Grimrockin' and Rollin'
I decided to step away from the dungeon after my entire party was deftly wiped out by a strange spore like creature that incessantly flung poisonous orbs at me until I was left with only two words on screen as everything faded to grey: Game Over.
Strangely enough, I can't seem to remember a game I have played recently where I was just told Game Over and taken back to the main screen. There are no checkpoints, no continues. There is cold hard stone, endless mazes, and a million ways to die. This is Grimrock, and we are in some serious danger.
This game does not hold you by the hand and whisper soothingly that everything will be just fine while the two of you skip down a path so obvious it might as well be the lighted walkway of a 747 airliner. In fact, it drops you into the thick of it and tells you "Have a go" while cackling maniacally. It actually reminds me a bit of Myst in that part of the atmosphere is the feeling that you don't have much of a clue what is going on when you start out. I for one, like a little challenge in my games. This ethos was much more common in days past, where tutorials were not always included, and there was an assumption that a player brought with them to the game a set of basic understandings about how a genre is played.
Me the first time I booted up Myst.
Legend of Grimrock is a great game because it is so difficult at times, sometimes frustrating. But if you play it, and keep playing it, it just keeps getting richer and more fun. In fact, let me tell you a story. Both Jinx and I bought Grimrock pre-release (Good Old Games, you kick ass.) because we were nerding out about the prospect of a tile-based dungeon crawler. Jinx got to play through all the games that inspired Grimrock such as Dungeon Master when they came out, whereas I started with games more like Betrayal in Antara and Baldur's Gate. That being said we were both primed and ready.
The next day, we had both retreated to our own respective domiciles to have a crack at the dungeon, and had some very different, but interesting experiences. I found the game very novel, having brought into it no preconceived notions of "how exactly" I expected it to behave. Jinx had a good time, but wasn't entirely convinced it was living up to his expectations. We went back and forth about merits and flaws, and ended up agreeing that it was too early to say anything for sure.
What we really need is a Tardis. Then this would be really quick.
Flash forward to the following Monday. We again were at the fortress, he strode up to the Tardis-bedecked cube sector I claim as my own, and said to me verbatim:
"Legend of Grimrock is great. I take back everything I said before. It has thoroughly won me over."
I already agreed on this, but I was really happy to hear that he'd eventually ended up liking the game that had been so new and fascinating to me. If you are a D&D nerd (Guilty.), and like games that have some really high-tension moments, puzzles that just might make you want to take a break (Portal anyone?) I can say that you may just like Legend of Grimrock.
I paid for my copy with my own cold hard cash, so this is in no way a plug, I genuinely have an affinity for dungeon crawlers and this one takes the cake. If you are so inclined to want to do some reading with your eyeballs, roll on down to their site and poke around. They also are rumored to be releasing a map editor in the near future, with support for user created maps. If your brain is like mine, it just might be yelling "TOMB OF HORRORS!!!!!1!!one!" at you with the the volume and pitch of a three year old's giddy squeal at anyone in a Disney costume.
This the usually not something you want to see in a dungeon.
On a related note, Good Old Games are the rad purveyors of some of the best games you probably can't find the CD for if you ever owned at all. They don't sell anything with DRM, which is like the herald call of a new future Utopian world of gaming. The Witcher 2 is slated for release on their site, though not old by any means, it does seem like it's going to be good. One out of two isn't bad. So give GoG a look around. I personally went a little nuts and indulged my nostalgia re-buying all the games I used to love, and have likely destroyed by accident any evidence of having owned at some point.
Tune in soon for more of this, and updates about the newly started J!NX D&D game that we run bi-weekly. Plenty of good stories already, and some interesting rules crunch you guys can have a debate about and denounce me as a heathen DM for using.