14 reviews liked by ludol


The first Legend of Grimrock was a game that I learned about mostly through accident when I saw it on a Youtuber's channel a little after it came out. I picked it up and ended up loving it way more than I thought I could love a game like that. I was extatic when I heard a sequel was coming out, so as I usually do, I proceeded to wait years to even pick it up and then longer to even give it a go. All the talk around this month's FPDC theme for TR gave me all the motivation I needed to finally give it a go, and I'm so glad I did! Grimrock 2 is everything about the first game cranked up a few notches. I played on normal difficulty with ironman saving (couldn't save other than at save points, so no quick save/quick load) and it took me around 23 hours.

Legend of Grimrock is a series of first person dungeon crawlers very much in homage to games like Lands of Lore. Grid-based, first person movement is the name of the game as you kite around monsters, hunt walls for secret buttons, and solve brain-bending puzzles in an effort to escape the island you've been marooned on. I really only have experience in the genre with the Grimrock games, so this review will basically only talk about them in relation to one another.

The main thing that separates Grimrock 2 from 1 is that the game is far less linear because of the island setting. Grimrock 1 took place entirely inside a giant tower you were descending, and had a very linear map design as a result. Even if you backtracked a little at times, you were always going towards the goal of finding the real exit to that particular floor. Grimrock 2 has a giant island to explore where you're hunting for gems of power to unlock the giant castle in the middle. You can go to almost anywhere on the island as soon as you're done with the starting area, so the game has a very non-linear feel to it in comparison to its predecessor. This led to me spending hours just following the next little clue, the next passageway, a new piece of loot. The expanded, non-linear map really gave the game a flair of exploration the previous game lacked, which I really loved. The only down-side to this is that, at least on normal mode, there were some areas I'd go to and get fucking destroyed by the monsters in while some I'd go to and have no problem at all. Some of that I think was down to thematic reasons (of course the pyramid has mummies, even though they suck), but it definitely felt like the enemy balance wasn't exactly perfect. I never felt like I was in an unwinnable situation though. It just took getting slightly more crafty with how I handled enemies in that area, as even the weaker enemies always had stronger, scarier friends not too far behind x3

You make a party of four characters of five different races each with their own racial perks, pick some starting abilities for them, and give them a class. The cool thing about Grimrock 2 is that your class only very slightly restricts what you can actually do in the game, as it really only influences the permanent stat boosts you get when you level up as well as some other small passives (like how only alchemists can have herbs grow in their inventory, or only farmers level up by eating food instead of fighting monsters). Any character can level up any skill as easier as any other, so any class can effectively wield any equipment if you decide to level them that way. Want a wizard who can wear heavy armor? You can do that! A berserker who can cast spells? As long as he has a wand to use, he can do that! Most weapons also have a special move that can be used by holding down the button for them, so even non-caster characters get a chance to have mana as a valuable resource now :)

The puzzles in this game are damn hard. There was only one, maybe two puzzles I had to look up in the original Grimrock, but there were at least half a dozen or more I had to for this game. They're all online, often with hints followed by the actual solution, which was nice, but they really cranked up the amount of vague hints you need to decipher or environmental clues you gotta gather to understand how to get through an area Xp

Verdict: Highly Recommended. Legend of Grimrock was a fantastic homage to old FPDC's, and the sequel expands on its mechanics in ideas in just about only good ways. If you like FPDC's, you will probably love this game. If you just like RPG's or adventure games, you'll probably like this game as well. It's a fantastic modern entry to the genre that I can't recommend well enough :D

If you've seen my backloggd profile or know me any amount, you would know that The Talos Principle is my favorite game of all time. A game that's fundamentally changed the way I interact with this medium and also just, changed my life in general honestly, so to say I was excited at the prospect of a sequel is an understatement.

The common throughline for me is that most of the game just feels underbaked. Doesn't feel like enough is given the time of day to shine, and just when it starts to get nearly close to as good as the first game, it's basically over. The gold door puzzles are without a doubt the best 12 levels in the game, which sucks because the final level is just as underdeveloped as the rest of the game is. Having one gimmick per area doesn't really allow for any of them to develop nearly as much as the 5 gimmicks of the main game, leading to worlds that all feel like tutorials for the new gimmick and nothing more.

The stars are almost completely neutered, with maybe 2 of them capturing the same feeling as the original stars in interacting with the world as much as I can in order to solve a macro scaled puzzle that leads me to the star. The prometheus and sphinx stars are especially weak, considering the former are all chase sequences and the latter being extremely bare bones find and interact a little thingy to get the star.

The story, while still good in its own right, doesn't come nearly as close to as good as the first game. Where the original had its told almost entirely through subtext, with the more juicy and frankly important elements all being essentially optional, this game does the opposite and pushes it as much as possible, to where it's the central focus of the game, which doesn't work nearly as well. The overwhelming mass of characters feels painfully unnecessary, especially when only like 2 of them actually matter in the end, with the rest only existing to exist and throw occasional quips at you (although I do like how each character does have their own political viewpoints and that its cool to see how each character interprets the current situation and what they think makes sense as a next move).

Overall, I really expected more than what was received, which in all fairness is partly my fault. Going in with the expectation of a game being the sequel to my literal favorite game is too high, but too much here feels like they're desperately trying to fix something that wasn't ever broken.

