Grimind is a 2D puzzle platformer with a heavy dose of atmosphere and jump scares, that also happens to be the solo project of developer Pawel Mogila. Although it’s graphically evident that it’s the work of one person, and it’s not always very fun, it still provides some neat puzzle designs and an interesting story.
Playing as something that resembles a shaved Critters monster, you’ll navigate dark corridors draped in silhouettes while wondering where you are, why you’re there, and what lies in the darkness. It’s a little bit Limbo, but not nearly as polished. Your little critter guy frequently speaks aloud, and although the game’s broken English is comedic at times, it eventually gives way to a fairly interesting story that may or may not make it easier for you to overlook the game’s shortcomings.
Grimind‘s first act is full of platforming, but eventually the platforming becomes minimal as the game shifts its focus more towards brain teasing puzzles. Now I’m all for puzzles if they’re well executed (like Braid, for instance), but some of them left me completely oblivious as to what to do next. What’s worse is that most of them fell victim to the game’s pretty horrendous checkpoint system, where dying in the middle of moving orbs back and forth would result in having to repeat the entire process over and over again.
Dying is inevitable in Grimind, and trust me, you’ll die often, so if you’re the type whose soul is easily crushed, you may want to consider another alternative. Death is usually terrifying as well, since this is where the jump scares came in to play. While exploring zones, our hairless hero would sometimes draw the attention of weird black square monsters with red eyes, who tend to shriek loudly in your eardrums and induce panic attacks. These little barrages of terror were definitely my favorite part of Grimind, as no matter how often I died, and how many times I reminded myself they were there, I still jumped.
A platformer is also only as strong as its gameplay, and this is where Grimind really stumbles. Platforming itself is extremely floaty, which generally made things more frustrating than entertaining, especially during any sort of climbing segment. This is also coupled with a poorly executed grab and throw mechanic, which regularly caused held items to rotate around the critter at inconvenient times while using a controller.
It does feature fairly decent audio work, especially in the critter’s odd whimpering and pathetic drowning sounds. It did a good job of making me feel bad for the little.. thing.. and combined well with the odd bits of story in the latter half of the game, but it just felt like a chore to actually reach that point.
Grimind is definitely an ambitious title, especially for one person to undertake, but unfortunately it doesn’t do much very well. Unless you really enjoy puzzles and frequent jump scares, I can’t really recommend it as a platformer; although it has received a decent amount of praise elsewhere. Level designs are full of repetitive, low-res textures, poorly executed climbing segments, and felt very uninspired outside of their lighting effects and game-defining moments of loneliness and terror. I did enjoy the story that Pawel Mogila was trying to tell, but I don’t think that this game was the right format. At least not in its current state.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling news, reviews, and a bit of our public relations communications. He’s an aspiring writer and Baltimore native that can usually be found watching terrible B-movies or knee-deep in a roguelike, a horror game or some sort of point-and-click adventure. His favorite console is the Dreamcast, favorite game is the original Metroid, and he could watch The Goonies for the rest of his life. Contact him by e-mail at the address above, or follow his insanity on Twitter.