Wot I Think: Legend Of Grimrock

By John Walker on April 4th, 2012 at 3:30 pm.

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Almost Human’s Legend Of Grimrock comes out a week today. I’ve finished it, and am here to tell you why it’s bloody brilliant. Sometimes that’s just what a review is for. Don’t worry – we’ll remind you next Wednesday that it’s released, as we have more coverage planned. But now, here’s Wot I Think.

The temptation to compare Legend Of Grimrock to Dungeon Master, perhaps just writing a review consisting of two columns of ticks and crosses, is one to be avoided. While the game is inescapably an overt tribute to the 1987 classic, right down to some intricate details, it’s also its own entity, and very interesting in its own ways. Also, that would be somewhat unhelpful to those who never played FTL’s Atari hit.

But boy are they similar.

At the start you can take a pre-packaged set of four characters to play as, or generate your own in a fairly standard RPG style. There are humans, minotaurs, lizardmen and insectoids, each with various stat advantages, and three classes, Rogue, Fighter and Mage. The game’s played from a first-person perspective, but your squad is stood in a 2 by 2 formation, meaning you’re going to want to think about whom you have at the front, and at the back. The front two are going to take the brunt of the attacks, while being able to dish out melee. The back two won’t be able to reach if given a sword or mace, but are ideal for firing off spells or arrows. Get this balance wrong, and I’d imagine you could have a fairly tough time getting deep enough down the mountain in which you’re trapped.

There’s a story here, and while it’s a loose, flappy skeleton, it begins, middles and ends. You’re a group of four prisoners, who find “redemption” at the top of Mount Grimrock. I.e. you’re thrown down a hole at the top, and left to die. The story is: get to the bottom, see if you can escape. There are a couple of twists and turns along the way. But primarily the focus here is on the action and the puzzles, and both are in huge amounts.

Part of the DM feel is movement, restricted to 90 degree turns, and advancing one tile at a time. If you’ve gone back to replay any Dungeon Master-inspired game of the late 80s/early 90s, you’ll likely have noticed how peculiar this can feel when in first-person, leaping a square at a time. But rather impressively, Grimrock manages to give this a pleasing, smooth feel, without compromising on it at all. The beautifully-lit 3D chambers can be traversed reasonably quickly, with repeated taps, gliding pleasingly. Clearly the engine could offer completely free movement without a problem, but that would rather defeat the point. Monsters are restricted to the same, although as with DM move in real-time – there’s nothing turn-based here. Which means combat is a frantic combination of trying to back away down corridors, stumbling to click on the correct runes to launch your next spell, firing off an arrow, while you’re waiting for the cooldown on a figher’s giant axe to be over. And then realising you’ve backed yourself into a dead end, and panicked, throwing your inventory at the enemy while waiting for an attack to become ready.

For the most part, enemies don’t respawn (for the most part), so if you’ve cleared an area it’s often safe. That’s important. You’ll want saferooms to dump heavy items, and most of all, to sleep in. Health can be regained by mixing potions, but the ingredients are incredibly rare for the bulk of the game, and sleep will be your primary means of getting better. But of course sleep near monsters and they’re going to take a chunk out of you to wake you up. The other thing to be concerned about is food, which is again sparingly available. In fact, I’d say they get this perfectly right, making it feel like something you need to be worrying about, without ever making it tiresome. I always had just about enough. They don’t drink, however, which is odd, but preferable.

Each floor of the in-mountain dungeons is packed with puzzles, and often really tough ones. Some are necessary for progress, others reveal bonuses and secrets, and it’s mostly pretty hard to tell which is which until you find a new flight of stairs. Although the rule tends to be, the very toughest puzzles will be for extras, and can generally be walked past. But you shouldn’t, because that’s silly. You want cool goodies, right? Then solve!

They’re again inspired by Dungeon Master’s nature, most often involving teleporters. But this where the game really gets into its own, going far further with this concept, creating puzzles reminiscent more of Portal than Eye Of The Beholder. You’ll have to start thinking with teleporters if you’re going to figure a lot of them out. They’re inventive, and they’re often tough. In fact, in reviewing the game weeks before it’s released, and thus lacking the option of spying a walkthrough or asking a chum for a hint, I’ve developed an amazing technique for solving the hardest elements. What you do is write an email to the developers saying, “I am completely stuck, and have no idea how to get past this.” Click “send” and at that exact moment you’ll notice what you were missing. It works without fail.

The combat’s really tough too, with monsters able to kill you in a few swipes from very early on. That’s nothing Dungeon Master didn’t do, but gosh it’s a bit of a surprise to have a game be so mean to you so early on. A great surprise, I should say – wow, games are too easy now, aren’t they? You not only have to develop your own techniques for avoiding attacks, but also discover the most judicious application of your gang’s collection of skills. And you’re going to want to make sure you have a mage who’s learning poison shields. Trust me.

One rather peculiar mistake the game makes is to fail to give you one rather crucial piece of information early on. If a member of your party dies, as far as you’ll know for about the first three quarters of the game, it’s game over really. You’ll not last long with three, and unlike DM there’s no introduction of wall alcoves that have the mysterious ability to bring people back to life. So you have to reload. Except, well, you don’t – there’s something else you could be doing, and it doesn’t tell you that. I wish I’d known, and I wish that method were a little more commonplace in the early levels, as I think I would have approached the game very differently. As it was I was making ludicrously frequent use of the saves (maddeningly it doesn’t have a quicksave button, despite it always being possible via the menu), when I could have added to my challenge by struggling with three until the next chance to revive. Oddly, that’s a big motivation to replay it, this time with that extra difficulty.