This review contains spoilers

This game is significantly more polished than the first game, but I think they need to trim some of it. The puzzles are generally a little easier, which is okay, but there were too many of them given how easy they are. By the end of the game, I was ready for it to be done, and not in a completely good way. I like the final pass getting the golden doors, but leading up to the golden puzzled, I felt like I was doing chores more than engaging in puzzle solving.
On the other hand, the game introduces some fascinating new tools. The different types of beam connectors are fascinating and have so much potential. I absolutely loved the body switching mechanics. I wished they would have gotten more devious with their puzzles to really probe the depths of what you can do with them. It sounds like there will be a dlc which does that very thing. Even though I wanted to be done with the base game, more difficult puzzles in the dlc that take advantage of the fascinating new mechanics will definitely bring me back to the game.
The philosophy of this game has an interesting premise, but I think they tried too hard with it. The game has a lot more dialog partners built into simply because there is a whole community of npcs that you hear from. The community of npcs is both a strength and a weakness. It is a weakness because it ends up connecting some of the thoughts for you. The first game does an excellent job of letting you explore a multitude of options at your own pace with your own reactions. The Talos Principle II sometimes gets in its own way of letting you make the connections. At the same time, the multitude of npcs allows more views to be expressed and different angles to appear in the game.

The philosophy of the second game is more pragmatic than the first. It struggles through ethical questions regarding resource consumption and proper treatment of the earth. I think it strawmans the side that says we need to limit our resource consumption, but that might be because of the choices I made. The middle road was not appealing to me, but the road that embraced human growth was also too anthrocentric for me. I don't find humans to be the epitome of the cosmos and the ones who need to reshape everything. Other animal consciousness deserves more consideration in their own unique ways of knowing. I still wouldn't say that a frog is a personbecause personhood is an anthrocentoc concern. A frog's life is valuable and needs to be respected for the life it is, not how similar a frog is to humans.

Because I am a biblical scholar, I have to mention the biblical imagery. The first game relies heavily on the Hebrew Bible. I was pleasantly surprised when the second game makes clear references to the New Testament, even as it maintains respect for the Hebrew Bible in its context. The myth of the found and the twelve first companions hits really close to home with biblical scholarship's questions around the historical Jesus. The way the game talks about the power of myth is fascinating.

All in all, though the premise of the second game is more grounded, it's conclusions seemed too transcendent and disconnected. On the other hand, the premise of the second game was more abstract, but the conclusions were much more direct and relatable. I'm glad I played the cm second game, but the first is the true masterpiece.

Shout out to Miltohim. I am now a Miltohim stan. I don't usually play games for humor, but I laughed hard when I found him. It was completely worth plugging myself into the somnodrome.

Mostly gimmicky encounters. Nice shift from traditional Doom Eternal game loop, but I don't feel like replaying it. Sentinel hammer is cool and powerful, but it gets old, when you can just mindlessly nuke the area to release tension.
Final boss sucks.

Resident Evil Village is deserving of its praises for being an above competent and enjoyable game. Personally, I found it to be a better experience interpreting Ethan Winter's to be a dumbass who just doesn't know what he's doing, with the writer's being completely self-aware of how dumb he is. With this perspective, he becomes such a funny and entertaining character throughout the whole experience.

Ixion

2022

You know those old Sierra adventure games where you were screwed if you didn't pick up some random thing at the beginning to solve a puzzle at the end? Ixion is like that in city builder form.

Unlike some other city builders Ixion is divided into levels where your progress carries over. It sucks when after working for twenty hours you realize you simply cannot continue working on your space station because of something you didn't do, or mine, or properly build in the first level, and you have to start all over again.

It's not that this game is difficult, it's that this game is unreasonably difficult. Time limits are razor thin, the AI for the cargo hauling robots is stupid, and even if you memorize the location of all the resources and build everything in the most space efficient way the game might bug out on you and people will refuse to pick up food and starve to death. I just wanted to have fun building a space station, not be penalized for taking too long designing the layout.

what an incredibly underwhelming and irritating experience. functionally awful from a gameplay standpoint, fisheye lens breaks the game once you get it outside of the objectives that require other lens, and most of those end up becoming egregious scavenger hunts with slow movement speeds and ugly environments. most of the objectives require abysmally specific placement with how you take pictures of things, while also most others are ostensibly broken and wont let you by even though you absolutely took a picture of the thing that was needed (i had to take a picture of the word "cops" and the game absolutely wouldnt let me go by unless i took a picture so fucking up close to the word that it wasnt even visible anymore).

the "story" is vague gen zed doomer stuff played out through environment only, but like others have said, there is no way to be invested in any of this because there is no emotional connection here, outside of the similarities of neoliberalism in reality. a lot of what this game tackles is surface level and doesnt actually bother getting into the roots of anything.

This game drops the ball on interesting plot threads about as often as it drops Deus Ex Machinas to get the protagonist out of the corners they write him in.

A definition of wasted potential. Could've been a pretty awesome vehicle combat RPG, but i reckon execs wanted everything made in ubisoft fashion, absolutely unnecessary third person "combat" and "exploration" of "thrilling" outposts. Cut this crap out, put all the effort into making the car part feel good and honestly you could've gotten something really special here. Story is also pretty redundant and not interesting. Few years later and i can barely remember what was the plot about.

this game looks like ass and the balance is all fucked up but goddamn it does shooting to the beat feel like the coolest shit ever