There was a time, back when I was a young whippersnapper, that grid-based dungeon crawlers were a big part of the gaming ecosphere. Advances in technology rendered the style obsolete, as "better" games with complete freedom of motion asserted their dominance. Yet when Almost Human released the very old-school Legend of Grimrock in 2012, it found enough success beyond the nostalgic oldster demographic to ensure a sequel—and that sequel is now playable from the very beginning to the very end.
"We sneakily went past a very important milestone just a while ago. Legend of Grimrock 2 is now in alpha!" Almost Human's Antti Tiihonen wrote in a new blog post . "The definition of milestones of course varies from one company to the next but I think our alpha is, relatively speaking, a 'strong alpha'."
That, he continued, means the game is playable from start to finish, and all planned features have been implemented. It's not anywhere near complete, obviously, and "there are still features and content that lack polish and refinement, and balance and progression of the game is not complete." But it is, as Tiihonen put it, "whole."
Tiihonen said he and fellow Almost Human Petri Hakkinen have been applying polish to the game's many areas in advance of the move into beta testing. They pick one section of the game each day and focus on fixing the biggest issues that arise during gameplay, but also tackle game design issues, visual glitches and other problems that may crop up.
"One day for each area is not a lot of time but doing a pass like this over the whole game really improves the overall experience since this way we always tackle the weakest spots of the game without getting stuck into details for too long," he wrote. "This also helps us by breaking down the game into more digestible bits that we can focus on since trying to polish the whole game at once feels like an overwhelming task and it would always be difficult to decide what would be important to do next."
Legend of Grimrock 2 will offer the same core experience as the original game—which is good—but promises some big changes , too, including more monsters with improved AI, an overhauled interface, a new playable race and even outdoor environments. The game should be out later this year.