However, you do get lots of other pieces of information, thanks to the notes left behind by a guy called Toorum, who realises he’s not the first adventurer to be stuck down there, and won’t be the last, so offers help to whoever comes after him. He partly fills in the story, and partly drops some handy tips for better enjoying things. And he has a few nice arch remarks about how odd it is that all the puzzles were reset by the time he reached them, if people had been through before.

(Actually, while that commentary is nice, and offers an explanation, the game does at one late point perhaps wander a bit too far into self-indulgence, with an entire section called The Tomb Of Designers, even featuring the four-man team’s own names. That said, it also has one of my favourite puzzles in the game. And it comes right before the game’s cleverest comment on itself at the very end.)

The other issue I’d cite is perhaps a little bit too much reliance on the need to find tiny hidden switches in walls for progress. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not INSANE. Hunting walls for tiny hidden switches is exactly what the game should be offering, but for secrets. Not knowing why you can’t get any further in a level because you missed one can occasionally grate.

But overwhelmingly it’s a superb experience, characters levelling up at a perfect rate, agonising choices about which skill to improve becoming like knife wounds when you struggle to find the right type of weapon – the game is so cleverly sparing in its distribution of everything, so something as simple as finding a mace can feel like a mad victory. And talking of which, there are few games where I’ve felt so elated at figuring out a puzzle that I’ve punched my arms in the air and declared to the house, “I’m so brilliant at games!” Along with all this, it does a splendid job of creating a creepy atmosphere, and a deep sense of weirdness. Also, it understands the need to carry skulls.

There’s more peculiarity arriving in your sleep, but I’ll let you discover that. In fact, please discover it. This is a really splendid game. It’s a great length, I’d guess at least 15 hours, and completely packed with challenges. There may only be three tile sets for the environments, but it feels constantly varied and interesting, and as I’ve said, offers a really entertainingly tough time. Also, it features the scariest bloody crabs I’ve ever seen in my phobic life, along with spiders, giants, and snails. Yes, snails.

The difficulty I mentioned can be enormously increased by invoking the game’s “Old School Mode” where it will stop auto-mapping for you, meaning you need to dig out/print some squared paper, and meticulously sketch out every level if you’re to have a clue where you’re going. I didn’t dare do this, possessing the navigation skills of a dizzy set of keys, and also relied on the in-game maps’ option to let you add notes.

Does it directly compare to Dungeon Master, living up to those memories? Do you know, I’ve no idea. I played it when I was 10. But independently of its obvious spiritual father, it stands alone as a really great game that gripped me from top to bottom.

Legend Of Grimrock will be out on GOG.com, Steam, and via the developer’s own site on the 11th April, and can be pre-ordered directly, or via GOG, now.

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190 Comments »

  1. Khemm says:

    I’m so excited for this, already pre-ordered.
    I hope it’ll prove to be successful enough for them to warrant a sequel, maybe even something else, something pretty abitious, like a spiritual successor to Wizardry 8 – Turn Based combat and a big world full of possibilities.

    • RaytraceRat says:

      Same here. I just hope I will have less work when it comes out :)

    • OJSlaughter says:

      I have pre-ordered too! For anyone who doesn’t know, it is a few dollars cheaper if you pre-order (you also get a copy of the manual and the OST).

      Buying it for their site gets you a DRM-free version, as well as a steam key.

    • Okami says:

      I’d prefer a spiritual successor to Wizardry 7, to be honest.

      • Wizardry says:

        Yeah, same. Though I’d like it to use some of the ideas from Wizardry 8, I’d definitely want it to keep the tile-based movement of the first seven games.

        • Khemm says:

          Now that I think about it, that would actually be perfect for them, not only would it be easier for them to build the game world, they also wouldn’t have to re-write their engine too much.
          Still, I mentioned Wiz 8, because it’s my absolute favourite in the series. 7 is a close second.

      • figvam says:

        Yep, and the ability to switch classes – this terrific feature was for some reason dropped in Wizardry 8.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      Both grid-based and free movement have their place. Either would be nice. I would like to see the LOGR team move into a more open, Ultima Underworld-esque crawler for their next game. (Hell, I’d love to work on such a game myself, or in a team…)

      Let’s appreciate the old school AND the advancements of more modern gaming, please, people. There’s nothing wrong with free movement, and it is an equally feasible movement scheme in a dungeon crawler as grid-based.

      But random battles, THEY I abhor and cannot be bothered to live with in a game. Very pleased to see those are not present in LOGR.

      Excellent write-up, too, btw. Well and truly pre-ordered. My GF won’t see me for a week…

      • Wizardry says:

        Why should they? Leave the single character free movement stuff to the bigger budget wider appeal games like The Elder Scrolls and Risen. Why should a small independent developer copy them?

        Plus, random battles are great. You can tie them in to RPG mechanics far better than hand placed battles.

        • rivalin says:

          Do you have turn-based sex?

        • Kenseu says:

          So… not to pick a fight above my weight class, but I fail to see the connection between developer size and something as (relatively) simple as free movement .

          • Wizardry says:

            When you’ve got free movement you have to spend ages perfecting the feeling of action based combat. You need to give weapons proper weight, you have to nail the blocking and dodging speeds, you have to nail weapon ranges and the overall combat smoothness. It’s not as easy as working in tiles where everything is based on whether something is in a particular tile at a particular time or not. Reactive animation plays a huge part in true non-grid based action games as the spatial abstraction wall disappears.

            People will be moaning if combat isn’t like Dark Messiah. See Oblivion and Skyrim for details.

  2. Harlander says:

    Grimrock manages to give this a morning, smooth feel

    Huh?

    Also, I think I might be in the smaller group who, when asked, “Don’t you think games are too easy these days?” says “What? No. Oh, no. Hell no.”

    Any chance of a demo?

    • John Walker says:

      That is SO weird. In my original document too. I’m morning my mind.

