Legend of Grimrock II Review

Article Index

Eschalon: Book II

Developer:Almost Human Games
Release Date:2014-10-15
  • Role-Playing
Platforms: Theme: Perspective:
  • First-Person
Buy this Game: Amazon ebay

Special attacks on weapons also changed.  Instead of the attacks happening automatically whenever a character has enough energy for them, you can now select when they occur.  To do this, you have to "charge" the attack by holding down the right mouse button on a weapon.  Then when you release the button, you also release the attack.  This change only sorta-kinda worked for me.  I like choosing when special attacks happen, but the charging process is often slow, and the Grimrock games are all about making quick hits and avoiding damage, and so I didn't use them all that often.  For some reason, special attacks also frequently missed for me, making them even less desirable.

Finally, if you played the original Grimrock, then you no doubt remember "dancing" with your opponents.  If you got into a 2x2 area of the map with an enemy, then you could just move to the opposite corner from it, wait for it to move towards you, and then hit it and retreat to the opposite corner again, and repeat as necessary.  This allowed you to kill just about everything, provided there weren't multiple enemies around.

Well, apparently Almost Human didn't like this very much.  Enemies are much more likely to have ranged attacks now, many jump and dodge out of the way, the maps (even the outside ones) don't have many large areas to fight in, and enemies frequently come at you more than one at a time.  These changes make combat different and more difficult, and they require "dancing" of a different sort, as you frequently have to dodge and retreat while you look for a place where you can fight safely.

Grimrock II also has many more boss fights than the original Grimrock.  You encounter a boss creature on the very first map, and then you see them every few hours over the rest of the game.  The boss fights are challenging because they always involve multiple enemies, but there's also usually a trick to them so if you fight smartly, you can survive.  That being said, I didn't enjoy the final boss fight at all.  That's a fight where you almost have to know what's coming -- and build your party accordingly -- in order to defeat it.  My party wasn't especially great for it, and I had to load my game dozens of times to get through it.

To help you out with the increased difficulty of the combat, Almost Human made some changes to help keep the game playable.  For starters, each character can now have two weapon sets, which is useful because in some cases DPS is important, while in others big hits are better (there are also places where it's useful to keep a shovel or a harpoon as a backup weapon).  Characters no longer have to hit an enemy to get the full xp for it; all surviving characters get full xp no matter what, so you no longer have to fight sub-optimally so you can get everybody involved.  And resting is much faster now than it was in the first game.  Resting from nearly dead to full health only takes a few seconds, so there's not a lot of downtime while healing.

Unfortunately, other parts of the game didn't see the same improvements.  For example, potions can now be stacked, which is helpful, but you still have to go to the inventory page for a character, find the potion you want, and then right click on it to quaff it -- which isn't a lot of fun if you're in the middle of a fight and also trying to maneuver and attack.  If nothing else, opening the inventory page blocks a chunk of your view.  I'm sort of surprised that Almost Human didn't designate a couple of "belt slots" for characters, so the items would show up next to the character's portraits and be easier to use.  As it is now, Grimrock II's interface is still a little clunky to use, and the battles might prove a challenge to you if you don't have a good amount of manual dexterity.  I was pretty much at the limit of my clicking ability to get through the fights, which is a shame since the puzzle part of the game is slower and more thoughtful.


The puzzles in Grimrock II use a lot of the same mechanics as in the first game.  That is, they rely on levers, pressure plates, secret buttons, teleporters, trap doors, and grates, and they require you to decipher obscure clues and solve riddles.  If you played the original Grimrock, then you might wonder how there could possibly be dozens more of these types of puzzle -- and perhaps you might worry that you're only going to see the "leftovers" from the first game -- but the puzzles are great.  These days I almost exclusively play RPGs and adventures, and I'm usually pretty good at puzzles, but for a few of the ones in the game, I had to seek help.

As an example of a puzzle, at one point you come to something called the "Runemaster's Trial."  I'm going to give some information about this puzzle, so if you don't want to see it, then skip ahead to the next paragraph.  Anyway, the puzzle involves a 3x3 grid of pressure plates, a closed gate, and a magic "gun" that shoots spells.  Since runes are what you use to cast spells, and since they're presented in a 3x3 grid in the interface, and since the puzzle is showing you spells, there are plenty of hints to give you an idea about how to solve the puzzle -- and claim the prize on the other side of the gate.

Most of the puzzles have names, which is nice because that makes it much easier to search for information about them without seeing all sorts of other (and probably spoilerish) information.  The puzzles are also friendly in that they're not as action-oriented as they were in the original Grimrock, which had a lot of sequences where you'd have to press a button, then run to a temporarily closed trap door, then press another button, and so forth.  For the most part, if a lever or pressure plate closes a door in Grimrock II, then it stays closed until you do something else.  So the puzzles are more about being clever and solving problems rather than running around quickly.

Along with the puzzles, there are also numerous secrets in the game.  Some of the secrets are associated with puzzles, and so they're not too tough to find, but others reside in out of the way dark corners of the maps, and you have to explore carefully (scanning every wall for secret buttons) to find them.  Since Grimrock II takes place on an island, there are also some pirate-themed activities (ratlings are presented as pirates), which means you get to find treasure maps and dig for buried treasures.  I thought I was being pretty thorough in the game, but when I got to the end, I had only found about 80% of the secrets and treasures.