by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Real-time dungeon crawling
The design element that sets Legend of Grimrock apart from some other dungeon crawlers out there is real-time gameplay. The developers feel that this allows for combat that is based on tactics and timing and it is also helpful in making more interesting puzzles for the gamer to solve. They also want to make clear that although this game hails back to the style and feel of old-style dungeon crawlers, it will be a game that would not have been able to be made fifteen years ago. In their words, the game “will look great, have loads of atmosphere, sound good and play well.”
The dungeons themselves are designed in old-fashioned grid-based design, meaning that you can use grid paper to map the dungeons like the gamers had to do in the old days. However, Legend of Grimrock will be a bit user-friendlier in that regard; it includes an auto-map feature. The gameplay will still bring back many memories to any old-time players familiar with the genre: the steps are taken one grid at a time and you turn in 90 degree increments when you follow the twists and turns of the corridors. But this is all brought to the modern day with excellent graphics, dynamic lighting, realistically moving and attacking enemies and generally smooth movement.
Vast dungeons, interesting enemies
The developers say that the first release of the game will include 15 dungeons, each more complex and more dangerous than the ones before. In order to explore everything there is to explore, you will have to study the dungeons closely, to find things that are out of place and that could be moved to open secret passages. This is made easier by the implementation of mouse-look that breaks away from the 90 degree turn methodology and allows you to look up and down walls in more careful manner.
The enemies consist of giant snails and spiders, dungeon ogres, skeletons – many of them raising nostalgic goose bumps on my skin as they remind me so much of the days of my youth. The animations at the moment are fluid, even if somewhat limited in scope. But not all of the enemies will be familiar from similar titles of the old. There will be more surprising and fearsome monsters as well, such as the Uggardians, who are powerful magical creatures, summoned by magicians to guard the tombs of kings. Even though believed dead and gone for ages, some of them can still be found roaming the tunnels of Grimrock.
Legend of Grimrock may not be the blockbuster title of the year, but it is definitely on my list of most expected titles. I’m sure there are a lot of old-timers out there who yearn to play games like they used to in their youth, but also desire better graphics and UI. This game should bring us precisely that, and a lot more.