Grimvalor went into early access on 3 May 2019, but it wasn’t until recently that we got around to playing the game. So, here’s our review of this 2.5D action adventure platformer.
Intro and controls
Developed by Direlight, Grimvalor is an action platformer with a dark-fantasy theme. Your goal is to discover the fate of the lost King of Vallaris in this story-driven game. After choosing whether to play a male or female warrior, you then start off in the tutorial stage where the game walks you through the basic controls.
If you’ve played any action games on mobile, the controls would feel quite familiar here: Tap left or right to move in those directions and tap on the respective buttons to attack, jump, or dash. It’s not complicated but you might end up tapping on the wrong buttons occasionally. This happened a lot when we first started playing and later on when we got panicky during some of the boss fights.
Grimvalor is a game with decent visuals. It’s not at the level of AAA titles on consoles or the PC, but for an action mobile game, it’s relatively high-quality. If you like dark-fantasy games like Dark Souls, you would be glad to know that this game draws a lot of inspiration from FromSoftware’s highly popular game.
The dark-fantasy vibe really comes through in this game, with lots of areas where darker colors dominate. For example, there are some areas where we could barely see anything past the light from the torches in the dungeon. Everything else is near pitch-black and the lack of visibility could lead to a deadly misstep or bad jump.
However, there are also relatively well-lit catacombs with thick cobblestone walls, snowy stages, and more. Simply put, there’s enough variety in the environment to keep things interesting visually.
Enemy designs also vary from one Act to another. For example, Act 1 consists mostly of shambling zombies, while another one has swordsmen and archers in armor.
What sets Grimvalor apart from being just another souls-like is the platforming. We enjoyed the freedom the game has with the ability to double jump, air dash and wall climb. The movements are fluid and making your way around can be fast too; it never feels like it takes forever just to get around. And of course, the movement abilities are also key to solving puzzles.
The next thing that we like is how simplified the equipment system is. You get two slots for weapons, one for light attacks and another for charge attacks. Then there’s one slot for armor and a few for trinkets, which are accessories that provide you with bonuses. Another neat item you get quite early is the refillable health potion. However, you can use it only once before you need to refill it at a rest statue.
The stat system is just as simple. You have Vigor (for HP), Savagery (for Damage), Mastery (for attack speed and crits), and Focus (for increase energy from shards). You only get 3 stat points per level up so it’s impossible to raise them all evenly.
The relative ease in which you can clear Act 1 makes it seem that the game is easy. But we quickly found that it wasn’t the case. The game’s difficulty ramps up slowly, usually by throwing more enemies at you. Often, we found ourselves in areas where there are multiple enemies, all with different attack methods and frequency. Such moments are when you’ll need to execute trickier moves to minimize damage taken. The enemies also hit hard so don’t be surprised if you’re punished hard for a bad move.
At the same time, Grimvalor has some mechanics that make the game easier. For one, you can dash consecutively and attack with impunity since there’s no stamina system. Secondly, you don’t lose the soul shards you collect even if you die. However, if you die you get kicked back to the rest statue where you do your levelling. This is annoying if you are constantly dying to a boss that’s 2-3 loading screens away.
Minor complaint aside, this game is a surprisingly long one that would provide many hours of fun action gameplay.
Grimvalor is an enjoyable action platformer. Its controls are simple, the visuals relatively good-looking, and the difficulty is just about right. Sure, you’re going to die a lot, especially if you’re bad at games like this. But if nothing else, you probably won’t get to the point where you throw your phone away in frustration. This is a game you want to play when you have time to focus, but that’s not to say you can’t play it in short bursts.
The game is available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. It’s technically ‘free’ on Android but you need to pay RM27.99 to unlock the full game. As for iOS, you need to pay USD 6.99 (approx. RM28.95) upfront to get the game.