The puzzles, riddles, secrets and mechanics of the dungeon weave a decent challenge from a very limited toolbox. Switches, levers, pressure plates and teleporters make for familiar and intuitive problems – but Grimrock squeezes everything out of them. You’ll get that sullen feeling of walking around in circles, then stopping to do something else until your subconscious throws up a couple of suggestions. You’ll learn not to turn Grimrock off, because you know you’ll be back.
So, would I recommend Grimrock to a Dungeon Master fan? Of course. Just be prepared to forgive how very similar it is. Would I recommend it to a total newcomer?
Legend of Grimrock walks a very fine tightrope with outrageous confidence. With its ruthless adherence to 1990s design it shamelessly panders to nostalgia, but it never feels like it relies on that inherited fondness to get by. That's a trap too many retro-inspired indies fall into: letting the past do all the work to mask holes in the design. Grimrock doesn't do that. It reminds us that the old ways still have value, but its thoughtful construction and nuanced balance ensure that it can still stand on its own two feet in 2012 and justify its existence on its own terms.
Middle-aged role-players should need no encouragement to plunge into Grimrock's depths, but for new players discovering the genre through sprawling epics like Skyrim, its robust reliance on the strength of squares will make it a refreshing experience.
But considering how difficult it is to balance old school and modern ideas of complexity and difficulty Grimrock still does remarkably well. The interface looks very similar to Dungeon Master but it's actually thoroughly modern in how it lets you fiddle with your inventory and mix potions without trawling through endless sub-menus.
It might not be a perfect marriage of old and new, but Grimrock is a game to delight both retro gamers and those that have never had to use a piece of graph paper to map a level in their life…
Overall, though Legend of Grimrock is a great way to revisit the good old days of the dungeon delve. Some interesting level design and nice production values might just nab the genre one or two new fans, too.
The main problem with the Legend of Grimrock is its lack of customization. You get the option of customizing your four man party, but there are only three classes. There are four races to choose from, and four attributes that all characters share. But for this kind of adventure game I’d like to have more choices between what my party is made up of. At least make it so each character in your party can fulfill a different role. This hurts the gameplay and the replay ability.
All in all it was a fun game. I got lost fighting through level after level of their well-designed dungeon. Currently the Legend of Grimrock is just the one dungeon, however Almost Human Productions has stated that they are looking to create additional dungeons and maybe even make a player dungeon builder.