It's a sad and strange state of affairs when a developer not releasing an Early Access version of their game feels like the exception rather than the norm - but here we are. Despite Legend of Grimrock 2 being in "strong alpha" - i.e. the game is playable from start to end in some form - Almost Human Games are not going to plonk this early version on Steam, and charge people to play it before it's done. You will be able to put down a pre-order at some point, however, giving the devs your money without getting anything immediate in return. Wait, what? (I imagine pre-orders will begin when the game is a little closer to being done, and there's almost no risk of development being halted by a sudden meteor or a desire for a shiny speedboat or anything like that.) Almost Human explained their reasoning to RPS, and because this opening paragraph is already lengthier than some novels, I've stashed it after the break.
Almost Human Games
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.
I like most of Legend of Grimrock’s impenetrable puzzles. I like the way it makes consumables scarce. I like its shadows. I like the way its spell system feels like Simon. I don’t like its damn electric bats. I like that it’s the most insulated I’ve felt in a game space since BioShock.
But an under-mentioned thing I love about it is that I can play it mostly one-handed. You know, while swirling a tumbler of Mountain Dew, or something.
Legend of Grimrock is difficult for me. It’s a love letter to Dungeon Master, one of my favourite games. It’s difficult to pretend to be objective when you’re being poked so stubbornly in your nostalgia pipe. I was gurglingly well-disposed to Grimrock, even before I started playing it, so this review runs a real risk of becoming either a nauseatingly self-indulgent gush or kneejerk backlash.