Legend of Grimrock offers a modern RPG with old school inspiration

Hearkening back to the great RPGs of yesteryear, the upcoming Legend of Grimrock promises fans of classic dungeon crawling a healthy dose of that old, familiar magic.

Legend of Grimrock takes its cue from old-school computer RPGs like Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder, putting players in charge of a customizable four-person party desperately trying to escape a massive, multi-level dungeon carved out of the stone of Mount Grimrock. The only way out is through lethal traps and deadly monsters, all determined to bring this prisoners’ journey to a quick and unhappy end.

Everything is played from the first-person perspective, but unlike most modern first-person RPGs Legend of Grimrock is grid-based, which means that moving across the map is essentially like moving from square to square on a big piece of grid paper. For many players, this will likely be the most unusual feature of the game, but while it looks strange and demands a certain adjustment of tactics, it’s a tried-and-true system that’s actually very manageable and quite elegant. It’s also a big part of the game’s optional and decidedly hardcore “Oldschool Mode,” which disables the automap and leaves it up to the players to chronicle the journey themselves with pencil and paper.

Legend of Grimrock

Legend of Grimrock

Combat in Legend of Grimrock will be conducted in real-time, which means that despite its slow-paced and even clunky appearance, battles should be intense, rapid-fire affairs. The game isn’t all about swinging swords and casting spells, however, as its creators note that the emphasis is on puzzles and exploration, and that “the wits and perception of the player are more important tools than even the sharpest of swords could be.”

This game looks fantastic, particularly for the old-timers who miss the simple glory of an old-fashioned dungeon romp. As one of that crowd, I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Legend of Grimrock launches on April 11, but can be preordered now for a 20% discount off the regular release price.