RPG of the Year 2015: Legend of Grimrock

By Dave Neumann 18 Dec 2015 0
Speak friend and enter Speak friend and enter

Playing D&D with my friends during freshman year of high school. Sitting alone, late at night, on my dad's Apple IIe sneaking in a couple hours of The Bard's Tale and using a flashlight so I can map each dungeon square by square. Installing Eye of the Beholder II on the PCs in the college computer lab, sitting in the back row so I wouldn't get caught. These are the memories that playing Legend of Grimrock conjures up. It's the closest thing to an RPG time machine on the App Store, and the best RPG of 2015.

Legend of Grimrock is what the kids these days call "old-school". It hearkens back to the late 80's early 90's of CRPGs like Bard's Tale of Eye of the Beholder. Part of the screen is first-person dungeon, the rest is taken up with character information. The dungeons are Gygaxian in their design and this feeling is heightened as you wander around each level square by square.

Legend of Grimrock has an incredibly weak story. Scratch that. It has no story. You're basically thrown into a dungeon and told to escape. It's a dungeon crawl, pure and simple, but the game makes up for this lack of overarching narrative by giving each level in the labyrinth its own story consisting of monsters and puzzles. Each level will present you with a new challenge and it's the stories of how your intrepid group overcame those obstacles that will be sung by penny-a-song bards for years to come.

What the game lacks in fluff, it more than makes up for in crunch. There are a number of different classes and races to choose from each feeling very different that the others. Combat is a real-time affair, but has a turn-based feeling as timers tick off after each attack, allowing you to get into a rhythm of slashing and spellcasting. Unlike more modern RPGs, the loot is hard to come by. You won't get random drops of powerful equipment, instead, the more powerful tools are hidden waiting to be found by an observant player.

Legend of Grimrock merges modern tablet sensibilities with the fantastic RPGs of old, and does it almost perfectly. I said it in my review of Legend of Grimrock earlier this year: there's not a better RPG right now on the App Store.

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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