Legend of Grimrock 2: Puts your brain between a rock and a grim place

Whether it’s a boss fight that’s just too hard or a fiendish puzzle that’s beyond our ken, there have been plenty of reasons during our gaming careers to put down the pad and step away from the screen (or throw it down a flight of stairs). In the first Grimrock, developer Almost Human managed to traipse delicately along the knife edge between fanatical outrage and blissfully rewarding progress, and it’s bottled lightning again in this maths-based RPG sequel.

For the uninitiated, Legend Of Grimrock’s initial pitch is unashamedly old fashioned. you’re in control of four adventurer cum prisoners, shackled together and forced to navigate as one. Two of your party, preferably melee focused toughies, can stand up front, while two more, magic and/or ranged attack centric by necessity, follow up behind. The world is built out of squares which you move around in a first-person view, again always as a quartet.

The first game was set within the oppressive dungeons of the titular mountain jail, a place which became as much a separate personality as it was a locale. This time you’re cast away on nex, a prison island complete with sunny beach fronts and looming forests. rather than simply open things up, nex enables this more visually varied sequel to tie its different locations together more coherently. you'll return to that open world again and again, but each of the dungeons you puzzle through feels tight, focused and invigoratingly oppressive.
“When your Brain cogs align you feel liKe indiana Jones fuelled With medieval red Bull”
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The puzzles play by far the biggest part in this. Expect hidden switches, caches of treasure secreted away, and some very good excuses to simply sit back and think about what you can see before you. There’s frustration by the sackful, but when your brain cogs align and the answer slots home, you feel like Indiana Jones fuelled with medieval red Bull.

Speaking of sacks, loot here almost always feels essential. Grimrock II is a hard game, with your fragile menagerie of heroes often facing tough opponents alongside an ever-depleting hunger meter, dwindling torch supplies and whatever status ailments the dungeons lob in their direction. The often essential items that can help you survive can also be used to weigh down switches on the floor. Early on you can simply slap a relatively useless stone down, but you’ll soon find yourself considering whether to drop a potentially life-saving chunk of tortoise meat, or perhaps even a weapon.

Combat is where Grimrock’s old school leanings let it down. Enemies are rightly challenging, providing for a sense of danger lurking around every corner. But too often fights become a back-stepping pantomime. In theory this should encourage you to know your environment, picturing how you can back up without finding yourself trapped against a wall with no escape. In practice, however, you’ll find yourself fighting the controls more than you do the enemies.

There’s no denying that Grimrock II requires effort from its players. you might even go through the pad-flinging throes of full on frustration. But the beauty is that you’ll always want to come back.

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