Indie Game Showcase: Legend of Grimrock II

Grimrock legend – not only is it set in a new, beautiful locale, but it brings along some nice improvements as well.
 
Right off the bat when starting the game, it’s immediately obvious that we’re not in Grimrock anymore. Whereas the first game kept you penned in by repeated wall tiles (though they were very well made wall tiles) and the only real variation was a secret button here and there, Grimrock II features a constantly changing, island environment. You begin playing on a beach after your ship mysteriously crashes, quickly advance into a sort of grassy forest area, and then run across ruins from time to time. In short, the visuals alone keep you moving from area to area as fast as your legs can go.
 
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Of course, going along with the legs joke, the basic concepts of the game have stayed the same. Your party is still built around the old table-top, dice and paper style of a four party system with two fighter types in the front and a caster and ranged in the back; you still square dance with the enemies to avoid taking a hit while abilities cool down; you still eat and sleep to heal. That being said, this game brings in a new race – the Ratling – with its own unique abilities. Also, there are several new game modes to change it up a bit for later playthroughs.
 
Now, some of those are things returning players will recognize – I’m talking about the “old-school” mode that deactivates auto mapping, which, in a game not as blocky as the last, becomes much harder to map free-handed (still, if you do remember the ‘old-school days,’ it’s a nice blast from the past). Other modes make the game more like the last. Specifically, in the game there are giant, floating crystals that heal and save the game. In the earlier game, they were the only ways to save. However, in this one, there has been an addition of an auto-save feature that take away some of the magical, awesomeness of the crystals originally. Luckily, for those that really enjoyed the previous game, there is a mode to remove the quick saves.
 
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Finally, and best of all, there is the ‘mac-daddy’ of all the game modes. In this one, there is but a single crystal. No quick saves, no later crystals. You die at any point in the game, and you go right back to the beginning. Certainly, for some, this may seem a bit too much for a game. It does add a certain table-top aspect to the game. In the olden days of D&D, you couldn’t save before rushing headlong into a boss or a deadly puzzle – you just dealt with it. Again, not for all, but it – just like many other things in the game – it’s a nice reminder of gaming roots.
 
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So, if this game, its predecessor, or old-school, table-top games interest you, consider giving it a look. At the moment, it is above the $20 range, but it’s filled with enough puzzles and monsters to keep you slaying and looting for hours.