Backlog Attack! – 2019 Challenge – December

Far be it for me to break a habit. In true Upon Completion style, Khinjarsi has finally turned up to play and write her thoughts on the last game in her Backlog Attack Challenge. While it might be day 2 of 2020 already, Khin actually developed a sort of social lifei in 2019 and took a while to get to the last game in the year-long challenge.

So what was the last game chosen for 2019? How far could Thero throw the gauntlet? Well, the gauntlet turned up in an action roleplaying game that probably would not have been first choice – 2016’s Grim Dawn.

Play time: 2 hours
Achievements: Yes
Steam Trading Cards: Yes
Enjoyed: Mostly – I stopped playing mostly because of an RSI
Would recommend?: If APRGs are your jam, then absolutely. If you are new to APRGs, maybe find one with less in depth reading, lore and customisation first.

I hope you like reading and comprehension, as Grim Dawn throws a lot of text and reading at you, particuarly if you like lore.

Grim Dawn is an action RPG based in the world of Cairn, a world in which humans are at the risk of extinction and caught between two warring factions who want to use the meat sacks for their own nefarious reasons. Your character is a malleable, recently returned from possession meat sack who is (suprise surprise) the one to save the world.

And so begins your journey, in a similar way to almost every APRG – at least to start with. Find some people to help, find some armour and weapons and go hit things until they drop more armour or quest items. Of course, in true APRG style, there’s a million things to learn and mechanisms to pick up, and most of that is going to be through reading. I hope you like reading.

Unlike many ARPGs, movement is with the mouse only (though you can auto walk by pressing A on the keyboard, which still requires the mpouse to point where you want to auto walk), which is fine but tends to cause my RSI to flair up so I can’t play for hours on end. It’s a strange, and uncomfortable choice in this day and age, and it definitely something that puts a limit on how much I can enjoy the game. Combat, luckily is just as simple – click and hold on the monster to attack and assign the number keys to skills, spells and items. Standard APRG fare. I reached Level 10 really quickly and without really leaving the intro area, Devil’s Crossing. With it being so quick and relatively simple to pick up, combat at least provides an alternative to reading the tomes of lore in Grim Dawn.

What I enjoyed in Grim Dawn, weirdly enough, was the inventory management system – “Tetris” (or grid) style. If you have enough blocks to fit that loot, go ahead and pick it up. The system can auto sort the system, but you can manually manage the blocks too. It’s delightfully old school and absoultely works well in Grim Dawn for some reason.

Something not as old school is the ability to multi/hybrid class from relatively early. My character is at level 11 or 12 and already multi classing as a Shaman-Soldier. A “devotion” mechanic adds another layer into the complexity of Grim Dawn character choices, although I didn’t play long enough to encounter this (I wanted to get this post out before Christmas 2020!). Even if you don’t want to multi class, there’s still a massive amount of weapons and armour and crafting abilities to delve into, letting you create the meat sack of your dreams.

Final Thoughts
I was expecting an MMORPG when Thero suggested this. It wasn’t a game I had looked into, and I still can’t remember where it came from. A closer look at the Steam page didn’t really tell me anything different, and although I did mostly enjoy playing it, I don’t find it captivating or different enough to want to go back to it. Put that with the fact I can’t comfortably play it for long stretches means when I do come back to it, I forget what I’m doing and why I’m doing it (particuarly in relation to saving humanity). That’s not to say Grim Dawn is a bad game – if ARPGs are definitely your thing, I fully expect you would enjoy it. Thero and I both agreed this would be both of our December choice and I expect she enjoyed it more than I did, but only because it’s more her style of game.

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