Inspired by JRPGs of the 90s, Grimshade had me curious. While Grimshade started out to be a fun experience in the beginning, sadly, it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. It’s made clear after a few hours that it would have been better suited to release on Steam Early Access instead, as its current state is a complete mess. This is disappointing because Grimshade has the potential of becoming an interesting game with fun turn-based combat but unfortunately failed to do so.
Grimshade follows the protagonist, Alister, who is considered a champion that’s on a quest to try and save the city of Brann. The high walls can no longer protect the town’s residents anymore and they’re getting threatened by strange monsters which are living in the nearby forests. As if that’s not bad enough already, the king and his champions have disappeared. Alister meets a strange guy Kiba in the forest and with him and several other people, the march forth to save Brann.
The game’s first few hours are quite linear, as there is a main quest you have to follow. The game is surprisingly very detailed and you can interact with a lot of items, so you explore the streets of Brann. With that said, I found the descriptions a bit long at times and since I didn’t really care nor wanted to read a short text for every item, I started skipping their explanations altogether. Similar to the items, the text for NPCs is way too long and I found myself not really caring about their story.
The turn-based combat is kept pretty straight forward, even though I needed some time to get used to it. If battles get too tough, there are options to set your difficulty lower if you’re having trouble. I liked that every character has special individual items with different effects, however, I felt that every encounter played out similar and there was no real difference between them. So inevitably, encounters get very repetitive and I found it especially tedious that you can’t entirely skip your enemies turns because a few characters have a special ability with a protective shield you have to destroy. Sometimes there are multiple protective shields for certain enemies — and they get reset after every round. This made it feel like the combat would never end when there are more than six enemies in a fight.
Speaking of multiple enemies in the same combat, the game really starts to stutter when you’re fighting against more than a few enemies at once. Now, you could say it’s not a big deal, because the game is still playable, right? Well, sadly, it doesn’t end with this. While the first few hours of the game are alright and I didn’t notice anything strange, Grimshade is full of bugs as you continue into its later parts. I had to load my save file multiple times because I couldn’t go on with battles due to these glitches. Sometimes, even this wasn’t enough and I was forced to restart the whole game in order to go on in Grimshade. During these moments, the game basically worked, I just couldn’t interact with anything anymore and it didn’t react to my actions.
There is a map available in Grimshade which really comes in handy because you can travel to certain points of the game. When you get injured in the combat, the only way to regain your health is to heal yourself with special items or go back to a Haven. I found this feature a bit unnecessary, as you could teleport directly to the Haven from the map and fill up your health immediately instead of using your items.
The graphics and art style of Grimshade really do remind me JRPGs of the 90s, so everyone who enjoyed these games will like Grimshade‘s look. The first thing I always do, with every game, is to check the graphics settings. As someone who is really into pretty graphics, I was very pleased to see that Grimshade supports a resolution of up to 4k. However, as I was playing this game in 4k, although it looked really pretty, I noticed that this game is poorly optimized for this resolution and the text is way too small. I ended up getting a headache soon after reading it for a while and it doesn’t help that even the menu buttons are small. Suffice to say, I couldn’t go on playing it on this resolution anymore and changed it back to 1080p, yet, to be honest, the text is still too small for my taste.
All in all, while Grimshade started off pretty fun, my immersion got destroyed due to its bugs and poor optimization. I really looked forward to playing Grimshade, but little things kept piling up which made the experience as a whole very frustrating. It’s such a shame, but I can not recommend Grimshade in its current state.
With that said, Grimshade was a disappointing experience overall, as I wanted to enjoy the game. While it does have an interesting premise and some nice features that aren’t totally executed completely, I would have recommended the game goes through a bit more time in QA to maximize on its strengths and fix some of its game breaking bugs.
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