      • Gormongous says:

        I assumed it was morning-ready, as opposed to afternoon-bored or the dreaded evening-tired.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Easy. Like a sunday morning.

    • Tuco says:

      But they are.

      • Harlander says:

        I don’t agree, though I’ll grant you that it’s largely because I’m not very good at games.

      • noom says:

        Games aren’t too easy. Quicksaving has just eliminated any of the consequences of failure. This is why quicksaving needs to foad.

        • InternetBatman says:

          Quicksaving is one of the greater innovations in gaming. There’s no point in redoing a part of a game if you’ve already done it well. Most of the games that lack quicksaving live by a false code of difficulty that is based off repetition instead of actual difficulty. Repeating something you can already do isn’t difficult, it’s annoying.

    • alms says:

      >“Don’t you think games are too easy these days?” says “What? No. Oh, no. Hell no.”
      >Any chance of a demo?”

      This ! I’m not really sold on real time combat…

      • mckertis says:

        Watch the video from that cookie guy.

        • Harlander says:

          I would, but I really can’t stand TotalBiscuit’s style…

          • LTK says:

            Then mute the video.

          • bfandreas says:

            He missed a couple of blatantly obvious in your face hidden switches.

            The confused review made me so happy I could have licked the screen. And the guy. If he had been there. A couple of thousand YouTubers licking his rosy cheeks is a distinct possibility once you think about it.

            His WTF format made me empty my wallet on several occasions. I still owe him a beer for shoving Bastion into my face. And RPS, too. You’ve got to hand it to this guy, he knows what he is doing. He’s wrong most of the time but he knows what he is doing.

      • cryocore says:

        Wut? Wot? What? It worked perfectly for Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, Lands of Lore, Anvil of Dawn, Skullkeep, etc. If you dont know the genre please dont question its core mechanics.

        • mckertis says:

          It didnt work “perfectly”, it worked well enough, but it would have been even better with turn-based.

          • Casimir's Blake says:

            “…better with turn based [combat]” is simply utter bollocks. It won’t be better or worse, only DIFFERENT.

            Combat in LOGR looks like a frantic click-fest, sure, but it seems absolutely successful at imparting a sense of urgency in the player. Turn-based combat wouldn’t necessarily have made the game any better or worse: just slower.

            (Disclaimer: My experience of the game is based entirely on spending far too much time re-watching Total Biscuit’s video. I have never been chomping at the bit so much for a game.)

      • Wreckdum says:

        I know right… Dungeon Master had real time combat… Why would they change it in a game that is paying tribute to a classic? Herpa derp.

    • jrodman says:

      FWIW, I seem to recall there being plans for a demo. But as is typical, they wanted to finish the game first.

      I’m not a games project planner but this demo-later thing seems common, if tiresome.

  3. Merus says:

    “One rather peculiar mistake the game makes is to fail to give you one rather crucial piece of information early on. If a member of your party dies, as far as you’ll know for about the first three quarters of the game, it’s game over really. You’ll not last long with three, and unlike DM there’s no introduction of wall alcoves that have the mysterious ability to bring people back to life. So you have to reload. Except, well, you don’t – there’s something else you could be doing, and it doesn’t tell you that.”

    This would have been very helpful to know if you’d actually mentioned what it was you should do instead of reloading, Mr. Walker.

    • John Walker says:

      But would it?

      Maybe the game is designed to be that way, and saying what I learned a couple of hours from the end would be a horrible spoiler?

      • Stevostin says:

        So what you say is that finding what to do when loosing a corpse is an interesting riddle in itself that we should play with ? Or that we should cope like you did with save & load ?

        • SanguineAngel says:

          I think he implies that it is worth struggling on with the cumbersome corpse until the Light is revealed unto you.

          • Grape says:

            I strongly disagree.

            Couldn’t Walker be so kind as to leave a reply here in the comments, explaining what to do? If he’s so terribly concerned that clarifying a fundamental, incredibly important part of the very, very core gameplay would be constituting a massive, game-destroying spoiler, can’t he simply have a giant “SPOILER”-sign over the post?

            Please?

          • Grape says:

            SPOILER ALERT!

            I just checked an online review, and apparently, many levels have something called “Resurrection Stones” which resurrects dead party members, heals you and saves your progress.

            SPOILERS DONE!

            There you have it, then. Honestly doesn’t sound like something that is particularly easy to miss, but what do I know?

      • Lycan says:

        Ah, I see now what you mean Mr. Walker. Though I’m only on Level 2 of the dungeon and had to resort to this method because I lost 2 characters while faffing about with the inventory in a safe room (or what I thought was a safe room at the time). Must remember this game is real-time and doesn’t pause when you are looking at your inventory!

        I have to admit, though, the method seemed intuitive enough – at least to me. But that’s perhaps because it relies on a principle I use in real life as well :P

    • JFS says:

      The manual (comes with a preorder) states that there are possibilities of resurrection. It doesn’t, however, tell which ones. Mr Walker, you should have read it before playing, this is an oldschool game! ;)

  4. Vinraith says:

    Sounds outstanding. I’m on a game purchase break at the moment, but the moment I’m off this one is on the “must buy” list.

    • Stephen Roberts says:

      My Game purchase breaks are a bit like the fast I break each morning. Which means I’ll be getting this despite having eight billion games to play.

  5. Gilead says:

    When I saw the article title I thought to myself, ‘I hope I can rationalise the negative points made if this turns out to be quite a scathing Wot I Think, l because I’ve already pre-ordered the game and I don’t want to feel silly’.

    Fortunately it sounds pretty good overall, and I’m very much looking forward to fighting at least one giant crab.

  6. briktal says:

    I hope there’s a demo because I’m not really sure if I’d like this style of game. I know there are older games like it, but it can be hard to get into those these days and that makes it difficult to tell if the issues are the oldness or the genre.

