A dark indie platformer with physics-based puzzles, but sadly falls short from being great. So close, yet so far.
|Genre||Platformer, puzzle, horror, indie|
|Purchase (PC/Mac/Linux)||Purchase from Steam.|
So Halloween is just around the corner and I think I can sneak in another game before the SOMA review and end my recollection of the Frictional Games catalog.
The funny story about this one is that I found out about this one from a Markiplier video, right when the game was still a demo. It looked very interesting so I decided to get the full version of the game later on.
Grimind is the first release by Polish indie developer Pawel Mogila. It is a 2D puzzle platformer with dark themes associated with it. Though referred to as a “horror” game, it’s not really scary in the traditional sense. It is more to do with the more gruesome depictions present in the game, mainly through how the main character dies.
The game, in some ways, is reminiscent of LIMBO, using black silhouettes to represent objects in the foreground and midground as part of the art style. However, the game also mixes in all sorts of colors with some bright lighting to give a neat little underground world.
You play as an unknown creature—who looks like a mix between an armadillo and a hedgehog—and navigate through the large, mysterious caverns while solving puzzles along the way. Not only you move pretty fast and you jump quite high, your secondary ability is to grab objects such as vines, boxes and orbs. This gives the game a reasonably fast pacing and allows you to take in the sights and solve puzzles without overstaying your welcome.
While the art style is initially neat, there’s not much variety in the environments. It’s always the same caverns throughout the game, only with different lighting through each level. Still, it’s pretty to look at. It’s like wandering into a dense jungle if it were a cavern. And with colorful lights.
Overall, I find the puzzles to be quite fun, even they tend to be too simple. Most of them involve orb collection, memorizing sequences, or just some simple physics. They’re not terribly difficult for the most part and you can get through the game just fine without having to bash your head against the wall for a couple of hours.
There are “secret spots” you can find throughout the game, some of which are amusing little Easter eggs. There isn’t much of a point in finding them as it barely affects the last level of the game, though you earn Steam achievements through them.
One annoying thing I found while playing the game is that it doesn’t seem to work well with my Logitech F710 gamepad. But the game appears to be better utilized for the mouse and keyboard, so I don’t consider this to be a big detriment.
However, there are two major flaws to the game: the enemy AI and the story.
The main enemy creatures, who are these little square-shaped, red-eyed imps that thrive in the darkness, are overpowered. They move just as fast as you—if not faster—and a single one can kill you in two seconds. There are also some sections of the game where they can ambush you if you wander into the wrong areas. Once these particular ambushes have been provoked, it’s impossible to escape them and it results in a cheap death.
And the major problem here is that once one of them stands on your head, it stays latched on like an alien sucking on your brain and it will not come off. This causes damage to stack up real quickly and kill you. There is no Mercy Invincibility when you get hit. It may not be necessary for a game like this, but you can hardly put up a fighting chance against any one of these enemies. I’m not sure if this is intentional or if it’s a glitch.
It gets even more ridiculous when a group of them works together and stands on top of each other in a tower pattern to reach you.
This proves that even the sky isn’t the limit for these guys. Even when you’re up in high places, it’s still difficult to avoid them.
Their main weakness is light, which you can use against them by luring them into brightly lit areas. In some sections of the game, you may also acquire a special red orb that emits bright light whenever you throw it. At first, it’s confusing to figure out that these orbs are a weapon. Every orb up to that point is used as pieces of a puzzle rather than for combat, so this is definitely jarring.
Still, you need to get the trajectory of your throws just right so that they close in on the enemies. Otherwise, you’re pretty much dead already.
And of course, the story. Well…
The basic story is that you’re a creature who has no idea who or what he is or what his purpose in life is. While in the caverns, he figures out two things:
- He wants to get out of these caverns.
- The square-shaped imps are out to kill him.
And that’s really it. We never learn that much about our main character but somehow we’re sort of expected to care for him. There is one section in the game where he can turn into some energy being. However, there is no explanation on why he could do this. Needless to say, not many people are going to care for a character with a vague motive and backstory.
Along the way, he meets an energy being that appears to be kind to him and will like to help him escape. Or so it seems. Towards the end of the game, the energy being decides that it wants to kill the main character off… for no reason whatsoever.
Basically, it comes out like this: “I decided I don’t like you, so you must die. Fuck you. Ha ha.” It would help a little bit if this villain had some sort of ulterior motive or even a goal in mind. But if there was one, it was never explained. So this really comes off as pointless.
The main character eventually kills the energy being as revenge. But in the last level, the dark imps end up killing off the main character and that’s it. No resolution to whatever the main character set out to do. No ending narration or dialogue. It’s really the most abrupt video game ending I’ve experienced lately. In the end, the story is unnecessary and just comes across as awkwardly executed. The game would probably benefit better without it and just lean on its visuals for its contextual storytelling, just as LIMBO did.
But if you’re not expecting a story-heavy game, you can still enjoy the game despite this hard-to-overlook flaw.
So if you’re quite a persistent player and can stand some frustration from the enemies, this is a neat little indie game to add to your collection. It’s 15 levels in total and you can complete it in a few hours. Playing in the dark really does make the environments stand out more, so you can also get a visual treat and take in the atmosphere as you play.
- The puzzles are simple and only require some attention to details rather than looking for unusual solutions.
- While the environments can get repetitive, they are pretty to look at and getting immersed while playing in the dark is easy.
- The enemy AI is overpowered, which can lead to many cheap, frustrating deaths.
- The bare bones story doesn’t go anywhere.