A brilliant sequel to the tile-based RPG of 2012, Legend of Grimrock II is more of the same atmospheric adventuring from developer Almost Human, but with 2014‘s new content and ideas.
Grimrock 2 begins after a shipwreck; on a beach, with rocky, exterior locations, which is a surprising and refreshing way to start a game like this. You can even walk in the shallow water, which is nice, and on the very first level the shallow water holds an important secret. Don’t miss it.
As the sun goes down, though, you know you’re going to be in for a hard time with the local monster population, and keeping death at bay is often a game of split-second reactions and clever movement, than anything. At times, in the heat of battle, you have to remember how different enemies react to your movements in order to beat them, or not fall into their traps. For example: early in the first level you meet some little blue creatures (Goblins) who are very aggressive and attack you with no warning. They come at you in small groups. If you sidestep next to one, to try to get a hit in, they will jump backwards to avoid your blow. So you have to remember to sidestep once more, before you can get a hit in. So the tactic for beating Goblins is to try to separate them, then try to get one into a corner, where it can’t jump backwards to avoid your side-swipes. Magic is good against certain enemies. The creepy mummies are weak to fire spells, which is good because that’s the way the game introduces you to the magic system, which is done by clicking a series of runes on the menu, then clicking the ‘cast’ button.
All the monsters in Grimrock 2 are well thought-out, and have their strengths and weaknesses; move speeds, and move tactics. The mini tree-like creatures – the annoying ones that hide in the trees and leap out at you after you’ve passed – I think they’re called Ents, have a really tricky move pattern, where they move towards you sideways and attack really quickly. So unless you’re fast they can overwhelm you quickly. Others spit poison at you from a distance. The world of Grimrock 2 really is a deadly hunting ground for some of the scariest monsters you’ll ever meet in an RPG. The skeleton guards especially put the willies up me! Their real-time shadows as they move across the corridors into view are really quite astounding. The atmosphere generated by the lighting and music is just sooo good! You’ll be gripped by the precise WSAD/mouse combat, and cursing certain monsters when they kill the front row and force you to re-load.
A very practical enhancement to Grimrock 2 is the ability to have alternative weapons setups on your characters, and the ability to quickly switch between them when in combat. This gives the player the chance to experiment with more weapons and items, which is good.
Grimrock 2 also has its tense boss battles. There’s alchemy this time, and plants to pick up and make into potions. There’s digging (for buried treasure). An improved automap system. A mysterious, unfolding storyline. And even a simple-to-use dungeon editor, for making your own custom dungeons that anyone with a copy of Grimrock 2 can play. The gameplay, and the whole package, is top quality. And it is a tough challenge too. Getting all the achievements is way beyond my capabilities…
Legend of Grimrock II is a worthy sequel to a great first game. It expands and enhances the Grimrock experience immeasurably, and the result is arguably one of the best tile-based RPGs ever made.
Click: The original Legend of Grimrock on The King of Grabs.