[Beyond PlayStation] Grimshade Review
Turn-based RPG with an interesting foundation that is unfortunately destroyed by its many bugs5.5
Grimshade from Talerock and UTC Asterion is a steampunk-infused RPG in the world of Ree’ fah. Learn more in our Grimshade review!
In Grimshade from Talerock and UTC Asterion, you will take on a steampunk-infused RPG in which humans and an extended anthropomorphic cast come together on an adventure through the world of Ree’ fah. The city of Brann has been invaded by its neighbor Bespierre, which set into motion the actions of a new hero searching for truth and justice. You will take control of Alister Garuda – the aforementioned hero – who is saved after a nasty fall thanks to the Ether gauntlet he uses to channel dark energy.
You can play the game in one of three difficulty settings. In Easy, enemies will have 50% fewer hit points, will have one less avoidance token, and their speed will also be 40% lower. For Normal, enemies will have 20% fewer hit points, one less avoidance token, and a lower speed by a 20% margin. Hard, as per the wording from the developer in the New Game menu, is the way they intend gamers to play Grimshade, although it might end up feeling a bit challenging for those who have no previous experience with turn-based RPGs.
Each character in your growing roster of allies will have different abilities that will set them apart. Without spoiling things, let’s talk about two characters. Alister is what you’d call a tank type of character, so he should be put to good use by covering other characters in your party so that they can survive as they prepare their abilities to damage opponents. Alister can use his staff to deal electric damage to opponents, which can build up over time, dealing additional damage due to the overall energy buildup. You can also use his weaker but faster gunslinger ability, which won’t deal much damage but can get rid of one of your opponent’s avoidance token, setting it up for an attack from one of your allies. By using the Ether gauntlet, Alister can also channel dark energy to create a shield around himself or his allies, protecting them from damage.
Another character is Charlie Glassington, an old badger who favors attacking from a safe distance. He was a close friend of Alister’s father, which is why he ends up filling the role of mentor. His most useful ability is the aimed shot, which he sets up during one turn to unleash all of its might in another one. Because of this, you need to be careful about his position in battle, because if he’s hit, he’ll be distracted and could end up missing the shot. If his target moves, then he won’t be able to get a clear shot either. You could also decide to use his quick shot ability, which deals less damage but is activated right away.
Each character in your party will have different stats and abilities to consider so that you can make the most of what they have to offer. There’s Tension, which is the physical, emotional, and mental tension of that character, Avoidance, which I’ll discuss in a bit, Armor, which will be used to lower the overall physical damage dealt by an enemy, and Initiative, which will have an effect on where a character is placed in the action bar at the bottom of the screen, so that they can act sooner rather than later in the battle.
Fights will take place on a separate battle grid in which allies and foes will take turns performing different actions. You can check the order in which everyone will act by looking at the bottom left corner of the screen so that you can plan your strategy accordingly. Each character will have combat skills that will activate over one or more sections of the grid, depending on which side of the field it will be performed. The left side of the screen is for the player, while the right side is for enemies.
You can use melee attacks against enemies that are near you, or you can use other more powerful skills. The more powerful an ability, the longer it will take for a character to get a chance to act again. You also need to check if enemies have any avoidance tokens on them. Any character that has an avoidance token on it, be it friend or foe, will always avoid an attack and use up said token. These tokens will be restored to their max value at the start of each combat turn, so you should always keep this in mind!
Selecting abilities is weird since the game makes you use the right analog stick for this… but it sometimes doesn’t register that you want to open up the abilities window to select attacks and skills. This makes the already slow combat feel even slower, not to mention frustrating when they could just have had you press the A button over an enemy to use an attack skill, over your character or an ally to use a healing or protection skill, and done. Instead, you end up pressing on the right analog stick, hoping that the game decides to do what is actually needed in battle.
As you progress through the game, you will be rewarded with resources found in the battles you win, or you can also find them by searching around each location you visit. Resources can be used for crafting, which will reward you with helpful items to aid you in battle, medical supplies to heal wounds, or you can work on your equipment to give your group a better chance of surviving the more challenging battles you’ll find in subsequent chapters since you’ll be running into enemies with higher stats and a wider variety of skills.
Grimshade is a game that I was very much looking forward to playing since I’m a big fan of turn-based RPGs, and the game’s setting and overall story arc seemed interesting. In the end, it’s a hard one to recommend since it’s a buggy experience with cumbersome combat that doesn’t work as intended, and the game tends to lock up completely, forcing you to close it and start again. The writing feels a bit off here and there, and the slow combat that is more cumbersome than it should be will probably keep you from fully enjoying this RPG adventure. Grimshade is out on Nintendo Switch with a $24.99 asking price.
This Grimshade review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by UTC Asterion.