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Grimind (PC) artwork

Grimind (PC) review

"...I would recommend Grimind to genre die hards and indie lovers, provided they aren't hoping to find a terrifying title..."

According to its official website, the indie game Grimind is a 2D horror title with an emphasis on solving puzzles. The site also warns that players will be scared. Oh, how I love to be scared! I dig it almost as much as I enjoy playing 2D platformers and solving puzzles. I figured, then, that Grimind would be an obscure, creepy treat that I shouldn't miss. Unfortunately, such wasn't exactly the case...

Much of Grimind, particularly the latter half, is bereft of horror elements. The game does attempt to be spooky early in the campaign, though, as it thrusts you into a tenebrous cavern-like world whilst a ghostly, ambient score fills the air. While admiring the tunes, you traipse from one dimly lit segment of the cave system to another, your path lit by dazzling backgrounds and gorgeous lights. Late in the first stage, you find yourself plunged into darkness while a sound akin to mass devouring fills your ears. It's then that the game introduces its fearsome foes...

Grimind (PC) image
Killer squares.... with eyes...

Never mind that the predatory squares are quite deadly, and forget that a single misstep will lead to them pouncing on the protagonist, reducing him to a gory splatter. I honestly fail to find anything even remotely terrifying about them, and not only because of their primitive appearance (which is baffling, since the rest of the game doesn't look similarly antiquated). The sounds they produce further demean their presence as horrifying antagonists, because they tend to utter cartoony grunts and groans similar to the Tazmanian Devil. You might be inclined to write off my qualms about Grmind's adversaries, with the expectation that other fiends will slither in to pick up the slack. However, these creatures are the only enemies in the game, save for the final boss, who's also not the least bit frightening.

Grimind (PC) image

It doesn't help, either, that it's difficult to identify with Grimind's nameless protagonist. The game offers players little reason to root for him. The story begins with the character mysteriously appearing in the subterranean labyrinth, with few details about his previous life or characteristics ever made available. No, I don't expect a full backstory or an opening cutscene detailing his life and times, but it would be nice if there were a few in-game scenarios that would allow players to analyze the character more deeply. Instead, all we know about our hero is that he's cowardly and whiny, as is detailed in the script. For the most part, the protagonist's lines consist of him either crying out in fear or whimpering about his lack of friends. Personally, I found myself incapable of sympathizing with his plight, and therefore had no sound reason to fear for his safety.

I could continue to bellyache about the game's weak storyline, uninteresting characters, predictable plot devices, and minimalistic script, but the truth is I usually don't care about such things when playing a 2D platformer. Heck, the game's lack of horrifying content doesn't even bother me all that much, even if it is a slight letdown. What matters most to me is whether or not Grimind manages to remain creative and engaging throughout its campaign, and I'm pleased to report that it does.

Grimind (PC) image

Despite being trapped within a cave system, the protagonist makes some peculiar discoveries. Odd machinery, for instance, lies inert all over the caverns, and some of it remains operable. One of my favorites is a rocket-like platform that you control by running on a wheel attached to the mechanism. There's also plenty of unusual plant life to be found in the darkness, not to mention crystal balls that function as light sources. These crystals play a huge role in the latter half of the campaign, as they assist in combat. You see, our hero isn't packing heat or even equipped so much as a dirk. His only means of offense is to throw brilliant crystals at his boxy opponents, trusting the light they exude to reduce the monsters to ashes. While it is an intriguing combat system, it's not flawless, especially if you're using a gamepad or Xbox 360 controller. I spent most of my time using the latter, which required me to move a cursor with the right thumb stick in order to aim my toss. Unlike what happens when using the mouse, the cursor slowly inched its way across the screen. This delay proved to be a liability in a later battle that found box monsters literally raining down on me.

Thankfully, Grimind's play control doesn't falter much outside of that one quirk. While some might complain that the character's leap is a bit floaty, I would say that questioning the physics of a surreal game is moot. Despite the "floatiness," I found Grimind’s platformer elements pleasing. The game features some fantastic scenarios that are engaging without completely ripping your face off. One of my favorites sent me through a shadowy maze, with hungry creatures lurking in the darkness. Accompanying me was a companion that the protagonist met earlier on, a spectral being who emitted light. The life form moved through the convoluted series of platforms, and I only had to follow. The tricky part, though, was that it was easy to fall behind and become a snack for the beasts.

Grimind (PC) image

Platforming segments play second fiddle, though, to the game's neat puzzles. Some might accuse the puzzles of being contrived, but again I point to Grimind's surreal nature. While it does sport a few lame push-block puzzles and a couple that require you to throw switches in a certain order--in other words: "bland, overused challenges"--it does also feature a pretty slick array of brain teasers that are less familiar. One puzzle arises after you discover the aforementioned ship. Landing it on a certain push plate unlocks a door, revealing a switch that turns off a nearby force field. The only trouble is that you can't even approach the switch, as a whole slew of monsters burst from an adjacent wall before you can reach it. Figuring out how to succeed without becoming lunch was tough for me, but I eventually discovered that you had utilize the monsters to solve this one.

Ultimately, I enjoyed my time with Grimind. Its gauntlet of obstacles, thought-provoking puzzles, and terrific, grim visuals won me over. Still, I felt that the game's horror elements could have been handled better, as well as the cursor sensitivity with the 360 controller. Despite those hiccups, I would recommend Grimind to genre die hards and indie lovers, provided they aren't hoping to find a terrifying title...


JoeTheDestroyer's avatar
Freelance review by Joseph Shaffer (February 27, 2014)

Rumor has it that Joe is not actually a man, but a machine that likes video games, horror movies, and long walks on the beach. His/Its first contribution to HonestGamers was a review of Breath of Fire III.

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EmP posted February 27, 2014:

Fixed all your broken HTML. Only going to be a little smug about it. You're welcome.

Who messes up itallic links anymore? That's so late 1990s....

In other news, has it become law now or something for all indie platform games to look like Limbo? It seemed fitting in, say, Nihilumbra, but honestly feels like a forced aesthetic half the time I see it.
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JoeTheDestroyer posted February 27, 2014:

Oops. I was in a hurry. Thanks.

Anyway, I am getting pretty tired of the whole "let's imitate Limbo" junk. This one at least threw in some color, so I didn't gripe about it. I've seen worse offenders, like Noire.

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