  7. Stevostin says:

    What no Steam ? If no Steam, then developper’s site will be my shop of choice. Please sir take my whole money.

    • Gilead says:

      Steam has a store page for it but doesn’t allow you to buy it there yet.

      Developers’ site is best for pre-ordering, though. Gives you the same DRM-free download that’ll be on GoG, except using a Humble Bundle link page, and also gives you a Steam key you can redeem instantly.

      • TormDK says:

        Thats odd, because I preordered it on Stream already.

        Prehaps it some UK thing?

        *EDIT* Oh wait, I did do the humble bundle thing, so I bought it directly from the devs rather than let someone get 30%

    • Caiman says:

      Buy from the devs is the way to go. First you get a DRM-free copy, second you get a Steam key, and third the devs get the biggest cut. It’s win-win-win. Do it now and get it even cheaper with some free goodies.

      • Caiman says:

        That’s what I get for leaving the tab open for 20 minutes before replying.

      • sneetch says:

        I would assume they get the biggest cut if you buy from them (I just did for that reason) but have they actually said that? I’d hate to find out that they had to cut in the humble bundle people and Steam and ended up getting less than if I’d bought from GOG or Steam.

  8. mmalove says:

    At the mention of old school mode, I reminisce of playing dragon warrior 2, the cave connecting to the final plateau was 1. Dark, so you could only see a tile or two in front of you, and 2. Full of pit traps, that would force you to retrace your steps.

    It was one of the first games where I actually took up some graph paper and painfully scribbled a map, one by one identifying while tiles were hidden pits, occasionally getting one wrong due to my own bad mapping made worse by the limited vision. There were many trips back to town, as there was no way to recover mana short of falling back, so each expedition to the cave was not just for xp and gold, but precious map. The exploration of the cave itself was a challenge and thus its completion a reward.

    I don’t know if I still have the patience for it. Back then a new RPG was a real treat: they might come years apart, and so you expected to spend many, many hours playing them. Now, a new one goes on sale on steam or other platforms every day.

  9. Gira says:

    there’s nothing turn-based here

    Which is a shame. Real-time party-based dungeon crawlers were annoying in 1987, and they’re annoying now. Also, who says turn-based games can’t be frantic?

    • dreadpirateryu says:

      You might enjoy this game then. Even if it isn’t for PC. Sketching your own map is part of the game though, there isn’t really an auto-map option. It’s also tough as nails, and will not hesitate to eviscerate you in the most painful ways possible at every single opportunity. Beware the Poison Moths. (and there are also at least 2 sequels, with a 3rd in the making I believe, all hard, all refining the concept and gameplay even further, and with more and varied interesting classes to choose)

      • malkav11 says:

        He might, if it weren’t out of print along with its sequels.

    • Demiath says:

      Then you might like Darklight Dungeon and Darklight Dungeon Eternity slightly better. They are sadly not party-based as Grimrock and nowhere near as good-looking, but when it comes to delivering tense turn-based combat and exploration that series definitely has a lot to offer…

      As for Grimrock itself, I’m really excited and can’t wait for Tuesday. As much as I fancy a good old dungeon crawl, though, what I’d want Almost Human to do next is a bigger, more open world-esque game (or at least something approaching Dungeon Master 2) in the same engine, with many different types of dungeons and towns and wilderness inbetween etc. Oh, and developing a turn-based system would of course be awesome but I don’t know if that’s even their thing so I would settle for a Torchlight II-esque philosophy of “more of the same, except bigger”.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      “Which is a shame. Real-time party-based dungeon crawlers were annoying in 1987, and they’re annoying now. Also, who says turn-based games can’t be frantic?”

      …annoying TO YOU, and not necessarily everyone else playing dungeon crawlers. Personally I’m very glad it has seemingly frantic, intense real-time combat. Looks exciting!

      • Gira says:

        Hi, friend! I would just like to congratulate you on successfully identifying an opinion as an opinion. You will receive your commemorative pewter statuette in the mail once you have forwarded a valid address. (PO boxes not accepted.)

  10. Bluerps says:

    I hope I find the time to play this…

    Regarding the old-school mode: I don’t understand why people would do this. I have drawn maps for games on paper, but I always wished that I didn’t have to.

  11. Runs With Foxes says:

    Can you romance the crabs?

    • Gira says:

      Only if they’re wearing cat backpacks. Gaming needs more mature romantic emotional cinematic dialogue with crabs in cat backpacks.

    • McDan says:

      I hope so, I want them all to myself. I’m shellfish like that.

      • Gira says:

        Puns. Neat. Now all you need is a “shut up and take my money” post and Walker appending “ddlywinks” to something and the RPS comment cycle will be complete.

        • lasikbear says:

          Someone’s a bit crabby.

          • Eddy9000 says:

            Don’t mind him, he’s always ‘giving it all that’ (/opens and shuts hands in amusing visual pun on the similarity between the western hand signal for gobbiness and the action of a crabs claws)

          • Jeremy says:

            Careful, he seems a bit sensitive. He might try and brachyura face.

        • dysphemism says:

          Who died and made you Alaskan king of the comment boards?
          (Eh? EH? No, sorry, I’m no good at this.)

        • Grape says:

          I completely agree with Gira. Urgh.

      • Skabooga says:

        Claw’s fair in love and RPS comments.

        • Blackcompany says:

          Was going for a pun, but I seafood and its lunch time. Have to be shore I eat.

      • Zanzanar says:

        Pun threads like this give me Cancer.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      I’m more interested in how this game tackles the important issues of guilt and atonement.

      “But primarily the focus here is on the action and the puzzles, and both are in huge amounts.”

      Huh, it doesn’t, apparently. Pass. Now, where’s my CoD.

