So, my dear reader, do you enjoy the idea of constructing a base, defenses, and units with which to assault your foes? Such a question might bring Warcraft or Command and Conquer to mind, might it not? Well, how about mythological creatures? Do you like those? I’m talking dragons, unicorns, golems, demons, spirits, the works. What if these two were combined, and a dash of brilliant artwork were to be added. A huge dash.
That would be GrimGrimoire, another Vanillaware artistic masterpiece of a game. It’s visually gorgeous and plot-centric with easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics and memorable characters. With four factions to choose from- well, not that you really have to choose, seeing as you could play all four of them at once if you so desired- there is a wide variety of units and structures to build in order to optimize your force. But let’s hold off on the gameplay aspect until we cover a bit of the plot first. Just enough to make you curious, kay?
This dramatic tale revolves around the young aspiring magician Lillet Blan, who has vowed to take up the art of runic summoning in order to help her little brothers back in her home in the country. To her delight, she has been accepted into the Silver Star, a renowned magic academy watched over by the great wizard Gammel Dore. Over the course of five days, Lillet Blan experiences and learns more magic than anyone else could in a year. How is this possible?
The answer is simple, yet dark. Lillet Blan is caught in a temporal loop, and on the fifth day of each loop, the evil Archmage is resurrected, and everyone dies. Except for Lillet Blan, of course. The loop won’t end until she does something about the Archmage. While the loop occurs many times, she retains all the magic grimoires and knowledge of runes that she has learned in prior loops. This puzzles the other characters, but eventually they catch on, resulting in a dramatic and surprising conclusion. Which is a secret.
Now, onto the RTS portion! Hurrah! The game is more of a side-view than a top-down, though functions practically the same as Command and Conquer would. Runes are your unit creators and upgrade stations. They come in four categories, Glamour, Sorcery, Necromancy, and Alchemy. There is a rock-paper-scissors system with these, and it is as follows: Glamour beats Necromancy beats Sorcery beats Alchemy beats Glamour. Since the player has access to all four of these, strategizing against the computer controlled enemy should not be difficult. Worker units can build Sanctuaries around mana crystals, which can be harvested for mana, the sole resource. The only form of turret defense is the advent of icon-towers by worker units. The rest of the defense is provided by the offense.
Since the game is played entirely against A.I., understanding the patterns of enemy assault and defense per-level is very easy, though they become more complex and skilled at micro-managing as the difficulty is increased. If the plot itself loses your interest due to repetition or whatever, there are around 25 bonus stages to entertain you, each consisting of a unique scenario that can be overcome with situationally appropriate strategies.
The main thing to take away from this review is that GrimGrimoire is a Vanillaware game, meaning the plot is deep, the art is beautiful, and it’s a freakin’ great game. I’m serious, it’s hard to find games like these anywhere else. They make up the top ranks of my favorite video games, and I’m not the easiest to please gamer. Sort of. What, do you want a documentary?! Go out and buy GrimGrimoire for the Ps2! Or get it for your Ps3 off the Playstation Network for like ten bucks. Worth it. So worth it.