I reviewed the first Legend of Grimrock when it came out almost two years ago. It was a very interesting game that brought oldschool RPG elements back into the limelight. The sequel was announced and I just had to play it. I wanted to see how this surprisingly small team of developers were going to one up themselves and make Legend of Grimrock 2 better than the original. The first game was all about dungeon crawling, but Grimrock 2 has taken a new approach to how the game should be played and it works so well.
You play as four prisoners that wash up on a beach shore. They must survive the harsh wilderness and uncover the mystery of the island. There is a mysterious wizard placing notes around the prisoners and before he can be interacted with, he vanishes. While the story doesn’t have any directed interaction with the player. It is told in a rather unique manner. It focuses on visual experiences and with the mysterious notes scattered around the maps.
Gameplay is practically the same the second time around. It does feel more responsive now. Using magic is more accessible as well as weapon skills. Magic scales with four stats, Concentration, Earth, Air, Fire, and Earth. A combination of these will allow you to cast a variety of spells. If your stats can support it. You can toy around with the rune combinations and cast spells without finding the scrolls that tell you how to cast the spell and what the requirements are. From there, weapons can have skills to use on them and they require a certain proficiency in that specific stat. So to use Thrust on the Rapier you need Light Weapons 3 etc. Same thing with using weapons in general. Firearms is rather useful but coming across ammo is sort of hit or miss.
Combat is rather fast paced so moving around is surprisingly useful despite being a grid based game. You learn this when you fight the first boss. Legend of Grimrock 2’s method of teaching you how to take advantage of your enemies is surprisingly simple, it teaches you through experiences. There isn’t a tutorial or quest markers. You don’t have a huge cast of NPC’s that act like Exposition Machines. You have to wander around and figure out what to do. Now this is nice game design, but at the same time, it hurts the game. Because you will be wandering around a lot, trying to figure out how to solve certain puzzles and a lot of them do not have clues to even push you in the right direction.
Level design is great but it works against you a lot. Something I really did like though was the ability to place my own markers on my map and label them. So if I came across a locked chest, I could mark it on the map and revisit when I get lockpicks. The game is filled with secret areas and puzzles, it is really refreshing to have a game with stuff to do, but you have to work for it. It makes you think, especially when you are in a dungeon and you see a sign that says, “There is no turning back.”
While LoG2 has great game design through teaching the player how to play and great level design. It suffers from bad conveyance. There are plenty of times where you are sitting in an area and going “What do I do? Where do I go?”. It really kills the pacing, especially when you are all pumped after looting a tough dungeon. It is still a great game that all RPG fans should at least experience. Fans of old school RPGs will find LoG2’s unique take on the genre nostalgic. I give Legend of Grimrock 2 a 9/10. You can pick it up on Steam now.