      • Gira says:

        Now, now, DMA, let’s not be hasty – there are probably heaps of emotional cutscenes where the cinematic gay protagonists discuss the impact of reality television on society. Walker just doesn’t want to spoil them for us!

      • Gilead says:

        This game clearly deals with the issue of rehabilitation versus retribution in the prison system.

        Is it appropriate in this increasingly globalised 21st century world to treat prisoners as people whose anti-social behavioural elements can potentially be curtailed via the use of further education, training and counselling?

        Is it not, the game perhaps argues, much better to throw them into a terrifying dungeon filled with hostile crustaceans?

        These are important issues and I for one am glad there is finally a title out there willing to take a stance on the subject.

        • dysphemism says:

          Once again, it’s the indie devs willing to tackle Big Ideas.
          I look forward to the day that EA has the courage to speak honestly about gender issues in the context of monstrous, subterranean snails.

  12. JackDandy says:

    Sounds awesome.

    Why’d you spoil the “Designer’s Tomb” thing, though? :\

    • John Walker says:

      I told you the name of one of the game’s many, many tombs. I’m not sure that’s going to take a big dent out of your experience.

      • JackDandy says:

        Regardless, it’s an easter-egg, and it’s one of the things in games I’d rather discover myself then let some review do so for me.

        • Jams O'Donnell says:

          This is what I get for trying to avoid spoilers in the review, eh? Spoilers in the comments!

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          On the other hand, I’d prefer that game reviews are not shrouded in utter mystery.

          Hmm, what to do..?

        • PodX140 says:

          Not actually an easter egg, or a spoiler. It’s not what you think it is.

  13. Scrofa says:

    I wonder if it’s friendly to low-end PC’s (my laptop has GeForce 310M as a videocard), because it looks kinda post-processing and shaders-heavy on the screenshots.

  14. diebroken says:

    Preordered from the developers directly and then activated via Steam, nice and simple. Can’t wait to play it, wow – I’m actually excited about playing a game again! :D

    Just enough time to play through Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos…

    Edit: anyone know how well the game plays using 3D vision? I need more coffee.

    • bfandreas says:

      Don’t scratch that question. It is of great interest to me. I might have missed it since I tried not to read the article due to spoilers.
      EDIT:
      Ok, I just checked with the tech demo test thing that’s been floating on their forums.

      Creature shadows are fine. Self shadows(bits of a wall casting a shadow on itself) are off. Those seem to be prerendered. And prerendered wrong. Also the menu seems to be at the wrong depth. It doesn’t look like R’lyeh but a bit off.

      Now mind, this is an older build so there is some hope. Quite often you can get decent 3dVision out of games that don’t actually render their stuff correctly. Amalur for instance was easily fixable with a DirectX wrapper that forced its hand at shadow and highlighting placement. Which shows how shoddy sometimes games are done. As long as we don’t get elongated fingers and boobs(distinctly green, as a matter of fact) as in The Witcher 1 most things are salvageable.

      • diebroken says:

        Thanks for providing some info. I had a quick search of the LoG blogs/comments and couldn’t really find anything about the game with 3D vision – I’ll definitely give it a go anyway, who knows maybe someone will mod the game further. Just imagine the pics of the enemy soldiers with spears actually trying to stab at your party in 3D – arghhh not the eyes! XD

  15. Reinhardt says:

    Already preordered! Very excited.

  16. mckertis says:

    Monsters are beautiful, but i suspect that i will get alot more satisfaction from my current playthrough of Etrian 3, since everyone knows that oldschool, discreet movement, dungeoncrawlers are best with turn-based combat.

  17. Chmilz says:

    Preordered on GOG.

  18. DrGonzo says:

    While I did like old RPGs like this back in the day, my favourite being Shining in the Darkness, I don’t understand the appeal of going back to it now. The only thing I now miss from old RPGs was the writing, but generally the games were very ‘gamey’, you are fighting a bunch of stats which I find pulls me right out of the world.

    Planescape re-imagined as an adventure, now that I’d be all over.

    • Doesn'tmeananything says:

      No.

    • Gira says:

      Man don’t you hate it when games are “gamey”? Gaming has grown up. It’s about telling an immersive story in an emotional world cinematically now, isn’t it? Why can’t these silly developers just realise this? We don’t want to play games any more or interact with them systemically – we want to watch them emotionally unfold!

    • Wizardry says:

      Old RPGs? Writing? What writing?

      • bfandreas says:

        Writing like in the end of EOB1 in the PC version.

        “I slaughtered Xanathar and all I got was this lousy textbox”.
        And C:\

        Even Ultima 4 onwards that had tons of text played the story mostly in your mind. There is a reason why Planescape: Torment does stand out like this.

  19. webwielder says:

    So is it sad that we are hailing a game that essentially recreates another game that is 25 years old? Which games get a pass and which do we criticize for not advancing the medium? Does a game get bonus points for reminding a player of their childhood?

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      If this were the third or fourth Dungeon Master clone released this year, you wouldn’t be hearing the praise.

      What’s sad is that certain kinds of perfectly valid sub-genres dried up and blew away because of publisher disinterest, and are only now starting to reappear.

    • Mordsung says:

      When no game has come out in that genre for a long time, we can give a pass to a “redo”.

      When a game comes out in a genre full of innovation and regresses that genre 10 years (Glaring in SC2′s general direction) that’s not acceptable.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      “Which games get a pass and which do we criticize for not advancing the medium?”

      The ones that are enjoyable, and the ones that aren’t, duh.

    • Dervish says:

      Forget advancing the medium, what about advancing this particular type of game? Shouldn’t the prime criterion here be how it stacks up against the older titles, considering the whole point of the nostalgia trip is the supposedly-interesting mechanics of that old style? I haven’t played this game or any of the past greats from its genre, but if it doesn’t actually improve on the old games in significant ways other than graphically, what’s everyone excited about?

