Grim Dawn Review
When we talk about hack and slash games, like in this Grim Dawn review, Diablo is a logical start of the discussion. Most famous member of ARPG genre it brought revolution back in the good old days of golden age of video games. Spectacular graphics, excellent gameplay and lust for loot had made Diablo one of the cult classics played even today. After it, there haven’t been games that could revive the masterfully crafted package which was (and still is) Diablo, except one. Titan Quest got released back in 2006, in a perfect time to become the best ARPG, after Diablo II. It had excellent graphics, incredible world, a compelling story and extravagantly fun gameplay. The company responsible for the game, Iron Lore Entertainment. It was closed back in 2008 but soon after former employees decided to form Crate Entertainment, the studio that brings us, Grim Dawn.
When you start playing Grim Dawn, immediate associations to Titan Quest start to emerge. The unique class system, the presence of charms, loot system, and art style all shout out “Titan Quest!”
But Grim Dawn is very different from its spiritual predecessor; the world is completely different, added crafting mechanic gives players more ways to get their hold on better equipment, and there’s faction affinity system adding more realism to the world of Grim Dawn.
As with almost all ARPG games, you start as a “nobody”, but there’s a catch. You are touched by the Aetherial, exposed to the Warp, and somehow survived. It makes you some kind of unnatural being possessing immeasurable strength. Which you will use in your fight against forces of evil. After some time, when your character earns a couple of levels and beats a few bosses, you’ll embark on a journey leading you through the world of Cairn. And Cairn is a huge world to explore, filled with unimaginable horrors, deadly creatures and tons of loot.
The game world is really huge, the first act alone will take around fifteen hours to complete. Just by looking at the world map, a feeling of condensed fear starts emerging. Because in order to complete the game you’ll need plenty of free time. Forget about friends, forget about lovers, because Grim Dawn can be a juggernaut when it comes to wasting every moment of free time in your life.
There are six masteries (classes) to choose from. Arcanists are powerful magic bearers, using Aetherial energy for creation of destructive spells. They are excellent attackers but weak at defense. Demolitionists love fire, really love it. Part engineers, part sorcerers. Their magic arsenal consists out of destructive spells meant to light up foes, make them burn, sending them back to the netherworld. Proficient both with melee and ranged weapons they are ultimate killing machines. Nightblades are basically a Rogue class of Grim Dawn. Able to deliver devastating amounts of damage, which can kill almost every foe, they still need to be at a distance from enemies, because Nightblades are very vulnerable when fighting hand-to-hand.
Occultists use dark arts for summoning horrors of the netherworld, and can use both melees and ranged weapons, although they are proficient with neither of those. Shamans call on the power of wild in order to defeat their foes, summoning beasts and using nature-based spells as their main attack options. Soldiers are, well, soldiers. Good with sword and shield they are the ultimate defense force of the empire against Aetherial forces.
After selecting your class, the real fun begins. Combat is tight, fast, bloody and extremely satisfying. There will be moments when cursor will just refuse to mark an enemy if using long range weapon. You’ll just approach it, and take some hits, but most of the time, aim is spot-on. Some enemies can look too weak for your character, but that’s just a feature of the first act. It serves as an introduction to the game and its mechanics. Regions are huge, filled with all kinds of creatures, and loot is everywhere. Even on normal difficulty, you’ll find some badass equipment, but we recommend you to play the game on Veteran difficulty. Playing on normal will just make Grim Dawn one big snore fest where everyone dies from your hand while you leave fights more or less undamaged.
Graphics and art style are perfect, dark world of Grim Dawn can really be beautiful at times; you can really see authors invested many hours in creating models; lighting is also excellent, and explosions can be overwhelming at times. Although the graphics are pretty, it is notable that developers just haven’t invested as much time in making the world of Cairn varied enough as they spent on making monsters look stunning. You’ll travel through similar swamps, fields, dungeons and caves. After a while, it will all start to look like one big map repeating itself, on and on. It’s a shame, especially if we remember a hugely varied world of Titan Quest. Where every region had its own art style and was immediately recognized as something completely different and new.
When you reach level 10, there’s an option to choose the second mastery, but remember, you don’t have to choose it immediately, or at all. Grim Dawn introduces a Devotion mechanic, giving you one devotion point after finding and unlocking new shrine. There are 25 shrines spread through the game, so it’s better to keep a close eye on them. Devotion points can be invested in unlocking additional passive abilities, by unlocking parts of constellations placed on a huge sky map. Strategic thinking is the key when choosing new passive abilities since most constellations require points from more than one devotion.
The game has an affinity system, when you’re on good terms with a certain faction they will give you better prices. And they may even give you some hidden quests. But when you go south with an enemy faction, they will send you tougher enemies. So choose your friends and foes wisely.
Boss fights are incredible, many bosses are tough as a rock. Demands you to use all of your skills in order to defeat them; it’s worth it since the loot they leave behind them is of top quality. Don’t worry, there won’t be bosses just leaving a bunch of useless equipment. Every single one will spawn at least one piece of rare equipment. Inventory management is awesome. It makes you spend time in it only when seeing if that new sword is better than the one you have.
For ARPG fans, Grim Dawn will be a breath of fresh air in a Diablo III filled world. The game is repetitive, but the constant urge of finding better equipment, excellent leveling system, nice boss fights, and enjoyable gameplay will suck many hours out of your free time. Grim Dawn is the best ARPG to come out ever since D-III, and a worthy (spiritual) successor to legendary Titan Quest.