Legend of Grimrock originally appeared on PC and Mac. Upon release it initially felt like a bit of a throwback, with it turn-based, first-person action drawing heavily upon the classic Eye of the Beholder series of RPGs. But, given some time, it soon becomes clear that it does mix up the formula in important ways - adding modern visuals, game design principles, and touch controls - to create something truly exciting.
A grim tale
The tale has your team of four prisoners abandoned at the top of Grimrock, a mountain jail, with the promise of freedom if they can make it through and escape its many claustrophobic floors. Not that your captors see much change of this, as no one has ever safely navigated the trap filled dungeon - which I can believe, because the deeper levels of this game do prove a real challenge.
You have to make your way through Grimrock's stone halls one square at a time, managing your squads formation, weapons, armor, and health. With monsters and pitfalls around every corner, you had better think twice about having that archer and magician in the front row of your team when that giant spider attacks… they tend to work better hiding behind the more burly, heavily armored barbarians.
A touch of terror
The move to iOS has been a fantastic one for this dungeon crawler, with every one of the game's various game systems perfectly moved over to the mobile touch interface.
Every element of the PC and Mac game is faithfully reproduced, from the brilliant puzzles to the dank visuals that so brilliantly evoke Grimrock itself. Swipes and taps work well to control the action, and the various drag-and-drop menus that form the inventory just feel right under your thumbs.
Finally, the turn-based movement, combat, and problem solving mean that you are never placed under time pressures. The result is that you are never required to quickly manipulate options or more complex tasks, allowing you time to make and undo mistakes that in a real-time game could easily frustrate.
Legend of Grimrock is an absolute must for all old-school D&D gamers looking for a challenge. Newcomers with an interest in the genre certainly should not be put of either, just do be prepared for this involving and expansive RPG to be more paced and challenging than you are used to.