A retrospective (Spoilers ahoy!)
Just finished the game this evening, and I must say there was something, for want of a better word, magical about the experience. It's not nostalgia, since I never played this sort of first-person dungeon crawler growing up. It just has a certain je ne sais quois, and I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel.
That said, I do have two minor gripes and one weirdish observation to share. The first gripe is that a few of the puzzles are, shall we say, unnecessarily opaque. I won't go into details, since I can see from the board that this has been covered to hell and back, but I will say that I could have done with fewer tacked-on hunt-the-button elements. The other, more withering gripe is that there's a rather harsh and unexpected punishment for sticking to a certain old-school playstyle. See, I refused to save the game outside of using Life Stones; made death a bit more of a risk, felt a bit more authentic, that sort of thing. Downside is that after I completed the game I started up a new one in Toorum mode and played for about thirty seconds just to see what it was like. Sadly, this immediately overwrote the single autosave which contained my triumphant dungeoneering party, so the option of taking them through custom dungeons is forever lost to me.
To be fair, I did actually unlock Toorum mode via the "create a text file" method, since I missed it the first time through and didn't want to crawl through ten floors with a new party just to unlock it. So you could call it karma. But I still think that having multiple autosaves rather than a single one, or a single one per party, would have saved some heartbreak. Ah, well. I consider those four retired. And now, to the weirdish observation.
As I said, I missed Toorum's body on my playthrough, so I had no idea that he was actually dead until after I finished and did a bit of googling. As such, and maybe this is just me, but I formed the impression that he was the "undying one" and the "one below" that all the cryptic messages were referring to, and that he was the one sending me all the dream messages. The existence of the "Give Toorum a hand" achievement, fistbump graphic and all, only served to reinforce the notion that saving him was going to be a significant plot element. I was expecting the five of us to bust our way out of Grimrock, especially once I found out about the "broken portal." Now, once the cube started rolling around, it was pretty obvious that Toorum wasn't the one that had sent the dream messages, but I was still expecting him to show up after the fight was over. More specifically, when I got the message about taking the cube apart before I could kill it, I was expecting Toorum to (probably via left-behind notes) help me get into the vault of the Dismantler, because with a name like that, in a vault I had seen on the way down but hadn't found a way into, surely the weapon must have been locked away as another failsafe in case Grimrock's most dangerous prisoner was awakened. When I figured out that I could just hand-pluck all the extraneous pieces out, it was a bit of a "huh. Okay" moment, but I thought perhaps my favorite note-writer might join us on the way out of the dungeon. Wasn't really expecting the game to suddenly end after I destroyed the cube.
Now, that might sound like a complaint (and to be fair, it is, a bit), but what makes this wall of text worth sharing is that I found that missing out on finding Toorum's corpse, and not figuring out my way into the Dismantler's vault, actually made me perceive the game's story as being richer than it was. The final boss still kind of came out of nowhere, but I felt like I was being deliberately misled in a satisfying way, and the "Ah-ha" moment when I realized what all the cryptic messages were really referring to were was, I think, more engaging than it would have been if I hadn't had those expectations going in. In short, I was treated to a Sherlock Holmes twist (the culprit wasn't who you expected, and isn't this exciting!) instead of a Shyamalan twist (You can't possibly have seen this coming, and I hope you enjoy that feeling!). It would have made for a better Act II closer than a curtain call, I think, but I still believe I enjoyed the ending more than I would have if I hadn't misinterpreted the story up to that point.
So, yeah. That's my two cents (maybe two and a half). It's not without its flaws, but I still thoroughly loved this game, and I'd recommend it to anyone. :)