Haven Editorial: Legend of Grimrock vs. Legend of Grimrock 2

Grimrock1and2When considering a genre-based purchase, gamers are often torn between two similar titles. Welcome to Professor’s Game Comparisons. In this installment, we examine two titles in the “Dungeon RPG” genre: Legend of Grimrock vs. Legend of Grimrock 2.

Player vs. Dungeon (PvD) is a term I coined to describe a certain brand of Dungeon RPG. In PvD games, players are pitted primarily against the “architecture” of a dungeon or wilderness; the denizens who live there are secondary.

PvDs debuted in the 1980s and peaked in the ’90s. Titles such as Dungeon Master, Eye of the Beholder and Ultima Underworld brought thousands of new fans into the genre. Some Open World RPGs also took a page from the PvD, most notably the Might and Magic series and the Wizardry series. This article however, is devoted to a recent tribute to the old dungeon crawls: Legend of Grimrock (LoG) (2012) and it’s younger sibling, LoG 2 (2014).

The first point to note is that LoG 2 is not necessarily a sequel to LoG. In fact, the Steam forums are in quite a debate about how exactly the installments relate to each other. We do know that they are both set in a common universe, and follow the same general lore. Let’s examine each, in turn.


 

In LoG, you begin by creating a party of characters. You choose from four races and three classes. The races are as follows:

Human: Overall balanced attributes, with no particular strengths or weaknesses.
Minotaur: Enhanced Strength and Vitality (natural health level), but reduced Dexterity (associated with lock-picking and ranged weapon accuracy) and Willpower (associated with magical arts).
Lizard Man: Enhanced Dexterity, but reduced Willpower.
Insectoid: Enhanced Dexterity and Willpower, but reduced Strength and Vitality.CharacterCreationBaThe classes represent occupations, and some are better suited to certain races than others:

Fighter: Values Strength and Vitality above other attributes. Excellent for Humans and Minotaurs.
Mage: Emphasizes Willpower and Dexterity. Well suited for Insectoids.
Rogue: Extreme focus on Dexterity. Optimized for Lizard Men.

Currently, only the early alpha stage of LiF:YO is available. The projected release is TBA, but early 2016 is likely. LiF:MMO is somewhat trickier to predict, as closed testing isn’t scheduled to begin until the “first half” of 2016, according to the developer.

calendar-man-4-9-legend-of-grimrockThere are two major differences between LiF:YO and LiF:MMO:
1. Map size (3 square kilometers vs. 21 square kilometers, respectively)
2. Maximum number of players (64 people vs. 10,000+ people, respectively)2012-04-13_00005Don’t let the seemingly smaller scope fool you…3×3 km is huge! The game started me off at the extreme southern shore of the map, and I decided to hoof it to more interesting landmarks on the northern side. It took over 30 minutes to trek the following path:
LiF focuses on three major activities:

Exploring: Walk, sprint and mouse-look your way to victory. Basic movement is fairly straightforward, but here in the alpha the interface occasionally trips over itself. When you close a dialog box for instance, the Windows cursor sometimes fails to disappear. This means that mouse-look is frozen until you press a certain key to release the cursor. One of the first things you’ll want to seek out are apple trees, as they will be your primary source of food for a while:LegendOfGrimrockLegend_of_Grimrock_screenshot_09Acquiring: I’m using this term loosely to refer to the collection of resources, whether it be foraging, fishing, mining or any other such general gathering. It all begins by opening the “Context Menu”, which I have bound to my left mouse button. Simply point to any object in your environment (yes, even the ground) and click. This brings up a list of actions that directly relate to various skills your character has thus far mastered:

CharacterCreationABuilding: I use this term to reflect improvement; not only to your eventual homestead, but also to your character’s physical prowess. Press the “Skills” key to see a complete list of abilities. On the left-facing page in the diagram below, each horizontal row represents a unique skill, while vertical columns denote increasing levels of mastery. The right-facing page describes abilities earned after reaching important milestones of learning:grim_pyramidLegend_of_Grimrock_2_-_12maxresdefault2Although there are several goal-oriented play modes available in LiF:YO, the easiest way to learn the game is in “basic sandbox” mode. Here there is no hurry; I simply enjoy taking in the sights. I also turn my air conditioning up nice and breezy for full effect! As you explore, day turns to night…and back to day…perhaps a little too quickly. It would be nice to directly control the length of each; maybe even sync it to your local time zone. Other than that, the environment is quite realistic; especially with the Ultra graphics settings enabled. For my video series I use Medium, but periodically switch to both High and Ultra when key vistas present themselves. Below are a couple of screenshots for reference. The forest scene is in High-res; the mountain shot is in Medium-res:By now you may be wondering about the huts, farms, houses and eventual mega-keeps and castles supposedly featured in LiF. You should understand that this is a slow, deliberate process (Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc.). You will, and should spend hours in discovery before constructing things. Additionally, take time to understand your status bars. Pop quiz: What’s the difference between “hard” and “soft” stamina…or between hard and soft hit points? Which character stat allows you to carry inventory in slight excess of your weight allowance?

3My YouTube series progresses just like this; as anyone would, tossed almost naked (and somewhat afraid) into the wilderness! Indeed, we will eventually build a homestead replete with chickens, steam baths and fire pits. Until then, we wander.

I will write a complete Haven Review upon LiF:YO‘s release, including breakdowns and scoring…and then again next year when the MMO debuts! I eagerly await both.

-Chris Roberts-