My Favorite things in 2014 - Day 1

I can't quite believe that it's the first of December already. As the year draws to an end it's naturally the time of year that we reflect on things, and people like making lists. I'm no different.

Thus, this series of posts will serve as a kind of 'advent calendar of cool stuff' through the course of December. This post will be the start of the list of things I've liked over the last twelve months. They might be games, might be books, movies, or comics.

They'll be presented in no particular order, just a collection of the things I have enjoyed this year.

So let's kick things off with an old fashioned dungeon crawler ...

... and in this case I really mean old fashioned. Legend of Grimrock 2, like its predecessor, takes its mechanics from classic titles like Dungeon Master, and Eye of the Beholder. However it manages to combine those influences with great visuals and some pretty damned clever level design to very skillfully be something that feels modern while remaining true to it's roots.

This second installment doesn't really evolve many of the mechanics any from it's first installment, but it does ramp up the level design and feel fairly dramatically. Whereas the first game firmly stayed underground in it's drab dungeons, the sequel has allowed the developers to stretch out some and move beyond simple corridors, doors, and gates. 

This time around we are on an island, complete with beaches, forests, rivers, and bridges ... oh, and some dungeons of course! Much of the time you actually forget you are restrained to just the four movement axis, and that's down to the excellent level design. The game-play doesn't suffer from the addition of open areas, and that allows for a much more visually diverse experience.

Underground is still where the game-play truly shines however, with more non-linear dungeons that require exploration, thought, and some smarts to complete. There are no straight paths here, and while the save system is still relatively forgiving for the genre, it feels just about right. The puzzles make sense, and you always know that if you are stuck you missed *something* and can set about exploring for the solution.

I had a lot of fun with this one, and would heartily recommend it to anyone who is looking for some old school dungeon crawling.