GrimGrimoire OnceMore Review – A Unique Wizarding World Experience
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is not a new game, but it is one that needed a facelift. Originally released for the PS2, it follows the trend of recent Vanillaware remasters, attempting to revive a classic game lost to the ravages of time. While it may not be Vanillaware’s best game, it offers interesting content, a magical story, and a charming cast of characters set in an intriguing world.
Unlike Odin Sphere and Dragon Crown, which are side-scrolling action games with a mix of RPG elements, GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a strategy RPG with visual novel elements. The story unfolds through beautifully drawn character artwork, and the game’s overall aesthetic is quite impressive. Despite some questionable design choices, most of the artwork resembles a typical Vanillaware game.
As someone who never played the original, starting GrimGrimoire OnceMore for the first time felt like diving into a game inspired by the Harry Potter franchise, with shades of Atelier. It was no surprise to learn that the developers drew inspiration from these franchises. The main protagonist, Lillet Blan, arrives as a trainee witch at a magical school. Over five days, she learns the ins and outs of magic, until one night, the academy is destroyed. The gameplay loop revolves around Lillet getting stuck in a time loop, reliving these days, and trying to figure out how to stop the events that lead to the academy’s destruction.
The story is engaging, and the writing is mostly functional, with strong character development. Cutscenes are presented through simple artwork with text dialogue, and character designs are uniquely Vanillaware. The remastered graphics are visually appealing, even if not cutting-edge, and many of the original release’s quirks have been cleaned up. This feels like a budget release, which was indeed the case when it first launched on the PS2 as a stop-gap for Vanillaware while working on Odin Sphere.
The game’s narrative is captivating and sparks the imagination from the beginning. If you’re playing solely for the story, you won’t be disappointed. Characters are well-executed, with strong development and unique features setting them apart. However, this doesn’t carry over to the gameplay, which feels like an entirely different game. The primary focus is on 2D side-scrolling RTS gameplay, with missions typically involving destroying the enemy’s base or surviving a horde of enemies.
The game offers three difficulty levels, a refreshing addition. The default difficulty provides a balanced challenge, while harder and easier settings adjust gameplay and skill availability accordingly. Normal mode should be suitable for most players. The 2D RTS system is well-implemented, and in-game tutorials cover nearly every major aspect, making it easy to grasp.
This release includes improved visuals, addressing some of the original PS2 version’s major problems. Additionally, GrimGrimoire OnceMore features numerous quality-of-life adjustments and gameplay tweaks, making it easier to play and understand the mechanics, which could be complex in the original release. The main campaign remains untouched, with clever writing and solid character development. The story offers plenty of twists and turns for hours of entertainment.
However, not everything is perfect with this release. It still relies on some dated concepts, leading to repetitive maps and a lack of variety. Each level usually features a set of tasks to complete, but the map layouts are often too similar, making it feel as if we’re just doing the same tasks repeatedly. The story also tends to overstay its welcome, becoming repetitive due to the story loop.
Overall, GrimGrimoire OnceMore can be an enjoyable 2D RTS, but it may not please fans of Vanillaware’s past releases. It feels dated in certain aspects, suffers from repetitive gameplay and story loops, and can become tedious if not for the quality-of-life improvements like the ability to fast forward through battles. Nonetheless, it is a fun game that can prove to be challenging if the player invests enough time. While GrimGrimoire OnceMore may not be the definitive Vanillaware experience, it offers a captivating story and a unique blend of gameplay that can entertain players who are willing to overlook its shortcomings.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore Game Information
- Price: $49.99
- Publisher: NIS America
- Developer: Vanillaware
- Platform: PS4 (Reviewed)
- Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher