The PS3 is finally getting some downloadable PS2 games, and one of the first is GrimGrimoire. The game was released in 2007, and garnered a cult following. I honestly had never played the game before, so this was a totally new experience for me. Does the game hold up? Let’s find out.
You play as Lillet Blan, a new student at the Magic Academy who has just arrived on campus. She meets a large number of colorful characters that she will be spending the school year with. The game plays out over a span of 5 days. After the fifth day, she wakes up to almost every person in the academy dead. Just before she is killed herself, she is propelled back in time, Groundhog Day style, and forced to re-live the past five days over and over again. During this time, she needs to learn new magic spells (Grimoires), uncover the truth behind the academy and figure out how to stop the massacre.
The game is a real-time strategy game. Now, I know what you’re thinking, RTS’s don’t work on the consoles. Well, GrimGrimoire may be the first real exception. The battles play out in the halls of the academy. You are tasked, usually, with destroying the enemies’ runes. You have to balance sending troops to attack enemy runes while guarding your own. Most actions cost mana. You can send workers to gather mana at crystals and have them bring it back to your rune for consumption. After obtaining mana, you can summon different types of units at your runes. You can also level up runes so that they can produce better, stronger units. Units can come in the form of workers, attackers, guards and more.
The map is blacked out until you send your troops to investigate areas, so you never know what might be just around the corner. This is not only a thinking game, but one that keeps you on your toes. One wrong move, and you could suffer majorly for it, but if you play intelligently, and think things out, you can come out on top. The game features a very good tutorial and easy to understand controls that allow the player to do with a controller pretty much anything you can do with a mouse and keyboard. It’s very user-friendly.
The game features 4 categories of magic, each with strengths and weakness to each other. There is Glamour, Necromancy, Sorcery, and Alchemy. Through the tutorials and training, you’ll have to learn how and when to use each type. The game is very much trial and error. There will be plenty of times where you will get completely demolished and say “Well, I guess that was the wrong way.” It wouldn’t be so bad if some of the combat missions didn’t last upwards of 30 to 40 minutes. It’s heartbreaking to lose right at the end after spending almost 45 minutes in a battle. The biggest problem with this feature is the fact that you can’t save mid-battle. So, if you are 30 minutes into a battle, and your buddy calls to see if you want to hang out, you either have to wait to finish the mission or quit and lose your progress.
The art style is one of beauty. The colorful characters and very unique hand-drawn look make this game a stand out. The game’s story plays out in cut scenes with the characters semi-animated with dialog voiceovers. The voice acting is very well done, and the story itself can become just as complex as the combat, but the premise is very compelling.
As for the PS3 functionally, it has absolutely none. It would have been nice to have the game in HD, especially with the colorful art style. This game is a PS2 port through and through. Although I’m not taking away from the game for it, it would have been nice to at least have it in widescreen high definition.
GrimGrimoire is an RTS that really works on the consoles. It has a surprisingly deep story as well as some pretty complex combat scenarios. The game can become brutal at times and very unforgiving, but if you’re up for the challenge, it can be a very rewarding game. The story is very interesting and the overall aesthetic is very nice. A game this deep for only $10 is a pretty big steal. If you have never played the game before and are looking for a unique experience, I’d say give it a try.
Review copy provided by publisher.