      • Wizardry says:

        I think it’s more the case that most gamers won’t touch DOS games nowadays, and gamers who loved and played similar games in the early 90s want more of the same.

        • bfandreas says:

          And it is helped by the fact that this game exactly looks like EOB did…in our minds.

          While the old grid based dungeon stompers were born out of technical limitation a quite unique gameplay had emerged. If I recall correctly Lands of Lore was released after the likes of UW2, Shadow Caster and their like who quite easily did their 3D thing.

          MY first maze game was all lines and CGA and didn’t even have monsters in it. I asked my dad how to program an exploration algorithm for it. Which was quite a bit of fun, really. We were so poor we couldn’t even afford monsters for our dungeon. Not even imps.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      For goodness sakes go and troll elsewhere. A lot of people are very excited by the prospect of a modernised dungeon crawler (and I’m one of them), and your post is neither helpful nor encouraging.

      Now, I just hope Almost Human take on Ultima Underworld in the same way they’ve made a “homage” to Dungeon Master…

  20. LTK says:

    Preordered from the devs after TotalBiscuit had his say. Never played DM or Eye of the Beholder, but this looks like a big adventure and tons of fun.

    • bfandreas says:

      If the cookie monster(or in this case the fish) was the first to tell you then you haven’t paid attention for quite some time. But you are forgiven since your error has been readjusted. No harm done. Another soul saved by top hat.
      I have this on preorder since RPS reported on the GOG renaming and had a screenshot of the new website. There it said the words “Grimrock … preorder” and within 5 seconds it was just that. The previous months had been spent on youtube desperately clawing the screen.

  21. Bhazor says:

    Sketching your own map? Fuckin’ sold.

  22. adonf says:

    “you need to dig out/print some squared paper”

    I was under the impression that everyone had a notebook at their desk but apparently I was wrong. What do you guys use for taking down notes or doodling?

    • gschmidl says:

      Microsoft Paint, of course.

    • briktal says:

      IRC

    • LTK says:

      An e-reader.

    • Flint says:

      Post-it notes. The messy bane and unofficial tablecloth of my PC desk.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Text document. Its disturbing the amount of valuable information I store on those.

    • adonf says:

      Hehe, that’s what I get for still living in the 20th century!

      Also it seems that notebooks with squared paper are not a universal thing. Google Imageing ‘notebook paper’ returned page after page of, err, pages printed with lines only. You can’t get those here, only squared or blank paper. Yay, I learnt something today!

      • equatorian says:

        I google imaged ‘graph notebook paper’ and it comes out fine, beautiful squares and all. Perhaps you have erred in the ways of your Google-fu.

    • Bluerps says:

      I have a huge stack of printouts that I don’t need anymore (mostly drafts of unfinished stuff) and that have completely blank flipsides.

      • Skabooga says:

        I do that too! I even sink to scavenging them from the recycle bins like a raccoon.

    • ThinkAndGrowWitcher says:

      Use the heavily amassed dust, Etch-a-Sketch style.

      • bfandreas says:

        Those nowadays are called fondleslabs.

        In fact, I’ll head over to the app shop thingie if there actually is an app for self mapping EOB1+2. If not I might have to complain about bad advertising since this is a blatant omission.

  23. Eukatheude says:

    Do the graphics feel odd to anyone else? I’ve only seen the screenshots here on rps, but the one with the crab thing looks really weird to me.

    • Brun says:

      I noticed this as well but I can’t quite put my finger on what makes the visuals so…strange to me.

      I think part of it might be the tight-corridor design of the levels which (and I’m shocked to find myself saying this) is actually sort of rare for games made in the past decade. Sure there are plenty of corridor games, but their corridors are usually dressed up to the point where they don’t look like two walls, a ceiling, and a floor. To have those high-poly enemies thrown into a rather Doom/Wolfenstein-esque level design like that is a jarring juxtaposition.

      • Wizardry says:

        It’s the best and easiest thing to do when you have grid-based movement. Why bother having bends and slopes down corridors when you move tile by tile? It’s technically possible to do of course, by breaking up each level into quadrilateral instead of squares, but it makes both the programming and level design needlessly more complex, as well as asset creation to get pieces to fit together.

  24. Colthor says:

    Ooh! Pre-ordered.

    I really shouldn’t be playing games at the moment (or doing just about anything else, especially with a computer), but sod it.

  25. catch22.ian says:

    If you pre-order – Which I did – they give you a bunch of files including a pdf of squared paper.

  26. Dominic White says:

    I’ve got a review copy of this too – not anywhere near the end, but I can echo most of Mr Walkers comments. Although I managed to figure out how to revive party members about five minutes into the second floor.

    Anyway, if this game is a love letter to Dungeon Master, then Dungeon Master needs to get a restraining order, because Legend of Grimrock copies it’s handwriting, recites exactly what DM’s daily routine was, adds ‘I know what you did last summer’, and then proposes wearing DM’s skin so that it can be closer to it.

    And y’know what? That’s fine. Terrifying stalker metaphor aside, I mean. It’s basically a remake in all but name, and it works great.

    • Blackcompany says:

      That is, simultaneously, both a very informative comment and a sickeningly disturbing metaphor. So…thanks for that info. Handy to know.

      Also, congrats on your delivery. Its an attention getter, it is.

  27. Blackcompany says:

    I have mixed feelings about this game. On the one hand, I think I will miss the ability to navigate the dungeon freely, using normal movement. Just seems odd to lock a player into the 90-degree stuff in this day and age. In 1987 90-degree turns were a technical limitation; now its called a feature? Puzzling.

