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Hands-on Preview -
Previewed on 4/21/07

GrimGrimoire is an upcoming RPG/RTS title with interesting presentation, and a story similar in concept to one previously told by Bill Murray. While one might have learned a few things from Michael's preview from the press event, this new one will tell more specifically about how the game plays.

To do anything in battle, one needs mana. This mana can be harvested by certain types of characters that the player can purchase (so logically, the player starts with a small amount of startup mana), then command to seek rune stones to set up harvesting operations. When some mana has been built up, other soldiers with different purposes and uses become available. For example, elves are good for mining mana, healing other units, or building defense towers; phantoms are pure fighters; fairies' flying ability and decent attack power make them good for scouting new areas or defending a passage.

Once the game moves a bit and battles become larger-scale, the player won't have much time to sit calmly and watch the soldiers duke it out. There will be a lot of things going on at once, several key places requiring a watchful eye, and all the while, new areas of the battle map being scouted out in search of the enemy's bases. Players can build new types of bases using their grimoires, and each type of base can only summon its own variety of units. It's fairly complex-sounding at first, but it all falls into place easily, and RTS players in particular shouldn't have any problem getting good at the game relatively quickly.

The story is told Fire Emblem-style, with characters appearing in a 2D setting, with no more than two or three on the screen at once. The presentation is kind of interesting, because these two-dimensional images are also visibly breathing. Meanwhile, complete heroin trips are going on the background, with super bright colors flashing and, like, unicorns and crap jumpin' around.

Players join main character Lillet on a quest to solve a murder and prevent the unsealing of an evil archmage, which the cast is aware of only because of a prophetic dream Lillet had on her first night at the magic academy. Her dream seemed so real, she thought she really lived five days at her new school, and was now reliving them. The events of her "previous five days" didn't really happen, but upon hearing her story, the professors of the magic school decide to take measure towards preventing the release of the archmage. At this point in the game (still pretty early), the story kind of feels like a classic Agatha Christie story, where the player is supposed to be all like "Hmm, should I suspect this person or not? Hmm, what really happened there?" and so on. Whether it will keep on that track or not is hard to tell right now.

For a game dubbed a sort of "Disney RTS" by its creators, there are some surprising sexual themes within the story, a lot of which surrounds one certain devil, who is a professor at the school and resident pedophile. I'm pretty sure I had him in fifth grade.

The pacing follows a pattern of showing a story chapter, then placing Lillet in a battle, repeat. In between, one can save, take on bonus challenges, or relive previous moments in the story. Either way, the main focus in a game like this is the battle system.

GrimGrimoire is pretty fun so far--not an amazing experience, but a good one for sure. At this time, it's hard to say whether veterans and fans of RTS games such as Warcraft or Command and Conquer would be very into this title, but hopefully that will make itself clear in time for our review next month. The game is due out in June.



-Heath Hindman