It is safe to say that I have been on an Action-RPG (ARPG) kick for a good while now. With a multitude of AAA releases trying to pass themselves off as ARPGs, it’s a breath of fresh air to find a genuine ARPG, complete with dungeons, multiple stat categories, and loot of course. This kick of mine did not start with the game in focus, but I am indeed glad I started playing Grim Dawn instead.
Recently released in February by Crate Entertainment, this ARPG plants you in the middle of a conflict that has humanity on the ropes. The foray of researchers towards beings composed of aether yielded two results. The first: humans who were possessed by an Aetherial, and then purged of the possession, gained new abilities, such as dominion over magical arts. The second: a breakout by the Aetherials, and subsequent opening of aether portals to the human realm of Cairn. Thus began the conflict humanity found themselves in the middle of.
As your time with the game begins, you find your character to be possessed by an Aetherial, and about to be hanged. The Aetherial flees your doomed body, and you are saved by the leader of Devil’s Crossing, one of humanity’s last holdouts. Since they are low on manpower, he sends you on your first quest, find the source of corpses being reanimated. It is upon starting this quest that you learn how desolate of a land this region has become, and how dire the stakes are.
Of course, you’re not going on these quests with just the clothes on your back. Over time, you will find or buy new items and weapons that help to make you a more dangerous opponent for any monster or deranged human that made the mistake of crossing your path. And if you take down enough enemies, your character levels up, as is tradition. This game boasts six classes to choose from, with the ability to select a second one at level 10. Soldier, Demolitionist, Occultist, Arcanist, Nightblade, and Shaman are what you have to pick from, and it is imperative that you pick something that works with your playstyle.
Since I fancy being a ranged player, I picked Demolitionist as my first class, and Occultist as my second. Lighting enemies on fire, with my variety of firearms and supply of explosives, meshes quite nicely with the supporting curses and hexes of the Occultist. As I have a high damage output, I aim to take on hero and boss characters first before shifting focus to the grunts of their forces. However, I have an Achilles heel: I am quite close to being a glass cannon. Most of my equipment and skill choices augment my offense, and a par job of defense. This is why you bring friends.
Multiplayer is a very enjoyable experience if you play with friends, especially if they complement your playstyle. While I like to be some distance from the battle, my friend likes to be in the thick of things, chopping monsters into gore paste. He’s perfect for crowd control, thanks to certain magical abilities, while I take down hero units with relative ease. We have recently completed the normal difficulty, and are going back for a second run in the Elite difficulty.
ARPGs have a long loved history with a great amount of people, especially for fans of Diablo. If you have history with the genre, pick up this game. If you’ve found previous games in the genre to be not your cup of tea, then you will probably not find this game fun. The genre is not for everyone, but for those who can enjoy it will be looking at a campaign that clocks in with about 40 hours, with moderate exploration and quest completion. With all of that time spent, and more free content and campaigns coming in the near future, I can safely say I got my money’s worth for its $25 price tag.
★★★★★ “Exceptional. A prime experience that should not be missed.”