Grim Dawn is a Hack ‘n’ Slash RPG with looting from a top down perspective. It’s developed by Crate Entertainment and started development back in 2012 through kickstarter. The game surpassed its goal by over $100,000, and the first Alpha version went up in May 2013. The second chapter in the third act then released in February 2015, and the recent version included the Arcanist class. The game looks very similar to Diablo 3, which is one of my favourite games, but does Grim Dawn match up?
The game is set in Cairn after the event known as Grim Dawn. The human race has almost been wiped out and watch on as the Aetherials and Chthonians fight against each other. Both races are bad news for the remaining humans, as one wants the bodies for resources whilst the other want to wipe humans out completely. You play as a human, in a world that is dangerous, unruly and truly horrifying. There is a story throughout the game, but it doesn’t force it upon you. If you want more background and context you can read scripts located throughout the world. The game starts at Devil’s Crossing prison, which has become a stronghold for human refugees at the beginning of the game, just outside of Burrwitch Village and Burwitch Estates.
Like with most games you start by selecting your character, being Male or Female. Unfortunately, there is no customisation, which is a real shame and something I would have liked to have seen included. You venture out with nothing but your sword and shield and along the way you slowly start to gather various items and equipment. It’s not long though before you start to find plenty of different weapons, like pistols, swords, rifles and many others. The game has six base classes that all have slightly different attributes. These include the Soldier, Demolitionist, Nightblade, Occulist, Arcanist and Shaman. Once you reach level ten, which doesn’t take too long, you can then select a second class. Grim Dawn has an interesting upgrade mechanic known as the Devotion system. As you fight your way through shines you unlock sill trees, or constellations. The points you gain can be used to unlock boosts and new combat abilities. What’s nice about this system is that you can use as many as you like during gameplay. This is great as you can build up a character that best suits your playstyle.
Throughout the game, you will come across component parts. These can be added to armour and weapons and increase stats. These components can also be combined in order to create much more powerful and effective items. You can also go on to unlock the Blacksmith, who is very useful and allows you to use components to craft more powerful equipment.
Like Diablo 3 the combat feels awesome, with addictive action and responsive controls. The game starts out easy enough but before long multiple enemies can be coming at you from all angles and the game becomes about managing attacks and movement. The skills and abilities you use are varied, interesting and all feel hugely satisfying. I started by using a mouse and keyboard but changed to using a controller as I felt it was easier to play that way. It has key binding within the game which is nice as this means you can use multiple skills during the action. You can also use melee attacks against enemies but using ranged attacks is far more effective at clearly out hordes of enemies in your way.
The game does have quests and objectives but these are pretty standard. They mainly consist of finding objects, people or rescue missions. The game does a nice job of having story elements riddled throughout the world and I found myself stopping to read notes and take in as much as possible. Also talking to characters throughout the world will also add more depth and interesting information if you choose to talk to them.
I played the game on normal difficulty as I like to play the game as the developed intended it to be played. The amount of enemies vastly increases and become much harder as you progress and you will also face larger boss fights that can prove to be quite challenging.
Grim Dawn is certainly a game that requires exploration as there are many passages, hidden paths and areas to discover. The more time you spend searching and exploring, the more loot, items and important equipment you will find. You can venture into crumbling buildings and abandoned houses to find interesting scripts and equipment that will help you on your journey. There are also dungeons to explore, which see you descending deep into dark and gloomy corridors. You will need to find keys in order to progress and the enemies can get extremely challenging. It can be worth it though, as loot you find will hugely benefit you as you progress through the world. Grim Dawn‘s four acts means that there is a huge amount to explore and I have to say that I haven’t finished the game, but I certainly will be spending a lot more time playing through it and exploring all there is to be seen. The game really feels like a fully realised world with depth and design.
The presentation of the game is great and very much takes inspiration from the Diablo series. The game is played from an isometric top-down perspective, that has smooth gameplay and impressive world design. I also really enjoyed the varied enemy design and large boss battles. The environments are varied and feel ‘lived in’ and it liked being able to explore large open areas as well as venturing into more claustrophobic buildings and dungeons. The sound design is also fantastic and suits the gloomy and oppressive atmosphere that saturates the game.
Overall I absolutely loved my time with this game. I’m a massive fan of the Diablo games and therefore was a bit skeptical when starting Grim Dawn. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at just how good this game was. The world design is imaginative and visually impressive, there is a strong narrative if you wish to learn about it and the gameplay feels fun and addictive. There is plenty to explore and the upgrading mechanics and abilities offer a lot of depth and customisation. It’s certainly worth giving a go and I would suggest you check it out if you like the Diablo games.
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