The world ended a long time ago, I’m here surviving each day even though there is nothing left to fight for.
Grim Dawn was the first project created by the development company Crate Entertainment. Members of Iron Lore Entertainment--who were responsible for Titan Quest and its expansion--left after the company couldn't find funding for their next project. Some members moved to Crate Entertainment and started making a new series. Crate announced in 2010 they were building Grim Dawn on a modified Titan Quest Engine. Based on an apocalyptic world that has been overrun by monsters, mutants, and bandits. Reminiscent of Diablo 2 and Torchlight, Grim Dawn has great ARPG aspects. It shows that with time and commitment, early access games can be great.
Grim Dawn is based in the Victorian era world called Cairn that was devastated by war, violence, and magic. The story begins with 3 Heroes of Devil's Crossing, a local safe haven, hanging a human that was possessed by an evil Aetherial Demon. The Aetherial explains they are fighting a war with the Chthonian demons, both of which have their own plans to use and destroy the human race. The heroes hang the possessed human until they witness the Aether demon leave in a magic plume of smoke, then they cut the human down. You wake up to one of the heroes informing you that the Aether possessed your body, and they saved you. The player’s story begins here in the world of Cairn, as they fight for their lives and try to stop an otherworldly war to save the human race.
6 different classes in Grim Dawn can be combined to create powerful subclasses. The Arcanist, Demolitionist, Nightblade, Occultist, Shaman, and Soldier classes are for point investments, to gain or enhance class abilities. The player chooses between powering up one single class or taking skills from several classes to make a jack-of-all-trades. Each class has unique powers that overlap each other. For instance, you may choose to be a rifle-wielding Demolitionist while using the Occultist animal summons to keep enemies away from the hero. The subclasses are flexible and exciting. You create your own personal build for the character. There isn’t any build that's necessarily better than another, making each hero created distinctive.
This is a lore-heavy hack n’ slash dungeon crawler with plenty of action to keep the player occupied until the very end of the bastion of chaos.
ARPG’s are a popular genre in the gaming community. The fan-following for the Diablo and Titan Quest series proves this. Grim Dawn’s mechanics make adventuring enjoyable as you uncover more of the map, kill a great number of enemies, and complete quests. Golden stars indicate where a quest is located on your map, making uncovering it pleasing. Exploring every area will be worth your time for experience, better loot, side-quests, and new waypoints. Waypoints allow the player to travel back to old explored areas, so the player doesn't waste time traversing the map when having to return. Some quests require you to explore the map without a gold star indicator for where the cave or dungeon entrance is. Those quests are available after earning reputation in the cities and settlements you pass. Reputation allows the player to purchase better items from the quartermasters of each settlement, along with bounties being made available.
The choices the player makes affect the world and your chosen path. As reputation grows with one faction, it lowers with another. How revered or despised you are with each faction determines several things: purchasable items at shops, money for quests, and difficulty of the increasing number of enemies. The choices can be different each time, giving great replay value. Grim Dawn's choice and skill systems makes it shine amongst similar titles in the genre.
There are a couple downsides to Grim Dawn that can be easily overlooked. The lighting is dark, and I mean dark. Exploring dungeons can become a little redundant since the mini map is rather small and hard to follow; I often find myself pressing the map key just to reorient myself. While surveying land and uncovering the map is enjoyable and profitable, the lack of dungeon lighting takes away that freedom of movement and direction. Some would argue that it's a good mechanic in an ARPG, but I would have to disagree. Sometimes dark dungeons take away from the pace and efficiency I felt while playing Grim Dawn. The issue with this is being unable to see your enemies attack. My summoned creatures also get caught up in the mob of enemies. I appreciated the revamping of the keyboard layout for Diablo 3, and how interchangeable your spells and attacks were. Another small issue I had with the keyboard mapping applied to gameplay. In Grim Dawn, I had all my best attacks lined up and ready to button mash for each group of baddies I eliminated. I was just hitting #1-9 plus both mouse buttons as much as possible to eliminate crowds of enemies. This seems redundant to players who are unfamiliar with ARPG’s, and makes them stop playing after a few hours.
Grim Dawn is a great adventure filled with action, a rich story, and plenty of exploration. The large amount of class and choice combinations makes replaying enticing. You will want to know everything that happens on the world of Cairn. The quests are exciting and engaging. They help the player level up and find better items to take on the toughest enemies. You are the only hero that can save Cairn because of the Aetherial possession that was exorcised from you. Will you take up the challenge of saving all human civilization? I know I will.