GrimGrimoire Review

Not too long ago, Vanillaware struck gold with a game I loved to death, Odin Sphere. The quirky 2D world and the memorable characters combined with a tried and true but innovative combat system was a blast, and a very refreshing game at the end of the PS2’s lifespan. At that time I had already gotten my hands on an early build of GrimGrimoire, and I could tell that they were possibly the next Clover. The title may not be entirely accurate, but if someone wants to call them that-well, I won’t dispute it. 

Like Odin Sphere, GrimGrimoire takes on a genre we’ve seen time and time again, but mixes old- and new-school to make it fresh. This time around it’s the RTS world. Describing how the game plays is complicated fare, as you really have to see it to believe it. At its very basic essence, I would have to describe it as a 2D, sidescrolling RTS game with elements of Lemmings and Worms.

To start off, you have your grimoires, which are basically spellbooks. There are four types of spells (necromancy, glamour, sorcery and alchemy), and each of those types has three grimoires, for a total of 12. Using the grimoires you place runes on the battlefield, which allows you to create varying types of units. In a simple to learn, hard to master format, each type of magic is strong against another, and weak against another, making battles play out like some more complex form of Pokemon.

The battle mechanics may not be as involving as NIS fans are used to, but they do the job. Players who put a lot of time into the game will obviously be better than the newbies, but it’s very friendly to casual gamers. Thankfully, the combat isn’t the core of the game.

What is the core, you may ask? Well, the story! Unlike many popular and successful games these days, there’s no doubt that Grim’s success comes from the wonderful tapestry woven by the writing crew. What starts out seeming like Harry Potter for little girls quickly takes a turn for the more complex, and as the game progresses new characters are introduced, new plot twists are revealed, and new challenges appear.

The way the story unfolds may seem a little corny (it is the plot of Groundhog Day, as I’m sure everyone knows by now), but it works. The time factor does make it difficult to remember which person is which and what’s going on, but a feature allowing you to relive the cutscenes and refresh the story is a great help to clear up the cobwebs.

The cast of characters in the game is also awesome. While you have the typical hero figure and the elderly wizard we all already know, you also have the sexpot teacher, weird animal-like people, ghosts, fallen angels, elves, and more. There are creepy people, funny people, sad people, and normal people. The cast of the game is very memorable; if I had to compare the two, I would say I was more drawn in by the characters of this title than Odin Sphere. If you loved the character interaction and story of that game, you’ll absolutely be enthralled by this one.

Despite the incredible writing and solid gameplay, GrimGrimoire does have a few faults. Perhaps its biggest fault is the level of time needed to play the game. With a casual-friendly battle system, having fights last upwards of an hour seems like an odd choice. The repeating day mechanism also makes for some very familiar fights throughout the game, and the simple combat mechanisms can be boring for the hardcore gamers.

In the end, despite the shortcomings I’d have to recommend GrimGrimoire to friends and gamers who enjoy any other NIS title, or Odin Sphere. The gameplay is solid enough to pass, but the story, characters, and visuals are just fantastic. It really does convince me that Vanillaware is worth watching in the future. The game doesn’t do a lot to get rid of NIS’s claim to niche-dom like some were hoping, but I don’t mind. Honestly, why change what works?


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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