The Island Master

You wash up on a beach, locked in a cage, surrounded by three friends, and with nowt more than a stick to hand.

You guessed it! It’s time for another journey through the magical universe in which the Legend of Grimrock series is set. I have to say that of all the sequels I have played there are few who hit the nail more squarely on the head than the team behind this series. It’s a beautifully engaging story set in a massive world with several dungeons, many secrets, an open world experience, and best of all much more character customisation. There is a lot to do and you’re going to need all the food you can get to not starve until the deed is done.

You start with a choice of five different races, eight different classes, new traits, and a completely revitalised skill system. Now the classes are more the base guidelines for how the characters play. Such as the Knight gaining double the evasion bonus from shields. Or the Barbarian having no actual unique traits save for gaining one point of Strength every level.

There are so many beautifully rendered environments everywhere you go.
There are so many beautifully rendered environments everywhere you go.

This allows you to pick a range of classes and not have to worry that you’re going to miss out on a particular skill, or attribute, or style of play, as they are pretty flexible in their approach. Of course if you are planning to use shields then a Knight is a good choice, or if you’re planning to dual wield then a Rogue is a good choice, or if you fancy dual wielding and using several different weapons the Fighter comes in as the jack of all trades. This also means you don’t need a Wizard or Battle Mage to cast magic (but they are the only two who can cast with their bare hands).

The skill system is also concentrated as there is only one point gained per level, but each skill caps at five points, while with a few points of investment most skills gain a unique bonus.

There is a whole host of different locations to visit, different enemies to face, new puzzles to solve, tonnes of new items to find, a whole revisited alchemy system, and many more spells despite less points being required to unlock them. Along with this, a new addition, firearms, which as the name suggests is any kind of musket or cannon. There’s a lot to keep you busy and more than enough to keep you entertained. Also included are actual boss fights where you face tougher enemies with unique mechanics or attacks.

All of this makes for a satisfying RPG experience that is both tough and unforgiving but enjoyable enough that you press on regardless.

One of the things I would like to highlight is that this is definitely a role playing experience. This isn’t a watered down case of making choices that don’t really matter or affect anything- your team and everyone in it is important to your progress. There are some hints that you won’t find until later in the game which uncover things earlier in the game, or some locations that simply cannot be opened until you uncover their secrets, and the like. But who you take, the decisions you make, and how you explore will be different every time you play.

Making good use of the map, making notes, adding markers, and being generally vigilant in everything you do is the key to success. A sorely missed quality in most modern games which are pretty much the same no matter how you play them or how many times you play them.

Have a great week, all!

Moggie

Conquering Mount Grimrock

It’s so dark, I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m cold, and… is that floor bread I see over there?!

That’s a pretty accurate representation of what it’s like to play Legend of Grimrock. This title is one that I feel many kinds of RPG gamers will enjoy as it features a range of interesting elements like puzzle solving, combat, exploration, survival, and a four person party in a rather different fashion than usual.

The first step in this adventure is all about selecting the four people who will make up your party of which you have a choice of the Fighter, the Rogue, and the Mage. You also need to select which two will be in the front row (the two who take damage from most of the fights) and who is in the back row (mostly casters or ranged attackers) which is a key part of your survival. Each class does have a capacity to be in either row, as a Rogue can fight on the front row, while a Mage could also fight on the front row, but close range weapons don’t work from the back row (like swords and axes) so any close range characters are best suited at the front. There is a spear you can get that attacks from the back but it’s effectively useless in later levels.

All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.
All of my screenshots for this game are just me setting fire to things.

Once done you will be plunged into the unforgiving depths of the mountain you now call home.

For those new to RPGs or the casual gamers out there I would suggest going slow through the initial levels as there are literally secrets everywhere. There is a lot to find, there is a lot to do, and there is a lot of things hidden in plain sight that you’ll miss being centred on an objective or puzzle so explore and explore some more. You’re going to need all the help you can get.

One of the refreshing aspects of this title (if not more than a little punishing) is that there is content to be explored and puzzles to be solved and if you don’t your progress could quite easily be driven to a halt. There are hints and tips for most puzzles in the game in one form or another, though. That said most of the harder puzzles are for optional loot and some are not necessarily required to progress at all. Tied to this is how the game tracks how hungry each character is, which, while they won’t die if they’re completely starved, they also don’t regenerate health or energy and their attack power is halved. So food and inventory management is a must.

All of this creates an experience where you are going to need to think about what you’re doing and try to solve puzzles or combat encounters efficiently. It’s not a case that you need hundreds of hours of experience to finish the game but it asks that you think about what you’re doing, and that you explore, or at least look around, to get the best experience. You can very easily skip over many of the secrets and unique items to get to the end much quicker but you will have a much harder time for it.

I would also like to add that despite the claims of the game being quite short (it can be if you rush past everything as can most things) I have over 50 hours in it at the moment and I still have achievements to get. I was pleasantly surprised by this title as I wasn’t expecting much from it but it was a memorable and enjoyable experience.

Have a nice week all!

Moggie.