The developers of Legend of Grimrock are still tossing around ideas on the upcoming sequel, but despite the discussion they’ve released the first screenshot of a nice, outdoor fantasy world that is a great shift from the gloomy dungeons of the first game.
This is an interesting switch for the series. It sailed quite a bit on the idea of reviving the old school dungeon crawl, and so moving above ground with much more open environments is also changing the “reviving a classic genre” style.
The developers are still a bit vague on the concept, but they note in a blog post that they had three main storylines they were looking at, and they went ahead and detailed the two they tossed out.
One was a roguelike approach with procedurally generated levels and turn-based content. They said they had an early concept of this called “Grimrogue,” with turn-based combat and a minimap in the corner of the screen. The problem? The player looks at the minimap too often. Graphics are too good for a roguelike (basically). And turn-based combat is weird in a first-person game, as it pulls away from the strategy.
“In the end, we felt that with this design we would lose lots of the appeal of Grimrock, the puzzles and the chaotic nature of realtime combat, so the design was scrapped,” the devs state. “It would certainly be possible to make this sort of game but it wouldn’t have been Grimrock.”
The other concept was one that focused heavily on traveling around the Northern Realms. They had a prototype with a world map, towns, villages, and “adventuring locations.” They say the game would have had a storyline that “ties the main locations together much like the main quest in many RPGs.”
They liked the idea, including the encounters, resource management, dungeons, and puzzles. Yet, this also didn’t work.
They state, “One of the themes in Grimrock 2 will be travelling. We would like to explore the outside world that we hinted in the first game. Travelling vast distances in the world would of course not work tile by tile (btw. tile-based movement is definitely a keeper feature), so Grimrock 2 will have multiple locations and a greater variety of environments. Multiple locations will hopefully improve the pacing of the game (a breather after completing an area), give immediate subgoals for the player (complete the current locale), and more choices (where to travel next).”
“However, one thing that Grimrock 2 will not be is a massive modern RPG. There won’t be zillions of NPCs doing their business and endless wastes of wilderness to travel in. Grimrock 2 will be a different kind of experience with an oldschool heart. We want to keep the core gameplay still tightly centered around the party, tricky puzzles, scary monsters and exploration. Our goal is to make sure that anybody who played the first Grimrock, should be instantly at home with the new game.”
“We really wanted this idea to work. The final paragraph of the unreleased post gives some hints about the problem with this design: “tightly centered around the party”, “focus on exploration”, “instantly familiar with the new game”… The problem with this design is the lack of focus. We believe that the charm of Grimrock is compactness, tight focus and emphasis on fun core gameplay. In Grimrock 1, the environment, the dungeon itself has personality and the quest was personal to the characters. Having multiple locations with different atmospheres and multiple linked goals would take some of that charm away.”
In short: they’re still figuring out what type of game Legend of Grimrock 2 will be. But it will likely have a large world, and it will likely be cool.