Released in 2016 by Crate Entertainment, Grim Dawn seeks to be a return to the classic style of ARPGs defined by games like Diablo 2. It rejects many of the changes that the genre has undergone in the years since that period, and attempts to go back to a simpler time. But does it succeed? Let’s take a detailed look into the Crate Entertainment’s anticipated game and find out in our Grim Dawn review.
|Type of game:||ARPG|
|Total Play Time:||25-50 hours|
|System Requirements:||CPU: Intel Core2 Duo E8400, 3.0GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+
GPU:512MB NVIDIA GeForce 6800 series or ATI Radeon X800 series
RAM: 2 GB
OS: Windows XP or better
HDD Space: 5 GB
The World of Grim Dawn
One of Grim Dawn’s main selling points is its dark and brutal world. Does Crate Entertainment succeed in crafting this world and giving life to the characters that inhabit it, or does Grim Dawn fail to create anything compelling? Let’s take an in-depth look at the main elements of Grim Dawn and see how well they work.
Atmosphere and Location
Grim Dawn takes place in a brutal, Victorian influenced world that is, as the title suggets, extremely grim. Cobblestone streets overflow with blood and a thick fog blankets most of the world. Grim Dawn doesn’t push the boundaries when it comes to sheer technical prowess in the field of graphics, but the art design is is stunning.
It succeeds in building a sense of atmosphere that keeps players on edge almost a hundred percent of the time, and the extremely visually compelling design of the world makes it feel like a real world, with its own history.
From the Victorian style architecture to the intimidating and tangled wilderness, every element of Grim Dawn’s world is designed perfectly to sell the vibrantly dark atmosphere that the developers intended. The game’s music, too, helps to build this atmosphere.
It’s unlikely that anybody will be listening to the Grim Dawn soundtrack on the way to work any time soon, but the music pairs perfectly with the visuals to paint a vibrant and darkly beautiful picture of a world in the throes of an apocalypse, and the sense of atmosphere it helps create is an extremely valuable part of the Grim Dawn Experience.
Grim Dawn’s main character is, like in many ARPG’s, a cipher for the player. He or she is mostly seen from afar, thanks to the game’s pulled back, isometric style camera, and has no customizable appearance, other than the armor they wear. How the main character behaves in the context of the story is up to the player.
Grim Dawn makes the clever choice of allowing players to choose how their character will handle certain events in the story, and this has an impact on the game’s various endings. Whether the main character is a kind or cruel is up to players, and it allows them to build a deeper connection with their character than would otherwise be possible.
This does have the side-effect of creating a less defined character than would be possible if they were following a well-written, planned out script, but the trade off is absolutely worth it. The versatility of the main character’s personality, thanks to the game allowing players to define it, allows a much deeper level of connection with the main character and with the world.
Grim Dawn’s storyline is an extremely compelling look at the repercussions of apocalyptic events, and a compelling examination of humanity at its worst. Grim Dawn’s world is the site of a never ending battle between two different factions of extremely powerful, extra dimensional species, with humanity caught in the middle and suffering the consequences.
The world is a post-apocalyptic one, with humanity’s hubris having led to them accidentally allowing two species of extremely powerful monsters into their world. All that is left of humanity is small groups of survivors, huddled together and living from day to day. The story follows the main character as they attempt not to save the world, a cause that was already lost long ago, but simply to survive in it.
The main character is pitted against a variety of antagonists, from corrupt humans to members of the two alien species, the Aetherials and Chthonians, both of which are also locked in a war with each other. This extremely dark and compelling world forms the perfect foundation for a story that, while not as grand and heroic as some of its predecessors, is far more interesting. Instead of sticking to well-worn tropes and retreading old ground, Grim Dawn tells a captivating and often horrifying tale that is befitting of its brutal and engaging world.
The vast majority of the characters are not particularly likable, but this is by design. The harsh world that they live in has warped them, and their machinations are what set the majority of the game’s story into play. Grim Dawn’s story may be horrifying, but it is almost impossible to look away from, and even if the gameplay failed to keep players’ interests (it doesn’t), the story would be more than enough to keep anyone going through the game’s impressively long run time.
DLC and Expansion Packs
Grim Dawn’s developers, Crate Entertainment, committed to supporting the game with expansions and DLC regularly before the game’s release. Since release, they have more than made good on that promise. There are currently three pieces of downloadable content available for Grim Dawn. While that number may seem slightly on the low end, one of those is a whole new game mode, and another is a fully fledged expansion.
First up is the Steam Loyalist Items Pack, which offers purely cosmetic skins for any of the game’s gear. While a fun way to change your character’s style, this piece of DLC is hardly essential. Next up is the Crucible Mode DLC, a new, arena-style gameplay mode that provides another way of enjoying Grim Dawn’s extremely satisfying combat.
This DLC comes highly recommended and adds even more replay value to a game that was hardly lacking it in the first place. Finally comes the Ashes of Malmouth expansion, which adds two new and lengthy chapters to the game’s main storyline and provides a truly impressive amount of additional content in the form of a raised level cap, new areas, new story, new items, and much more.
Ashes of Malmouth provides hours upon hours of new and interesting gameplay for a game that already had plenty to do, and in doing so, cements itself as essential DLC that adds to the value of an already fantastic game.
Since the glory days of Diablo 2, many gamers have been yearning for a return to a simpler, arguably more compelling age of ARPGs. Since that niche has so often failed to be filled, Crate Entertainment decided to step up and do it themselves with Grim Dawn, and its hard to argue that they haven’t succeeded. Grim Dawn’s world is a spectacular exercise in dark, compelling world building, and it story helps add depth to that world.
The gameplay is an extremely satisfying exercise in brutal combat, and the consistent support the game receives in the way of patches, minor DLC, and expansions helps ensure that Grim Dawn will be both played and talked about for a long, long time. Have you played Grim Dawn? Are you planning to? Share your thoughts and questions with us!