Posted: March 31
Ok, I just marathoned through Grimrock 1 and 2 and thought I would conclude that with a concise review.
In short : the games are unbelievably good. Admittedly, this was the first time I've ever played a first person dungeon crawler with classic grid-based movement, but there is very little I can actually criticize.
The puzzles are extremely well designed. Even though it usually took me few minutes to go from "This ♥♥♥♥ makes no sense at all, what the hell!" to "ohhhh, I get it!", it felt all the more rewarding when I finally managed to solve a particularly difficult puzzle all on my own.
The first game manages to create a great gloomy atmosphere, when you delve into pitch black dungeons, devoid of any other human being, and when you can hear the various critters crawl somewhere on the other side of a wall. I would even say, it's not too far off from how a horror game feels.
The successor has a much more open and interconnected world, with differently themed areas, both above and below the surface, similar to how the first Dark Souls approached level design (including the bit where you aimlessly wander around in already cleared areas, looking for the entrance to the next dungeon). It may not be quite as eerie as the first Grimrock game, but the first mimic you encounter in the game will make sure to give you a heart attack regardless.
The only thing left to say is : Don't play them on hard mode on your first play through, like I did, or else you're in for a lot of frustration. The games do have a few really cheap moments, the second one even more so than the first one.
Because if there's one thing the developers really like, it's trying to make you fall down into a monster infested trap pit, which spells inevitable death. Few things are more infuriating than finding and activating a hidden switch on a wall, only to be mauled by a dozen monsters crawling in from all directions a few seconds later. Now, combine that with an incredibly clunky combat system (Grid-based attacks and movement. In real time. Why...?) which in itself poses enough of a challenge, when enemies can kill your front line in two hits, and you'll find yourself dangerously close to throwing something valuable out of the window. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who would have loved to have turn based battles, like in Wizardry 8 for example, in these games.