Legend of Grimrock II
There’s no doubt in my mind that “Legend of Grimrock“, released in 2012, was a breath of fresh air. After all, there haven’t been a lot of tile-based dungeon crawlers to hit the virtual shelves as of late. The last one I remember playing before “Legend of Grimrock” was “Eye of the Beholder”, which was released in 1991 for MS-DOS. That’s quite a gap, though I’m not all that surprised. Action RPGs give the player the freedom to move about the environment without being confined to preset spaces and have been around since the early 1980s. Still, there’s something to be said for tile-based dungeon crawlers and the way they’ve captivated and charmed us retro-gamers. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to see the likes of “Legend of Grimrock II” so quickly, though I’m pleased to have been proven wrong. Before we jump into the review, I’d like to quickly thank Juho Salila from Almost Human Ltd. for providing me with a free press copy.
Let’s get the obligatory stuff out of the way first. “Legend of Grimrock II” is classified as a dungeon crawling RPG that confines you to a tile-based grid. For you youngsters out there, this means that when you move left, you’ll move over one space on the map. Your party consists of four prisoners who have shipwrecked on the secluded island of Nex and yes, you can customize them before you embark on this journey. You’ll see the world in first person but attack with all four party members as enemies begin blocking your path. Like games typical of this genre, the two party members in front will take the brunt of the attacks and are often best suited for melee combat. The two in the back are often support and ranged classes, though you’re free to try out different party combinations as you see fit.
So, what’s different? For one, the setting is a bit more open-world in that you can freely explore the island and take on challenges in the order you’d like. “Legend of Grimrock” was very linear in that your goal was to find the exit to the level you were on in order to progress to the next one. If you get stuck or tired of a particular area of “Legend of Grimrock II”, you can simply go do something else or explore some other dungeon. It’s a bit like “The Legend of Zelda” for the NES in that regard and the environments are equally as varying. This was a welcome feature in my book as my attention span and patience can sometimes be bit on the short side. Water is probably the most frustrating environment, especially if you can’t find a ladder before your party drowns.
There’s also more content across the board. “Legend of Grimrock II” features 8 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. This is a big step up from the original, which only featured three classes (fighter, rogue, and mage). In addition to an editor that allows you to create your own horrific dungeons, the game supports Steam Workshop. This will allow you to upload your own torture chambers for others to play and likewise, download new content for you to conquer. The AI also reacts a bit faster in combat, though you can still employ hit and strafe tactics on the slower enemies you’ll come across. A day/night cycle adds proverbial icing to the cake, adding a sense of dread to places you thought were safe during the day time.
My only complaint is that the easy difficulty setting can still be a bit challenging at times. Casual players just wanting to relax and breeze through the game will be in for a rude awakening. The puzzles can be equally as frustrating and I think an optional hint system might have worked well here. You will find hints in the environment to help you solve some of these puzzles, but you’ll have to find them first. Again, casual players may be turned off by the amount of thinking and planning required to progress. Most retro-gamers familiar with tile-based dungeon crawlers are used to this level of punishment and probably won’t mind, though folks new to the genre may get frustrated from time to time.
“Legend of Grimrock II” is a sequel worthy of the series, plain and simple. It does more than its predecessor both in terms of content and replayability. It’s kind of redundant to say that “fans of the first game will love this one”, but in this case, it’s true. As such, it’s very easy to recommend to those who don’t mind a moderate to hard level of difficulty. While the sequel is about nine dollars more in terms of launch price (“Legend of Grimrock” was $14.99 at launch, the sequel is $23.99 as of 10/16/14), I believe you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck should you decide to invest. If you’re worried that you haven’t played or finished the first one, you needn’t…the prisoners and story-line are unrelated, so have at it!
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Legend of Grimrock II” by visiting the following websites: