Grimsfield is not a typical game to review, it’s short, snappy and poignant. The black and white visuals ensure you aren’t distracted by anything that doesn’t matter. Large on-screen arrows will show you which ways you can go and the cursor is clear to show what objects you can interact with and those you can’t. It may be an adventure game, but you won’t be spending your time combining random objects or hammering the mouse, clicking on every single pixel trying to find something. In fact there isn’t even an inventory screen, your character will only use objects when needed. The story and the setting is what really matters here.
Set in a grim industrial town situated somewhere in the North of England, almost all the residents of Grimsfield know “their place” and mindlessly abide by the rules. Everyone except the edgy poets, storytellers and creatives of this world. That’s where you come in, Grimsfield delightfully tells the very simple story of a poet doing all he can to make it to the open mic night in the local club. Almost all the characters are ignorantly self-centred, they are willing to tell you their story, maybe even help you out a little bit but only to increase their own ego. It creates an oppressive world that makes you pleased you’re not apart of, however the regular interjection of humour never lets you feel down.
The scary thing about Grimsfield is that you never truly get to see the “bad guy” even the mayor of the town itself is probably the most humble character in the game. This place is “cursed” with a blanket of oppression that you can’t quite pin down. Someone, somewhere is in charge of all these social systems, systems where delivery men own skeleton keys to everyone’s house, and where it’s illegal to speak to category 3 level citizens. Why is everyone absent-mindedly going along with this horrible dystopia? Even a fellow story-teller character like yourself has been pigeon-holed into a system where his audience prefer a selfish personal story-arcs. Grimsfield makes you feel like you’re the outsider of an ecosystem where all these characters operate, everyone else has given up for a much more easier but unhappy existence. Maybe you’re just kidding yourself and you’ll give up like everyone else.
I want to make it very clear, while Grimsfield has a very depressing setting it certainly isn’t depressing to play. There is a level of intrigue here that keeps you strapped to your seat, eagerly awaiting the next bizarre situation or character. It manages to straddle the very difficult line of portraying the darker side of “Keep Calm and Carry On” with a comedic bounce in it’s step. The drab and grey English setting (metaphorically and literally) will undoubtedly appeal to British players. Also growing up in the North of England I found the setting and themes eerily relate-able, while I can only speak from that perspective Grimsfield might well be fascinating for someone who has never even visited the United Kingdom. Acting as grey window looking down onto the concrete apartments of the 80s, and how a slightly exaggerated version of this reality can be utterly hilarious and depressing in equal measure.
While the game itself can be easily finished in just over an hour, it’s surprisingly dense. In a similar respect to Gravity Bone or Dear Esther, multiple playthroughs will inspire a fascinating analysis of the world Adam Wells has conjured up, with an attempt to find out what it all means, or if it means anything at all. If you’re one of those people who likes to delve into a world and find meaning in the madness, this game will stay in your mind for quite some time to come.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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