I’ll start off by confessing I didn’t complete Grimind. I got halfway through level 12 (of 15) and gave up because the experience was just so stressful. Fortunately, the game lets you play levels in any order, so I was able to sample the remaining three, but they weren’t any easier. Grimind is a horror themed, physics-based puzzle platformer. You play a little brown hedgehog-like creature trapped in a dark underworld. It’s visually and aurally impressive, featuring a haunting silhouette style for most of the environment, complemented by a similarly haunting soundtrack to set the mood.
The problem with Grimind is that it tries to be an ultra-hard platformer, with many sequences requiring quick reflexes and precision jumps, but the physics-based engine gets in the way. Your character takes a little while to get moving and his momentum makes it difficult to switch directions in an instant. This, in turn, makes it nearly impossible to react to sudden surprises, and there are a lot of sudden surprises in this game. So what you end up with is a game in which you’ll move a little bit ahead, die because the controls are too imprecise, restart from a checkpoint, get to where you died, get past that point because you know what to expect, then die at the next surprise. It gets aggravating fast, and becomes more so as you progress.
Grimind wouldn’t be so maddeningly frustrating if the checkpoints were more generous, but they are actually pretty far apart. It felt like the game was deliberately wasting my time, which angered me because I absolutely hate having my time wasted by anyone or anything other than myself. Unlike other ultra-hard games, such as Super Meat Boy, I gained no satisfaction from successfully completing a difficult sequence. Instead, I only felt relief that it was over, as well as a sense of dread about the type of hell the game was about to put me through next. That sense of dread is Grimind’s greatest accomplishment, however. Thanks to the difficulty, the game provides a levels of tension that exceeds even the likes of Doom 3 or Dead Space, which is quite the feat for a 2D side-scrolling platformer. Given that Grimind is supposed to be a horror game, the developer should be applauded for accomplishing this.
The experience is also great when it focuses on the puzzle side of the puzzle-platformer equation. The most enjoyable sequences contain ingenious puzzles and creative uses of the physics engine. One early puzzle where you have to get a water pump working is a nice example. Figuring out how to get the water flowing, then directing it where I needed it to be was an intellectual joy. There’s no hand-holding either. Aside from a very brief introduction that teaches you how to move and interact with the environment, you’re left on your own to figure out where to go and what to do. You won’t even see so much as an objective marker to point your way.
You’ll figure it out, however, thanks to some very smart level design. Visual/aural cues, chokepoints, and seemingly impassable obstacles funnel you in the right direction without actually telling you what to do. It’s mind-bogglingly brilliant how subtle and effective these puzzle sequences are, and I enjoyed them immensely.
But, for every one of those moments, there was a swearingly difficult platforming segment that squandered any goodwill I felt. I couldn’t play the game for more than twenty minutes at a time before I had to rage quit and calm down. It literally stressed me out, and that’s not a good feeling for any game to produce. For the interests of my mental health, I had to tell Adam I couldn’t finish the game.
Conclusion—Is It Worth The Money?
So, yes, I hate Grimind. I wouldn’t buy it. It does have flashes of brilliance. The puzzle sections demonstrate good crafting skills on the part of the developer. So, if you like supporting new guys with talent—or if you live the kind of life that could do with a lot of added stress—you’ll find your ten dollars to be well spent.
- Time Played—5.5 hours
- Widescreen Support—Yes
- Resolution Played—1920×1200
- FOV Slider—None/Not Applicable
- 5.1 Audio Support—N/A
- Bugs/Crashes Encountered—None
- Control Scheme—Keyboard/Mouse
- System Specs— Win7x64 Ultimate, Core firstname.lastname@example.orgGHz, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 6770M 512MB
- Game Acquisition Method—Review Copy
- Availability—Official site