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Posted by GG Goblin On May - 14 - 2019

A retro JRPG with a rifle-wielding Badger. Why not?

While everything evolves, video games included, it is not always for the best, and sometimes it can be nice to go back to how things were. Talerock’s Grimshade is an RPG that has obviously been influenced by the JRPGs of the ’90s and will happily take the player back to a simple time when hours could be invested in an ever-more complex plot and a group of interesting, complicated characters. At least, this seems to have been the plan with Grimshade, but the reality is not quite there.

grim1 (Copy)

Set in a Steampunk world where two Human nations are at war and a race of anthropomorphic animals are stuck in the middle, players will get thrown into the thick of it as a warrior comes across a magic-wielding boy. Along the way, the group will pick up yet more interesting characters and the team will grow, with each character having their role to play in what becomes a fairly regular race to sort out everything that is wrong in the world. Yeah, it’s not really anything that new in this respect, but it is laid out well and will keep the player moving from one objective to the next. The characters are all interesting, if a bit on the serious side, and each brings their own skills to the team, giving the player plenty of choice when it comes to any encounters. I am not going to say that the writing is brilliant, but it certainly does the job.

The world itself is quite impressive. There is a lot going on in this world, what with the current troubles and the way the Anthropomorphic creatures are somewhat oppressed. The backgrounds are hand-crafted and very nice to look at, with some beautiful architecture and a great variety of different settings. The visuals for the various characters, enemies and NPCs are a little less convincing, with a cel-shaded style that doesn’t quite emulate the quality of the backdrops. Then there are the portraits that feel even more out of place.

Gameplay-wise, Grimshade will be very familiar to anyone who has played an older JRPG. Players will wander around the world, picking up quests and talking to a nice variety of NPCs, all while working out where they need to go next and finding the occasional treasure, along with the obligatory random encounters. The system of progression for the characters is a little different in Grimshade, in that there is no experience or levelling up. Instead, characters get better abilities, stats and the like from equipping new gear. This is great when it comes to characters that the player may not be using very often, as the player can only have four active characters. This means that lesser used characters can be kept as powerful as needed. The obvious downside here though is that gaining experience and levelling up is part of the reward for completing encounters, and without that the numerous battles that the player gets into can feel, well, unrewarding.

grim2 (Copy)

Which brings us to the battle system. Rather than the standard turn-based method that is common in this genre, where the team and their opponents line up opposite each other, Grimshade employs a grid-based system where positioning is just as important as what ability is used. Each character can use one skill each turn, giving rise to a nice sense of strategy when taking into account the different ranges and effects of different skills. The encounters can be tricky, even on the easiest difficulty, and players will need to ensure that their team is well healed after each battle using expensive medicines, which can then make further battles even more difficult if the player hasn’t stocked up enough. The boss fights are a real stand out in the game, but will often require very specific approaches, taking away some of the freedom from the player.

There is a healthy tutorial at the beginning of the game that will give players most of the information they need to play. There are also a variety of difficulty levels to choose from, although anything more than the easiest will prove to be a struggle with far more powerful enemies and the chance of picking up long-term injuries for your characters. There is a crafting system that feels slightly underused, and a home base of sorts to rest up and get the characters back into fighting shape, although this does mean more random encounters on leaving.

grim3 (Copy)

Grimshade is a mixed bag RPG. While the story is interesting, it does become difficult to actually care about any of the characters, and the background visuals are lovely, the characters and such are merely adequate. Then there is the excellent battle system that suffers from an unfair level of difficulty at times. The developers may well fix much of what ails Grimshade over the coming months, at which point it will be a very nice RPG with tactical, turn-based combat. Right now though, there are as many things to enjoy in Grimshade as to get annoyed about.




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