I loved Legend of Grimrock, so the sequel had always been on my list as a must have. However, now that I've played it, I'm rather undecided on a rating. Without a doubt, this is a vastly more diverse and bigger game than Grimrock 1 with lots of playing time, lots of different environments, and lots of replayability. That means lots of value and the game should be more expensive for the amount of content you get. However, it's also a lot more difficult.
A game being hard doesn't intimidate me, but in this case, if you don't want to be dying a lot, it means there is little room for error in regards to choosing the right team from the get go. In Grimrock 2, much of the playing arena has moved outdoors, and although it uses the same mechanics and style of gameplay as the previous game, it somehow doesn't feel the same. The grid movement feels a bit peculiar with no floor tiles and walls to delineate the square and there are many areas where you can get trapped by rocks and bushes with no clear space to move around. Given that the game likes to throw enemies at you in multiples, combat becomes a lot tougher. Although, there are dungeon areas that are more reminiscent of the first game, open areas provide no clear-cut visual references for movement, and that probably accounts for the different feel.
Also, you always seem to be one step behind the enemy in damage output. Of course, this could be a result of just picking the wrong party and traits. On my first playthrough, I forged ahead with a rather weak front-liner who was most often the first to die. On my second playthrough, I chose more wisely and things went a bit easier. But second playthroughs are generally easier anyway as you are familiar with the environs and what to expect. The game is a lot harder on normal mode than the last one simply due to the ease of getting blocked in. Enemies also have immunities as well, so it's imperitive to not only have tanks in the party, but a mage and an alchemist as well.
Although I did like this game well enough, there are a couple of things I have a beef with. One of them has to do with a couple of the puzzles that require up to thirty steps across traps and if you step on the wrong one, you fall into a pit taking damage. This wouldn't be so painful if it wasn't for the fact that damage can only be repaired by either taking a health potion or at a crystal of life. Your health will not regenerate on injuries, so imagine trying to find your way through this puzzle by trial and error multiple times.
I honestly don't know how you can get through this game without the help of a walkthrough. The game is free-roam and an open world, which often means not knowing where to go next, but the real problem is that some puzzles have absolutely no clues about how to solve them. There are some indications in the form of found notes, but many don't have these aids. Of course, there is always the option to reload a save as this game allows quick save, but I have never understood the point of puzzles so complex that this becomes a neccessity.
Another beef has to do with the onscreen interface. With only 4 carrying slots easily visible and accessible, and with most of these being taken up with your weapons, using portions during heavy combat ends up being a little tricky as you must open the character's inventory to do it. This opens a large overlay that can block your sight till it's closed again and you may have to do this for 4 characters during battle. Often the only viable options is to back into an alcove and fight them face on one at a time. So it's important to have two tanks in your front row.
The game has two endings and you will reach a point at which you can choose to end the game and leave the island, but if you choose to go on the last boss is infuriating as there is no way to replenish your inventory if you have run out of ingredients, so keep that in mind. You go from one major end battle into two more, so try to build up a stock before this point and use as few health potions as you can both during the game and during the first battle.
In point of fact, the nature of the boss fight during the "true" ending stole a lot of goodwill from me regarding this game. I tried for probably eight hours to kill him using the methods I had learned playing the rest of the game. It was under the difficult conditions of having little potions and no way to replenish them after the two previous boss fights. Add to that injuries that cannot be healed without said scarce potions and the necessity of having to almost constantly open an interface that completely blocks half of your playing screen whereby you cannot see the enemy movement much of the time and you have an almost impossible situation. After extreme frustration, watching videos and reading advice, it just didn't work out because, guess what, my team and my game is an entirely different set of circumstances to those. But the end of the game is not the time to find out that you should have picked this skill or you should have picked that character or chosen that trait or hogged your potions. In the end, I tossed everything I had learned about fighting and did what your not supposed to do and mounted a frontal attack, which required spamming every potion I had constantly. It took two minutes to kill him. Eight hours versus two minutes if you forget everything you learned.
I quite frankly think that doing sequels to any game is a tricky thing for developers to pull off. Trying to analyse exactly what made a game popular, retaining that, and then adding innovative new stuff can't be easy. After getting over my anger, I can say that Legend of Grimrock 2 is a good game minus the disappointing ending. The visuals are good and interesting, the soundtrack great, and if you like a challenge, you'll like this game. However, if you don't like the basic mechanics of grid movement, you should give it a pass. It takes a while to get used to it if you've had no previous experience with this kind of game.
Although banking on an old-school dungeon crawler was very risky, the developers were passionate fans of this dying genre and it was a gambit they were willing to take. For a small company, Legend of Grimrock turned out to be a rip-roaring success reaching best seller status on Steam when released. It achieved ten times the sales numbers the developers were expecting and its surprising popularity ensured that Almost Human would survive to make a second game.
Material for Legend of Grimrock 2 was originally planned for Legend of Grimrock DLC, but the devs soon realized that they had enough ideas and content for a full sequel instead. Upon release, it too received very positive reviews. Three years later, however, Almost Human does not seem to be working on a new game. Instead, some designers have split off to form a studio called Ctrl Alt Ninja to work on a RPG called Druidstone: The Secret of the Mehir Forest. In their own words, they do not describe themselves as a rival company, but rather as "members of a band who have a dual membership in another band" stating that they will work for Almost Human should they decide to announce a new game.