American McGee’s Grimm – Episode 1 Review (PC)
American McGee first worked as a designer for id Software on games like Doom II and Quake but his big breakthrough was when he released Alice in 2000. The is one of my favorite games of all times mixing a gritty ambiance, enthralling soundtrack and characters out of this world. The take on Alice in Wonderland was genius and the voice acting is one of the best ever put in a game.
But I digress, since then there were plans to give similar treatment to Oz, which sadly still hasn’t been done, and I discovered recently that he produced two other games with various results, Scrapland and Bad Day L.A.. The first one was pretty well received but the latter was destroyed by critics as one of the worst games ever. I haven’t played either but they weren’t created by him (only produces) so I don’t take it into too much account.
Now along comes Grimm, an episodic game that retraces the famous tales from the two brothers, reminds you of the Alice premise? Let’s hope so.
Is the first episode: A Boy Learns What Fear Is the long awaited new masterpiece of American or will we have to wait for a hypothetical Oz?
Grimm uses the Unreal 3 engine but it’s really not the type of game that is going to make you realize this. The graphics are overall pretty basic but very enjoyable. The original world is pretty colorful pastel and patchy while Grimm’s version is still patchy but darker and grittier.
In the gallery mode, which you need to unlock, you can see every item from the game and switch them from regular to dark mode, back and forth, which is a pretty nice feature since sometimes in the game you don’t see all the transformations.
The style somewhat reminded me of a pop-up book for children, which seems appropriate for this game.
As with Alice the sound is a big part of the ambiance of the game. The theme of episode 1 is really nice and “catchy” in a dark way, after i finished the episode I found myself humming the tune for a while. As far as I can remember it’s the same tune throughout the whole game which isn’t really a problem since it’s only about 30-45 minutes long.
The voices are also good although not as perfect as Alice was. Grimm’s voice is mostly the only one we here throughout the game and it’s pretty solid work. Some classic lines like “buttstomp away” and “Make it stinky” are, if not a bit repetitive, somewhat catchy.
The gameplay is ever so basic, you move around and sometimes have to jump to darken some bigger objects such as buildings or gates. You are in a colorful town and your goal is to tun everything to darkness. As you transform the village you fill a Dark-O-Meter which, when full enough, allows you to move to the next area. You do not have to darken everything to progress but I find I like the dark version of the worlds much nicer so I always turn everything to gloom 🙂
The ‘goal’ is do this in as little time as possible (think Time Attack Mode) in order to be on the leaderboard at Gametap but you have to play online through Gametap in order for your records to be kept, if you play the offline stand alone version it’s just a personal affair.
Throughout out the game there are also a few hidden coins which, if all collected, unlock the gallery mode.
There isn’t much more to it than this really, simple yet effective gameplay. The only thing I would have liked is the ability to take the camera back for a wider view of the world and the transformations since sometimes you’re a bit too close to really see them.
As the premise states each episode is based on one of the Brothers Grimm’s tale so I will venture a will guess that you can greatly increase your enjoyment by spending 5 minutes reading the original tale before playing.
For this episode we are following a boy who has never known fear and it is Grimm goal to change this and ruins everything around him. A feature I really enjoyed is the retelling of the story. When you start the game there is an introduction sequence which tells the setting of the tale in a somewhat regular tone, but when you finish the game you gain access to the dark version of the tale which is pretty fun. Of course if you’re like me and love American McGee’s style you’ll enjoy the darker version of things much more.
So overall it’s a very enjoyable game, especially since the first episode is free. I am not sure is it is really worth $4 which is the price for the following episodes. With 24 episodes that is a potential price tag of $92 ( the first one being free) which is a bit of a hefty sum. Now keep in mind that each episode will be free on the day of release (which is weekly) so potentially you could also get the whole game for free if you pay attention. But overall I’d be more than willing (pending quality of future episodes of course) to pay about $30 box for a retail box of the game because I think it’s worth it.
The bottom line is if you liked Alice, if you like gritty retelling of fairy tales and want to have a short and sweet time then you should try it out. Plus the first episode is free so no excuse.
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