The Average Gamer

Indie (Grim)Rock: Legend Of Grimrock 2

Legend of Grimrock 2 - Fountain
I make a save every few tiles that my block-formation characters chunkily crunch into, especially if I’m flipping a switch or going somewhere likely to seal me off from escape. You should see walking into a room in Grimrock as a recon mission. Do Not Engage, you shout into the earpieces of your menagerie of battle-monsters. Just see what’s in there, probably die and we’ll figure it out later. Godspeed. Warping back a few minutes you’ve a chance to ready your axe, knock your bowstring and kinda twiddle your mouse cursor around in the spellcasting bit to heighten your chances of success.

Grimrock 2 and its forebear are pinnacles of trepidatious movement though uncertain surroundings, the feeling that you don’t want to progress past the safety you’ve carved out but knowing you’re going to have to see this thing to its completion. You’re four prisoners sent away to a hellish gygaxian fantasy penitentiary. You’re not supposed to have an easy Reading Week time of it. You’ll be pushed mentally and physically as punishment for your undisclosed and probably undeserving crimes (All my weird bug dude client wanted to do was smoke some reefer at home, his lawyer pleads).

The first Grimrock expertly mixes a sense of dread and hesitance of what’s to come with a gauntlet-hurling challenge. You aren’t good enough to solve all of these silly pressure-plate and teleporter puzzles. You aren’t nimble enough to avoid taking damage by jumping out the dang way and whacking an enemy with attacks until it is dead. Where the first Grimrock was a relatively linear plod down further and deeper into a dungeon, 2 allows for a more open-ended exploration, giving you the space to struggle against a component, get fucked-off by it to the point of escape and later on reach a realisation on how best to tackle it. It allows some of these challenges to be more difficult as a result. I probably won’t solve them all. Maybe I don’t even want to.

Legend of Grimrock 2 - DoorRather than confining you to increasingly suffocating and claustrophobic depths, Grimrock 2 is filled with open outdoor areas with light and colour abounding. The sunbathing barely detached from my fright; it more so provided a baseline feeling of safety while above-ground that I’d begin to miss when voluntarily dipping downward in order to progress. How low must your intelligence be, Mat Jones, to have chosen this battle with massive crabs in a brick-lined fort?

Items in Grimrock are my favourite thing. They’re my favourite thing in a massive list of things that are also very good about Grimrock that aren’t really found elsewhere. You gain equipment. Starting from absolutely nothing, you’ll have a full suite of armour and weaponry for your characters, but eventually you’ll find that your initial items become useless. There’s no way to sell anything, so I’ve just been throwing them on the floor with a little note on my map denoting their location just incase I need them again. If I had the patience I’d hoof it back to the starting area each time. A beach. It’d be like burying pirate booty, only it’s some old tattered shoes that I’ve outgrown by 3 whole protection stats.

Legend of Grimrock 2 - PortcullisEverything you use is good until it doesn’t keep you alive as effectively as something else. Much like everything in Grimrock is deadly until it’s circumvented, puzzling until it’s trivial, uncomfortable until it’s familiar.

Otherwise, I like how your choice of fantasy races for characters doesn’t include fucking Elves or whatever. It’s lizard people. It’s big ol’ minotaurs. It’s some messed up bugs. Similarly the variety of enemy design is unpredictable. I’ve been fighting mermen for 20 minutes. Now when I walk into this area I’m shooting fireballs at sentient mushrooms. I haven’t fought a single giant rat. Well actually I guess I have, but, uh… you’ll see why that’s alright.

Grimrock 2 overflows with modern takes on classic design. It improves on an already excellent formula and I’m cutting this short because I’ve just figured out how one of the puzzles works and I have to see what is behind that door oh gosh oh gosh.