowadays (perhaps because of the disappointments of Quake 4, Doom 3, and almost every other FPS where bodies just disappear).

    • felix6 says:

      ooh hired guns, that game was soo damn hard. but still damn good :) I hated and loved that game.

    • Kefren says:

      With Hired Guns you just had to think ahead and not panic (if you panic you inevitably fall into a water-filled ditch full of sharks and all your laser weapons corrode).

      I loved this game best as 2 player co-op, each controlling two characters. One of us used a mouse, the other a joystick – surprisingly both control schemes worked well.

      I used to get more immersed in this than any other game, even creating my own stories between the playable characters. The presentation and sound effects were fantastic, and even now I really enjoy playing it.

    • kavika says:

      There’s this meticulous port, too: http://dmweb.free.fr/?q=node/851

      It was reverse engineered by manually inspecting assembly, so should be 100% quirk compatible with the Atari version, yet very PC friendly (unlike things like Amiga emulators).

  21. Demiath says:

    I still want this really bad. And a sequel. And a turn-based spin-off! The mere thought of a turn-based Wizardry-esque RPG filled with overworld locations and dungeons made in this graphics engine almost makes me cry. Where’s the Kickstarter project for such a game, I would spend as much money on that as there are dragons in Skyrim…

  22. Abundant_Suede says:

    I can’t get my hands on this soon enough.

    I do hope for a higher degree of gelatinous cube content, though.

  23. ResonanceCascade says:

    Looks fun, I’ll definitely pick this up. I’m not picky about my dungeon crawlers being turn-based. I just want a nice dungeon to tromp through and stats to control and I’m happy. I can adapt to the mechanics, unless they’re just unfathomably bad.

  24. Vexing Vision says:

    The combat system makes me cringe a bit, like a speeded up Dungeon Master.

    Nevertheless, it looks gorgeous. Where can I preorder? Take my money!

  25. kud13 says:

    this makes me want lands of Lore again.

  26. buzzmong says:

    Goddammit. Dr Who has ruined me.

    I expected the statues in the first minute or so to move.

  27. Zarunil says:

    This game looks incredibly polished and well made. Can’t wait to get my paws on it!

  28. geldonyetich says:

    That is one pretty looking Wizardry. *Notices the combat is real time.* Make that Might and Magic.

    • Wizardry says:

      Might and Magic 1-5 are turn-based. Make that Dungeon Master, which it’s almost an exact clone of.

  29. outoffeelinsobad says:

    For interested old men, there is also a game called Malevolence: The Sword of Ahkranox being developed.

    http://www.msoa-game.com/

  30. hypercrisis says:

    Dare I say thus far the game doesn’t seem to be aiming anywhere near its potential?

    I should hope they take on a constant development cycle with paid for alpha entry.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I think more games should do that, but these guys already announced that it’s officially in beta, there are no open beta tester spots, and the completed game will be released early next year.

    • JackDandy says:

      No thanks. I’ve had enough of indie devs pulling the “Pay us now for a game that MIGHT SOMEDAY be complete. And good. Maybe” trick. I won’t be throwing names around, to avoid pointless arguments.

      I support the devteam’s choice of creating a full, quality game and only then charging for it. That’s how it should be done.

    • hypercrisis says:

      Well its already clearly good, I just think they could do a lot more with it. Hopefully they make expansions.

  31. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Wow. Retro as bro.

  32. stele says:

    They better not release this on the PS3 a week early!!!

  33. jrodman says:

    Combat seems to have an unfortunate combination of the UI being fiddly and it being too fast.

    In Dungeon Master, most of the button hit areas were seperated and discrete, so you could hit the targets pretty easily — they didn’t change out from under the mouse. In this game I see a bewildering array of things appearing in a single box.. weapons, spell elements, and other things. I think misclicks will be common and frustrating.

    Also in dungeon master the pace was much slower. Casting a spell that quickly would be an extremely rare need indeed. In fact most of the ui elements didn’t even react that fast, which was partly machine limitations, partly an attempt at providing good feedback and a sense of effort, and partly game balance. The game was deliberately slowed by stamina limits, click timings, and other factors, such that the kind of click frezy in the above title simply couldn’t happen.

    I’d not mind a turn based game, but a significantly slower realtime one would be fine by me.

  34. UncleLou says:

    Lovely.

    Worth mentioning that they’re also working on an iOS version, which I hope will be identical.

  35. f1x says:

    Lands of Lore return? amazing!

  36. pusheax says:

    Seems like a homage to dungeon master 2. Although the game is dumbed down a little bit – a fewer rune combinations compared to DM2. Almighty fireball spell is revealed in trailer(in DM2 you had to figure these things out by yourself)! One bread replenishes food bar almost completely; absence of water bar. Some mechanics seem to be taken out completely for the sake of simplicity.
    Previous generation of gamers do not care about graphics. It seems that this game is trying to show how amazing dungeon crawlers can be to new generation and probably aiming for xbox port. Well it’s still beta and I cannot judge the game by beta footage of trailer to be fare.
    Must go back to playing .