THE LEGEND OF GRIMROCK / Almost Human / PC
 
 
The Legend of Grimrock came out in 2012 but is an old school throwback to the likes of Eye of the Beholder, Dungeon Master and Wizardry. Games that had you create a party of four and dump you in an unrelenting dungeon, usually with very little plot and only the goal of surviving your way to the deepest depths where the Big Bad dwells.

Grimrock was made by a small indie team on a small budget, so it's not the most feature-rich game. You pick from only three character classes (Fighter, Mage or Rogue) and four races (Human, Minotaur, Lizardman, Insectman). The setup is that convicts get tossed into this mysterious giant dungeon in the mountain of Grimrock and offered their freedom if they find the secrets in the depths and manage to emerge somehow. Of course, no one ever has, but our party aims to change all that. Once inside, the party will sometimes be contacted in dreams by some sort of mysterious mechanical entity who seems to want to help them - but to find them they'll have to gradually descend to the lowest levels, fighting monsters and solving basic puzzles along the way.
 


The interface is extremely simple. It's pretty well designed, but also exceptionally basic as compared to today's RPGs. Right click on weapons equipped in the front row to throw or swing, right click on the staves or range weapons of the rear guard to have them fire. There's no healing spells or items whatsoever - you heal only by camping or from touching the occasional blue healing crystal scattered throughout the dungeon (the latter also being the only way to revive a dead character.) Aside from combat, your only other considerations are light (you'll have to continually pick up fresh torches along the way and have at least one of your rear guard holding one) and food which must be scavenged. Puzzles are very basic - setting blocks on tiles to hold doors open, finding hidden buttons to push in walls, the occasional mirror/portal maze, that sort of thing.
 


Aside from the main quest, the game does also offer a dungeon creation mode. Admittedly I didn't play with the dungeon editor much but it uses a fairly intuitive overhead grid plotting system that's similar to other dungeon creation games, and it appears that pretty much anything that appears in the game proper can be replicated in user dungeons. And of course you can swap and share them.

Indie devs just can't compete with the insane tech and marketing budgets of the big boys at this point, so their best bet is to find an underserved niche like this and stick to it. Almost Human does that very well and the 3* (which I would like to take this opportunity to remind complainy people IS A POSITIVE RATING) doesn't reflect mediocrity but just the relatively narrow slice of gamingdom that this is going to appeal to. If, however, you grew up with stacks of graph paper in your room and Rush cassettes on blast, Legend of Grimrock is a well-crafted ride back to the day.
 
 
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