This one wasn't my idea by the way. I actually got a request to play this months ago and I'm sorry it took me so damn long to for me to get around to it.
(Click the pictures to view them as a big jpg compression artefact corrupted mess instead of a little jpg compression artefact corrupted mess. Handy if you want to have a fighting chance to read the text.)
Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, they haven't given me the standard Tolkien-inspired set of generic fantasy races to choose from. Sure I'm still stuck with fighter, mage or rogue, but I can have a lizardman mage, or a giant bloody insect-creature rogue. Though it's probably better to have them the other way around looking at their stats.
I think it's going to take me a while here to pick my team and deal out skill points and traits. Not because I'm having a hard time figuring it all out, everything is actually clearly explained in that message window when I hover over them, but more because I just want to sit listening to this theme some more. This music is pretty much exactly what you'd want to be: a proper epic orchestral fantasy theme.
Here check it out yourself on youtube, see what you think.
Sorry, I'll stop now.
I assume they must have thrown one of those inflatable crash mats down first, or else we're soon going learn first hand why no one's ever escaped this place.
The developers may have been going for a retro style with the 90 degree turning arc and grid based movement, but the graphics definitely look a few steps above anything you'd see in the 80s. That's the prettiest boxy dungeon cell I've seen in ages! Oh plus there's a tutorial available from the pause menu, accessible by pressing ESC apparently. I'd be a fool not to check that out.
"Prisoners walk in a square formation with a front and a back row.Well, crap. I wish they'd told me that before I created my team. I've got an unarmed specialist keeping my mage company in the back row who will apparently never get to punch anyone. Time to restart and make a new team I guess.
Only the front row can perform melee attacks."
Oblivion quality graphics in a game made in 2012, but somehow combining it with a primitive 'move one tile at a time, camera locked forward' gameplay style puts a bit of the wonder back into it.
Anyway, featured in this screenshot: me pulling a lever and opening the a gate. Progress is being made.
I turned around to read that text on the right hand wall and it basically says to use something that flies to cross the gap, pretty much confirming that my brilliant solution is the right one. Then I went to turn back around to the left and accidentally hit the 'strafe left' key instead, dropping my whole team down the pit.
Good news though! My fall was broken by solid stone floor, costing me considerably less than all my health. Plus at the bottom I found a teleporter leading back up and a helpful message informing me that I can't fly. So that's one ambiguity finally cleared up.
Each of the three classes has their own set of skills to pick from though, so there's no way a fighter is going to learn magic and sadly mages will never become a master of unarmed brawling. Though my lizardman rogue totally will.
Fortunately I just so happened to have learned a Fireburst spell, which I presume to be highly effective against living things. Now I just need to figure out how to use the damn thing.
Right clicking my mage's hand switched her little window to this grid of nine runes and... oh crap, I'm going to have to enter the spell combination each and every time I want to cast it, like a bloody keycode aren't I? They are definitely going old school with this game. Senselessly old school!
Wow he actually can use it. 'Only the front row can perform melee attacks', my ass! I lost way too much health against the guy though, so I'm going to have to hang around here for a while and rest. I mean I have to click the rest button and wait for their health bars to fill up. It should bring back my mage's mana too, though I'm sure it must be really draining my food bars.
LATER, AFTER REACHING THE OLD TUNNELS OF LEVEL 2.
I wonder if that's what my team would look like now if you saw them in third person. Most of my people have shields now (except for the mage who gets to carry the torch), and they're just as determined to stand in a goofy fixed 2x2 formation. Well, better than single file I guess.
EVENTUALLY, DEEP WITHIN THE IDENTICAL CORRIDORS OF LEVEL 3.
So with my lizardman dead and my mage firing nothing but fizzles, I just didn't have the damage output to kill him in time. On the plus side though... the game has quicksaves! A single push of a button and this never happened. And we will never mention it again.
I suppose I could always take a step back every time he's about to make an attack. But movement in this is so clunky that it almost feels like cheating to try, like I'd be abusing the game mechanics. Plus if I wanted to dodge monsters I'd be playing something like Skyrim.
AND THEN I GOT STUCK.
Wow I am really honestly stuck here, I can't figure it out at all. I'm far too stubborn to check a walkthrough though, not for this. I can solve this, it's just going to take a little bit of thought and some logic.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER.
I survived the battle, then went back and figured the teleport room puzzle out in the end. It turns out there was another pressure plate I couldn't see from where I was standing. I had to be standing inside the room with the teleporters and facing left before I could see where to throw my stone. Sorry for spoiling that solution for you, it just took me forever to work that out and I wanted to be smug for a second.
Actually wait, even though just one of these guys can give my team a good fight, I reckon I can take a room full of spiders no problem; for this time I have the most powerful weapon in the game on my side: a door switch. Only one enemy can fit on a tile at once, so I just need to kill a single spider before its poison finishes me off, close the door, rest to full health, then repeat. To be honest, it's probably more tedious than it sounds, but perhaps that's an inevitable side effect of trying to replicate a combat system that was already considered clunky by the mid 90s.
Oh by the way, I finally found an bow for my archer! I've only got the five arrows though, which is less than optimal, but they're reusable so it's not a major disaster. The downside though is that I only get the five attacks and then he's useless for the rest of the fight, as I know better now than to start trying to swap weapons around during combat.
By the way, this automap is entirely optional and can be disabled on the 'new game' options screen. In fact, the game actually comes with a Grimrock-themed graph paper PDF file so you print out your own sheet to draw your maps on as you go, which I think is awesome. I don't understand why anyone would want to do that, but what I think is irrelevant really. Some people obviously do like drawing their own maps and those people have been catered for.
(Though how you're supposed to know what square to start drawing the map from I have no idea.)
To be honest I came into Legend of Grimrock expecting to find it unbearable, as I'm not exactly part of the niche audience it's been laser targeted at, but the game's just too likeable. I did actually enjoy it for the most part, before killing monsters started becoming time consuming. I'm sure there's ways to speed things up, tactics that didn't occur to me, maybe even a pause button to give me a chance to swap weapons and use potions in a fight without getting my ass kicked, but at my current level of knowledge I'm finding it becoming a bit of a grind. Hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, kill an enemy, rest... hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, hit, kill an enemy, rest... get woken up by a surprise spider attack, hit hit... etc.
Not to say there any actual grinding for XP in it, as there's only a limited supply of monsters around and they seem to firmly remain dead once you've released them from their Earthly existence. There's no obvious way to over-level in this, so you have to be smart about where you spend your finite skill points. There's only a limited amount of food and torches around as well, but thankfully it doesn't feel like a race against time, and you can chill out and solve the puzzles at your own pace.
In conclusion. Grimrock's the best retro grid based first person dungeon crawler I've played from 2012 so far and seems pretty good at doing what it does, if you're into that kind of thing.
Anyway, I'm done typing now, so if there's anything you want to say about Legend of Grimrock now's your chance. Also criticise my post if you want, that's fine too. Feedback is always appreciated, as long as you're not a big jerk about it.