The biggest panic moment in Legend of Grimrock arrived early on as I was exploring a rather large room that held no enemies and was dominated by a big pressure pad that stood right in the middle; it was there that I remembered what video game related fear feels like.
Modern video games love to hold a player’s hand and expose him to supposedly deadly situations while making sure that he is not in any actual danger.
All those explosions and bullets in Call of Duty or in Battlefield single player seem designed to never hit the player while delivering a spectacle of death and destruction all around him.
In Legend of Grimrock, every threat is aimed squarely at the four hip joined adventurers that I control and I experience real virtual fear with every new creature or trap.
The feeling of being lost and scared by every shadow around a dark corner can be enhanced for the truly hardcore by turning off the mini-map.
I was not ready for something so extreme, but players report that using actual graph paper and pencils to track movement and map the dungeons of Grimrock adds even meat to the bones of this game.
Knowing the lay of the land (well, the underground) is crucial because for extended sequences you will be guiding your adventurers backward through spaces they have already explored, running away from an overwhelming foe or looking for that perfect spot to take out a group of enemies with minimal losses.
Running away is not shameful and, as I have gone deeper into the dungeon, has pretty much become my go–to tactic.
If I see something that I do not recognize or if I see something that I recognize as potentially deadly, I quickly begin stepping back, remembering the areas around me and choosing a place where I can maximize my survival chances.
I reach that place, think about the routes around me and then step back towards the enemy in order to draw them in and, hopefully, kill it.
I really cannot imagine how one would do this using pen and paper, but the nature of Legend of Grimrock makes me appreciate those who do.