    On the other hand, the forced 90-degree turning and tile based movement seems to make things more tactical. Strategy becomes essential to survival – something real time combat normally struggles to produce. Most games with real time combat are simply a matter of ‘mash the dodge button to escape’ and even the Witcher 2 suffered a little from this. Skyrim tried getting it right and almost got there. So the tiled movement and 90-degree stuff might also be a good thing in this game.

    Still on the fence. Struggle with the idea of such limited movement with real time combat. I truly think turn based combat might have improved this game. Still, its innovative, different and challenging.

    “the game is so cleverly sparing in its distribution of everything, so something as simple as finding a mace can feel like a mad victory.”

    Why can more games not think like this? I like loot, but I don’t like to swim in it. I want to play the struggling hero who fights to survive against all odds in a dangerous world, not scrooge macduck with a sword. Perhaps I will give this game a try after all.

  28. Arglebargle says:

    Man, just the kind of game I didn’t like back then, and probably wouldn’t like now. Too much hair shirt. Sounds great for those who do appreciate this particular form though.

  29. LintMan says:

    I never played Dungeon Master, but I thought that game involved you creating the dungeon and laying out the traps and monsters. How is that like this game, which sounds like a party-based dungeon romp? From the description, it seems like this game is more similar to the original Bard’s Tale or Eye of the Beholder.

    • JackDandy says:

      You’re thinking about Dungeon KEEPER.

      • deke913 says:

        Yes, Dungeon KEEPER is a different genre entirely. Eye of the Beholder is quite similar however.

      • LintMan says:

        Ahh, OK. Some googling reveals Dungeon Master never made it onto the Commodore-64 or PC (my two platforms of that era), so I completely missed it. Thanks!

  30. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I wish they’d made some kind of “draw your own map” tool in the game, like the Etrian Odyssey games. I like the idea of having to do that, but my desk is enough of a bombsite as it is without having to keep track of a piece of paper and a pen that I actually NEED.

    • jrodman says:

      OOO.

      If they would make a nice mapping program, I would buy it for 50 dollars to more pleasantly play old RPGS!

  31. Triangulon says:

    Preordered from devs. However, I am still constantly disappionted that this game didn’t turn out to be Legend of Grimlock.

  32. stretchpuppy says:

    Great review… pre-ordered!

  33. Duckee says:

    Is there a good reason to replay this? Also are the dungeons randomized at all or will they always have the same layout?

    • Dominic White says:

      The dungeon is a fixed layout, but there’s a variety of difficulty settings, and party composition changes gameplay a lot.

      They’re also releasing a level editor at some point – when you start a new game, it lets you pick from the original campaign or user-made ones. Currently, there’s only just the regular dungeon.

    • bfandreas says:

      I’ve replayed the original Eye of the Beholder a couple of times. You miss quite a lot during your first playthrough in that type of game(or possibly not due to the auto mapper) and party layout has a huge impact on how they play. So even without random dungeon there is quite some replay value here.
      Also it seems like there are more dungeons and possibly user generated content(one hopes) in store for us. Otherwise that dungeon chooser thing at the start of the game would make very little sense.

  34. deke913 says:

    Thank you, Mr. Walker. This review sealed the deal for me. $11.99 US is a phenomenal price for such great looking game.

  35. dangel says:

    Thanks for this – on the strength of that plus reading their site I’ve preordered from the devs – great that you get a steam key too :)

    Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder, ah so much fun back in the day!

  36. Maxheadroom says:

    I like reading the comments over on Gametrailers for this.

    As there’s milk in my fridge older than most of the posters on that site and they’re completely clueless of the style of gameplay it’s paying homage to.

    makes me lol anyway

  37. Post-Internet Syndrome says:

    Preordered and not regretting it yet. Considering whether to use automapping or not. Mapping by hand has a certain charm but I have a feeling it might get tedious after a while. It’s an itch that I want to scratch though. Haven’t drawn stuff for games since Riven.

  38. The Sombrero Kid says:

    This is one of those games that I can’t quite figure out why it exists, it’s like doom never happened?

    • Dominic White says:

      You make it sound like you couldn’t make a modern-day Wolfenstein-esque shooter that’s actually fun…

      http://www.retroblazer.com/

      You need to play that now, or report to the gulags.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      The fact that this style of game was partially created due to to technical contraints doesn’t make it any less fun. 3D platformers didn’t make 2D ones obsolete, and the same is true here.

      • Brun says:

        I thought the general consensus was that 3D platforming wasn’t very fun. I think the proper 3D analogy to a 2D plaformer would be a parkour-based game like Assassin’s Creed.

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          That doesn’t really have anything to do with my point, but Mario 64 and Mario Galaxy say hi.

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        I’m definitely intrigued by it i just remember the jittering between frames in those games as being a really annoying fact of life rather than something to emulate, especially when something a bit more organic would be pretty trivial for these devs to implement.

        • TillEulenspiegel says:

          It’s not at all trivial. Allowing you to move freely rather than in a grid completely changes combat.

          It’s a specific design choice with gameplay consequences, not just another variant of hip 8-bit retro crap.

        • ffordesoon says:

          It moves smoothly from one tile to the next, FYI. So there’s no jittering.

    • Wizardry says:

      I think you mean “Ultima Underworld” and not “Doom”. Ultima Underworld was effectively a single character free movement Dungeon Master and it came out before Wolfenstein 3D. It ultimately did kill tile-based movement though, in much the same way that Dungeon Master ultimately killed off turn-based blob RPGs.

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        I played ultima underworld when you were still in nappies young un’

      • Casimir's Blake says:

        It’s a shame you wasted your time on this idiot, Wizardry. But thank you for posting about Ultima Underworld, anyway. The more people talking about it, the better. Almost Human should consider making “their Ultima Underworld” as, based on their performance with LOGR, it would be outstanding.

        • ResonanceCascade says:

          Ooh I’d take a UU-type game from these guys. Arx Fatalis was excellent, but it was a little too short and a little too linear. I’d like to see the whole shebang in a modern engine.

