11/12/2021

⚔️ Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition | Xbox Series X | Review | 7.5/10 | "Grim Me Up Buttercup" ⚔️ @GrimDawn #GameDev #IndieGames #IndieGame #IndieGameDev

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ARPG hack ‘n slashers are usually games that I play in booze-fuelled co-op sessions as the mindless, button-tapping violence combined with natural drink-pouring breaks as each player fumbles around with their loot is a genuine match made in heaven. In a charity event a couple of years ago, however - whereby myself and two friends completed Diablo 3 in under twelve hours  - I felt like I had overloaded on the genre and moved away from it for a while.

Grim Dawn: Definitive Edition was the first time that I’d played a pure ARPG in single-player mode and I was very much in the right frame of mind for it. I had been ill, was a bit frazzled and really relished the thought of some zone-out hacking action.

The world of Grim Dawn is much as you’d expect from the title. The land of Cairn is one in which humans are on the brink of extinction, caught in the middle of an eternal war and everything is miserable, as hinted at in the names of the locations; Putrid Den, The Old Dump, Sodden Hollow, Depraved Sanctuary, Festering Lair, and The Steps of Torment etc.

Quite frankly, all places where the house prices would be eyebrow-raisingly low and probably set within low council tax brackets. I was ALL OVER IT. A lifetime of playing – and loving – games from Eastern Europe (most recently, Chernobylite) means that I am drawn to overly dark and miserable games, Grim Dawn is no exception and it absolutely lives up to the title.

A top-down affair, the gameplay is very traditional; with the usual looting, inventory management, upgrades, classes and the like that we’ve seen many times before. The real pull for me is that the world is so unrelenting in terms of abject misery and hopelessness. I’m not one for shiny high-fantasy, so trudging through marshes to hack down old friends who have been zombified was much more up my Strasse. There’s also a huge amount of content here, as the definitive edition also comes with the DLC, meaning that there are dozens of hours of gameplay here. Good.

I was surprisingly gripped by the music, Steve Pardo’s soundtrack had me browsing (unsuccessfully) for a vinyl copy of the OST within a couple of hours of starting play; it’s evocative, atmospheric and blends classic and modern instrumentation with melodic hooks that don’t just get under your skin, they also get infected, kill you and bring you back as one of the walking dead that then gets hacked down by a dear friend in an act of weeping mercy.

As I was playing on the XSX, I was hoping for 60fps but the game is locked at 30, although it does run smoothly and the grisly worlds are well-presented in all their dark reds, browns and greys. Again, good.

"Right, I’m off to sell a metric tonne of corpse dust."

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