The premise of the game starts out simply: you and the three strangers you’re chained to are convicted criminals. The guards take you to the top of Grimrock Mountain and toss you in a pit. At the bottom, you and your group must survive a labyrinth filled with puzzles, darkness, and danger.
The game is a throwback to old-school gaming with all the right modern perks. Movement is done with the WASD keys, but turning (with Q and E) is always done at 90 degrees for that full old-school effect. They also made the automap an option. For those classic gamers who remember (and love) using a pad of graph paper and a pencil and hastily sketching out tunnels as you go, just turn off automapping. I didn’t go that route. Though, to be fair, I have forgotten where I parked my car. I’m not saying it happens a lot, I’m just saying it’s happened.
While finding your way through the tunnels, you’ll find numerous dangers — I’m not just talking about the gigantic hostile life forms roaming the halls. You find torches on the way for light. Delightfully, these torches also run out and leave you and your party members in utter darkness. This may sound annoying, but it just added to the tension, which I thought was a nice touch.
The combat isn’t incredibly advanced; you just right-click on each team member’s abilities as they become available. It isn’t dissatisfying, but I wouldn’t say it’s the focus of the game — Grimrock is a well-rounded package. Group members can be dragged and dropped to switch up their order, their inventory panels are accessed with a single hotkey, and fighting maneuvers are executed simply by right-clicking each weapon. I actually like the simplicity here.
The main feature of the game is the puzzles. They start out fairly rudimentary and become a little more elaborate as the player continues through the tunnels. Trap doors, loose stones, hidden levers, secret passages, and the like all bar the passages until solved.
Traditional “hint” buttons are absent, but mysterious messages written in runes on the walls serve as clues — like how to get past this stony visage.
Hardcore gamers shouldn’t be put off by the simplicity, as there is loot aplenty to be found. Awesome loot. Loot for which you might sell your mother.
I’m kidding. Obviously, the loot gets better the deeper you go. Or keep the loincloth. I’m not here to judge your fashion choices.
I definitely recommend this game. It’s incredibly addictive and has surprises at every dark turn. The ease of the mechanics and maneuverability makes this a great game for teens and up. Also, the price is great for what you get. At the time of this post, the game costs $13.49 USD (retail is $14.99) and you will get a lot of enjoyment out of it.