REVIEWS

GRIME

I can't imagine a more fitting title than the one the small team at Clover Bite delivered in their first attempt at videogames. Tough and sounding similar to grind, the grime, the slime, the "oil" that comes out when you squeeze the stone, is an allegory for what the player experiences when dealing with Grime. Regular readers will remember that we discovered it quite recently at Steam Next Fest where it was among the demos we featured. Personally I was impressed by the demo which foreshadowed what a promising metroidvania it would be. The release date was somewhere in 2021, but it ended up coming quite early in the summer and we were able to present it in detail.

Dancing while floating.

Already from its intro, Grime shows that it is special. In one of these rare instances where "the clothes really do make the man", its surreal visuals set the tone and style of the game. Relentless in places, with a particular identity, its introduction is as enigmatic as its abstract narrative. The core of the game can be described as an action-RPG metroidvania. We are placed/landed in some undefined underground area. Everything around us is presented in a masterful manner and our character is a "perfect sculpted" body that instead of a head has what looks like a black hole. This is where the game starts, as the central core of the narrative is the inner search and exploration of our own avatar's identity and origin.

Decoding the environment to understand the lore.

The aforementioned "black hole" is the reference point on which most of the key game-play systems are designed. As an example, long before we acquire any weapon we learn the "absorb" mechanism, which is none other than the classic parry in souls-like games. Absorbing enemies (when they're low on health) allows for unlocking the bestiary and certain traits that we can invest points in depending on the play style we choose. Early on it seems that we're playing a character who is more of a "predator" than a nobody, which is notable as we're hunting living geological creatures.

Everything that happens in the background is a work of art.

The similarities with Souls are of course not limited to parry. Grime features a leveling system where at checkpoints (the so-called Surrogates, equivalent to bonfires) we can increase our stats (Health, Force, Strength, Dexterity, Resonance) which in turn determine our build depending on the weapon we choose. The range of weapons available is quite wide, for all tastes and requirements: from slow and "heavy" weapons that do monstrous damage (Strength build), to faster and more versatile (Dexterity), to quite gimmicky ones (Resonance). Personally, I opted for a fast dexterity build with a weapon that has a long reach and emphasize dodging attacks like it was pretty much done in Blasphemous.

One of the NPCs who speaks enigmatically giving some information about the world... and ourselves.

It's on the weapon system that my only bad impression is found, which seems to be on its way to being fixed, as each weapon has some absolute stats requirements that we have to meet in order to be able to use it. The scoring system (e.g. Dex A+) showing which stat derives more benefit goes against the philosophy of the mechanism, since in the end we are chasing to get the absolute minimum required stat. A system that either allows for normal weapon testing or gives more weight to benefits than stats (like in... Dark Souls) might be more fitting. Still, weapons are the only reason someone might want to play the game again, so such a restriction might be understandable in this context.

Lithic is the first area where the game really opens up both narratively and in level design.

The upside is that it doesn't take much grind to get to the desired levels of stats. The considerable amount of deaths is enough to gather the necessary resources to level up. So the question arises "what is the stakes" since we die without losing that resource price. Here Clover Beta introduced in my opinion an ingenious mechanism with the implementation of Ardor (too much nomenclature, I know...). Simply put, every time we manage to defeat/absorb an enemy, the Ardor counter grows (with a final value of 100), which acts as a multiplier for the resources we get from enemies. If we are careless and take damage then we lose Ardor. If we die we can recover our "corpse" to reclaim back half the Ardor we had when we were "knocked down" (and if we get the corresponding trait, all of it).

The kind of bosses that make you curse, but ultimately it's not that hard if you take advantage of all the game mechanics you've acquired up to that point.

Dying as in any typical, difficult, self-respecting metroidvania is common. However, after some minor adjustments, the game has become much more plodding in places. Surrogate stones are strategically placed near the bosses (mini/optional or those of the main plot) which reduces the discomfort enough to channel it after each wipe. However, Grime is brilliantly designed and provides the necessary visual cues that make certain battles quite easy, especially on any second playthrough. I admit there were times when I was much more displeased with myself than the infamous Colosseum of Fools in Hollow Knight. But we said it: grime will make you feel like you have to squeeze the stone for its juice. A fitting enough example considering the geological setting in which the story takes place.

The "Mothers" give form and beauty to this stony environment.

And this is where the game shines like carbon arranged in perfect crystalline form. As you can probably already tell from the images, Grime triumphantly enters the exclusive club of those games that are considered not just perfectly artistic, but stand out as visual masterpieces. And while, for example, Ori and the Will of the Wisps adopts a fairy-tale canvas, Grime depicts its different environments in a photorealistic way. Additionally, the level design is extremely thoughtful. Secret passages, multiple passageways and unified areas. The creators made sure to dress up the world and lore with quite a bit of information, and there are several optional areas and mini-bosses! The only negative thing I could add at this point is that the minimap display could have been better, with the connections between different areas being more distinctly depicted.

Spoiler alert: the labyrinthine levels of Grime, indicative of the excellent level design.

In conclusion, Grime is a title that every metroidvania fan should consider. Difficult, gorgeous, it gives the impression of a diamond in the rough that captivates you with all the perspectives that unfold before its carving. The small team at Clover Bite should be proud of what they have accomplished. I'll close with what I said in my presentation of the game at Steam Next Fest, now having a complete picture of the whole game: the Grime is already the metroidvania of the year, given that we won't see Silksong in 2021.

SCORE - 89%

89%

Dark and Grimy

Visual surrealism, difficult handling, vague and abstract lore. Need we say anything else?

Northlander

Γέννημα-θρέμμα της Υπερβορείας, ο Παύλος έκανε καιρό να γνωρίσει την αλληλεπίδραση με την οθόνη. Τα πρώτα παιχνίδια που θυμάται να παίζει ήταν τα Gran Prix, Test Drive, Digger και Flight για DOS σε εποχές που οι περισσότεροι είχαν πλέον Windows... Αυτό δεν τον πτόησε και αγάπησε τη Μητέρα Πλατφόρμα από την πρώτη στιγμή.Θήτευσε και στην άγονη παραμεθόριο των κονσολών (πάντα σε σπίτια φίλων, ποτέ στο δικό του), αλλά το PC ήταν αυτό που τον κράτησε. Λάτρης των ποιοτικών τίτλων από όλα τα είδη, θεωρεί πώς η ιστορία και αυτό που θέλει να πει το παιχνίδι ως μέσο είναι το κυριότερο και όχι η ταμπέλα. Υπάρχουν πάντα οι εξαιρέσεις φυσικά...

Sephir

Beyond Within
Staff member
Joined
Nov 26, 2012
Messages
4,975
Σίγουρη μελλοντική αγορά. Μου άρεσε πολύ το demo και ιδιαίτερα με τους ρυθμούς που βελτιώνεται μέσω των patches, θα πρόκειται για μια ακόμα πιο άρτια εμπειρία.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2012
Messages
2,264
Πραγματικά φαίνεται "άνθρακας διατεταγμένος σε τέλεια κρυσταλλική μορφή", noted!
 

Northlander

Tarrasque
Staff member
Joined
Nov 26, 2012
Messages
16,619
Το studio τρέχει με γοργούς ρυθμούς και έχει άμεση αλληλεπίδραση με την κοινότητα σε σημείο να κάνουν άμεσο debugging όταν αυτό αναφέρεται. Ακόμη και στην τωρινή του μορφή θεωρώ ότι αξίζει τα χρήματά του, χορταστικότατο και όπως είπα μπορείς να πετύχεις το 100% σε ένα playthrough.
 

Related Articles

Check Also
Close
Back to top button
en_USEnglish