Grimm is one of those games that looks so good in videos and screenshots that you go into it thinking it must be terrifically fun to play. But when you dive into its pencil-drawn world, you realize that, like the Victorian era it depicts, it’s far dirtier and less grand than you’d assumed.
Grimm tells the tale of a baby in a carriage that accidentally slips away from the mother’s grasp and goes on a long, seemingly never-ending adventure. It’s a bleak but beautiful game world, full of bare, twisted trees, nasty drunkards, druids, and ghosts. To top it off, a beak-nosed villain follows you around, on a mission to end the baby’s life after it’s only just begun. That’s where you come in. You play as the stroller– yes, the stroller– and your job is to deliver the baby back into the arms of dear old mum.
Skull balloons hurt babies.
The game controls much like the Bounce On series, using tilt to move your stroller left and right, and a button to jump and a button to stop. The tilt mechanism feels a little wonky, but it works well enough when you’re not trying to stop on a dime between a pit and an enemy. You can also do a catapult-like move that shoots the baby (or whatever else you pick up) out of the stroller. Child safety issues aside, this move almost never registers the first time you try, so you have to tap and drag two or three times before you’ll execute a successful launch. This is a big problem because you have to use the catapult many times each level to flip switches that are out of reach.
Nearly every environmental puzzle– and there are many– requires you to launch objects to clear the path in front of you. In these instances, not only does the unreliable catapult mechanic get in the way, but the animation the stroller goes through to pick things up takes several seconds to complete. So if you have to load three skulls into a basket to move on, you first have to toss the baby out (using the frustrating catapult mechanic), then scoop up a skull (queue the too-long stroller animation), and launch the skull into the basket (frustrating catapult again). By the time you sink the first skull, the baby has crawled back to the stroller, so the stroller automatically scoops up the baby (long animation), and you have to repeat the process twice more (catapult, animation, catapult, animation, catapult etc.).
Baby’s first sip of beer.
Then, when you cross the path you cleared by “solving” the “puzzle,” what do you find on the other side? Another basket you have to fill with skulls! And if– heaven forbid– you die after completing that puzzle, you get sent back to the most recent checkpoint, which– you guessed it– places you back before both puzzles. This is just one example from a level in the middle of the game, but every level is similarly structured.
And while the game starts off easy, it becomes difficult mostly because the controls make navigating the environment difficult or because of the too-frequent cheap shots. Bottles, arrows, or iron beams will frequently fly in from offscreen so quickly that your poor carriage can’t move out of the way fast enough to avoid them.
We’ve made the game sound like a major chore to play– and it often feels that way– but that doesn’t take away from its gorgeous art style and occasional inspired touch. There aren’t many games out there with as much personality and as unified an atmosphere as Grimm. However, the game desperately needs to be trimmed and tweaked. Our advice, if this game looks good to you, is to wait for an update. If it ever comes, we’ll update this review to let you know.