Sean Knight has some ideas for a sequel to Almost Human Games’ dungeon crawler
Over the past couple of years there have been a number of reboots and modernized sequels to classic games. Duke Nukem, Syndicate, and the upcoming XCOM game are examples of such. But Legend of Grimrock is a new IP that brought back an entire genre that had fallen to the wayside: the Dungeon Crawler. While popular in the 1980s and 1990s the genre has mostly been forgotten as others like the FPS and RPG genres continue to surge in popularity.
Legend of Grimrock was able to remind many – myself included – of this forgotten genre with its nostalgic gameplay and impressive aesthetics. However, if Almost Human Games decides to do a full-blown sequel, they will need to present us with a game that can meld some of today’s current features while staying true to the past.
And it has to be done well.
Take Duke Nukem Forever for example. The sequel to an old yet popular franchise was a clash of modern gameplay with a sense of humor (with some of the humor feeling out of place and even juvenile) and featured a chauvinistic and crass hero. Duke was a protagonist that many felt did not need to come back at all.
Yet return he did and, unfortunately, instead of a game that promised to be full of raunchy, unrepentant humor we were given a game that was confused. It replaced two core mechanics of old school gaming, health packs and multiple guns, with today’s regenerative health and limited weapons. This, among other issues such as an entire sequence where you drove a vehicle, turned what could have been a fun game into something that was alright, at times boring, and, for some, forgettable.
In DNF’s case it would have benefitted from staying true to the old style of gameplay rather than adapting today’s standards for FPS games.
But with Legend of Grimrock the developer has the opportunity to make it shine even more should they decide to do a sequel (let’s refer to it as LoG2).
The biggest thing that could really propel the sequel would be voicework. While the original game’s atmosphere was brilliant it also became a little tedious because there was nothing to fill the void as I traversed from one area to the next with nothing to do. Granted the atmosphere was even spookier because of it but voicework could enrich it as well. So the developer could follow in BioWare’s footsteps when it comes to such a thing.
Say what you will about Mass Effect 3‘s ending but one thing that is undeniable is the series’ top-notch dialogue. It was what made us fall in love with characters such as Garrus, Tali, and Miranda. It is also something that LoG2 could really capitalize on.
At the very least a narrator of some sort would be a nice addition to the game: think of Bastion and Dear Esther and the talented narrators in those two games. Having a good narrator read the writing on the walls, or the letters you pick up, would add to the game’s atmosphere and set the tone quite nicely.
Just imagine if Logan Cunningham had read Toorum’s letters whenever you came across them
In the original game you could create your party of four then traverse throughout the labyrinthine lair of Mount Grimrock (or opt to use the pre-made one). But aside from the fact you were all condemned criminals trying to escape there wasn’t much to discover about yourself or your companions.
As I played the game I started to come up with a story for my character but once again Almost Human Games could take things further. They could provide a rich history and personality for each of the companions and give them voices.
Instead of customizing the entire party let the player customize one character that would be the main, silent lead. Then provide a dialogue system like the Dragon Age series where you choose from several options and then your companions respond. Perhaps have it so that at preset locations a conversation between the party members sparks up.
While getting to know the people in your party helps to provide an emotional attachment to the game and its characters, providing a romantic interest further strengthens that attachment. Just ask people who played games such as Mass Effect, Uncharted, and Half-Life and you will see how deeply loved these games are because there is some sort of romantic interest in them.
Aside from these three things Legend of Grimrock really doesn’t need much else. The gameplay is still solid and has no need to be changed. Perhaps the AI could use a little more fine-tuning but the atmosphere is perfect. The addition of voicework, deeper characters, and romance would just enhance an already great game and propel it into a strong franchise.
But what do you think? Should Legend of Grimrock stick to its nostalgic roots or modernize itself to a certain degree? What kind of changes or additions do you think could improve and modernize the game further?
Follow Sean on Twitter: @SeanDKnight