GrimGrimoire PS2 Review

Real Time Strategy games often take place in either a real lifelike or science fiction setting, most are deadpan serious. Sometimes we have to wonder why developers of such games don’t craft something a little more cheery from time to time. Something with funny little imps and a sense of humour for once. GrimGrimoire just so happens to fit that description.

GrimGrimoire is a little richer in story than a lot of similar games. It sees Lillet Blan, arriving at a school of magic to study. After meeting many of the colourful characters and getting a couple of valuable tutorials, things begin to go rather awry, when the Archmage’s seal is broken (as many will know broken seals are always a bad thing) and as a result of this, all of those likeable oddball characters are wiped out with Lillet being the sole survivor. In a bizarre twist though, the game goes back five days before this event ever took place and you then keep reliving these days over and over, leaving it up to Lillet to prevent this catastrophe from coming around again. Ok so it’s not all fun and games, but in spite of this dark premise there is plenty of charming humour throughout.

It may be an RTS, but GrimGrimoire has even more surprises, besides its unusually substantial storyline.

The graphics are perhaps the biggest surprise. Not only does it feature cartoonish and lovingly detailed hand-drawn sprites, but it’s also of the 2D variety, which is a bold move in this day of bump mapping and polygons. It’s also not always an ideal perspective for such a game, but we’ll get to that a bit later on, so bear with us.

Units are summoned through runes, twelve of these can be placed around the battlefield and many units can then be brought into play, providing of course you have the necessary mana to do so. These runes can also be levelled up with mana, allowing you to summon stronger classes of allies to aid you, as well as gaining new abilities.

To summon units and carry out many other actions in GrimGrimoire you must get particular classes of characters to farm mana. There are many different units each with their own strengths and weaknesses to think about, and deploying the correct units to take on the current enemies in the course of a battle is the key to victory. For example if there are ghosts about, sending faeries to take them on, would be futile, but unleash the dragon and you’ll quickly see a difference and yes, lots of destroyed ghosts. But even these uber monsters have weaknesses, not least of which is the fact that when you initially deploy them, they first must hatch from their egg, which takes a considerable amount of time and of course you must protect them from enemy attacks.

Due to the sheer amount of units that are often crammed on the screen and the game’s old fashioned flat perspective, as you would imagine things can get a bit confusing from time to time. Vanillaware, the developer of the game, have tried to get around this by allowing you to cycle through units and select all of any given unit by dragging the cursor over them. It works, but it’s not always ideal and does remind us why RTS developers most often opt for the less obtrusive third dimension, even though most of the time, it just doesn’t offer the same appeal that sprite based games do.

The controls as a whole are more than adequate, but we do feel that the game would also have benefited from shortcuts to allow you to immediately jump to units who’re in trouble for example, or runes to perhaps summon that mighty unit that could have saved you from defeat. Repetitive level design is also one of the game’s greatest faults and makes an already repetitive experience even more so.

But it’s hard not to have some love, for what is an unusually humorous game for the genre, one that features comical imps and mental characters, and more importantly it’s hard not to have some love for a well crafted game. Even so there’s no doubting that GrimGrimoire is a good game that without it’s problems, could have been something even more than the end result.