  39. ripwind says:

    Games and developers such as these are why PC gaming should be applauded often and loudly.

  40. Teronfel says:

    Oh god i want to play this right now!!!

  41. Eddy9000 says:

    “Part of the DM feel is movement, restricted to 90 degree turns, and advancing one tile at a time. If you’ve gone back to replay any Dungeon Master-inspired game of the late 80s/early 90s, you’ll likely have noticed how peculiar this can feel when in first-person, leaping a square at a time. But rather impressively, Grimrock manages to give this a pleasing, smooth feel”

    Spoooge!

    “The difficulty I mentioned can be enormously increased by invoking the game’s “Old School Mode” where it will stop auto-mapping for you, meaning you need to dig out/print some squared paper, and meticulously sketch out every level if you’re to have a clue where you’re going. ”

    SPOOOOOGE!

    “Maybe the game is designed to be that way, and saying what I learned a couple of hours from the end would be a horrible spoiler?”

    SPOOOOOOOOOOOOGE!

    Oh I’d preorder this right now but my keyboard is jammed with old-school spooge. Been a while since I’d had to break out my spooge-scraper (TM – Old Man Murray) after a review.

  42. rocketman71 says:

    Sounds fantastic.

    Glad I preordered this already.

  43. Moraven says:

    Teleporters…

    First floor of the last Strata (environment of 5 floors, ending in a boss fight) in Etrian Odyssey has this. I persevered, not looking up a FAQ and mapped out the floor on my own. 12 teleporters where only 1 takes you where you need to go. On that note, the next floor is hell also and still stuck on it last time I played.

    Look forward to this next week.

  44. MrThingy says:

    I’d been hovering over the “pre-order” button for this for a while now. Suffice to say, button (not so hidden) has now been pressed.

    For someone who remembers many hours spent with Ishar I & II / Knightmare / Captive and Eye of the Beholder (on a friend’s Amiga… no ST version… BOOOOO), I look forward to much awkward 90-degree lurching across dimly lit dungeons.

  45. MythArcana says:

    This article doesn’t mention that this is a Unity engine project and there are traces of development tidbits to be had there on the Unity forums, which are interesting and trace back to when they announced this a year ago. I’m starting to wonder about the actual depth of this game if you can finish it in 15 hours, though. But the production values alone really show off Unity to the hilt and I’m sure there is $12 worth of something in the mix…even if I’ll be back to Stone Soup within two weeks.

    • mckertis says:

      “But the production values alone really show off Unity to the hilt”

      I’m interested in what way ? I dont see how production values have anything to do with the engine.

    • Avish says:

      15 Hours is what convinced to buy this game.
      Some games can be quite exhausting after a while, and I believe that too much dungeon crawling, puzzle solving and monster bashing can get tiresome after 15 hours…

      • bfandreas says:

        Those 15 hours have to be a wild guess. It took my teenaged self at least a hundred hours to get through Eoye of the Beholder 1.That game can be finished in 3-4 hours if you have a bloody clue what to do. Most of the time you’ll be stumped, hunting for keys, hidden switches, cursing at teleporters and trying to depopulate rooms constantly reloading due to untimely death.

        • Avish says:

          My teenage self got quite angry and bored with eye of the beholder after a while (It was at least 50 hours of gameplay), so my adult self hopes those 15 hours won’t stretch beyond 20-25 hours.
          I don’t want to turn into an angry (but skinny) teenage virgin because of this game…

          • PodX140 says:

            Just beat the game and I think I clocked about 15 hours or so max, and I’m a hardcore completionist, looking through every dungeon twice to make sure I didn’t miss anything (ended with 7/7 treasures, so I did something right :P)

            Could easily be finished in as low as 8 or 7.

    • pistolhamster says:

      15 hours for 15 bucks. Sounds fine enough to me honestly!

  46. CrowPath says:

    I don’t need any more games. But I kept reading, then clicking, then watching. More clicking lead to a sale within five minutes.

  47. Navagon says:

    Good to know my pre-ordering wasn’t just some crazed act.

  48. Sorth_31 says:

    Good lord but this game makes me want it in the worst way.

    Then I read real time combat.

    Right, okay. Not interested anymore. Damn it. Still nice to see a game that caters to old school appeal. Just wish I could care about it now. Congrats to those that will enjoy it, took people long enough to cater to you.

    Oh, and because I know this is the internet. That last part was not sarcasm or bile, but genuine congratulations. Sad that I feel the need to clarify that, but Ho Hum.

    • bfandreas says:

      Funny thing: I’ve never played a 3D grid dungeon stomper with turn based combat.Was Wizardry one of those? I bought a 1-7 collection on CD 15 years ago but I never quite managed to play any of it.

      • Wizardry says:

        Depends what you mean. Wizardry 1 through 7 share the same tile-based first person movement outside of combat, but you can’t run around a dungeon with enemies chasing you after you’ve encountered enemies like you can in Dungeon Master and this game.

        Other turn-based games that use a tile-based first person perspective for exploration:

        Might and Magic 1 through 5
        Realms of Arkania 1 and 2
        All 11 Gold Box D&D games
        The Bard’s Tale trilogy
        Dragon Wars
        Legend of Faerghail
        Fate: Gates of Dawn
        Mines of Titan/Mars Saga
        Centauri Alliance
        The Dark Heart of Uukrul

    • Martel says:

      I admit that I also wanted turn-based rather than real time, but it still excites me so much I pre-ordered it anyway. Maybe they’ll come out with a demo so you can give it a chance and possibly get sucked in anyway

  49. Risingson says:

    Prepurchased. You people are my savings’ worst enemy. I kind of hate you.

  50. Vinterhus says:

    Is that a SunnO))) reference I see?