Released by Almost Human in 2012, Legend of Grimrock is dungeon crawler and prison break game rolled into one. You take control of a prisoner who may or may not be actually guilty sentenced to live out his days confined to Mount Grimrock. Unbeknownst to your jailors, however, there's a intricate set of tunnels that lead to the mountains base, and you along with three companions attempt to escape through them. It's not a simple walk to freedom, though, many traps and terrible monsters wait in these caves to turn your life sentence into a death sentence.
Note: The run was made on the v.1.1.3 version where the in-game timer still counts the character creation screen.
Best time on Easy difficulty: 1:01:35 by Alex 'Pongsifu' Biffar on 2012-04-21, done in 23 segments.
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I decided to go with a fairly standard build, two warriors in front and a rogue/mage in back. My reasoning being that I would be under-equipped and under-leveled so the warriors would provide a buffer that multiple mages or front-line rogues would not. Putting points into dodge for a rogue in the front line would take away too much from their DPS and I worried that multiple mages would lead to running out of energy potions. Here is a breakdown of each character.
Left Warrior: Focused almost entirely on armors for protection with strength and vitality for damage and more survivability, same with the traits. Midway through the run I put 3 points into maces in order to use a warhammer, one of the only maces that don't have an accuracy penalty.
Right Warrior: Being a minotaur, I had to put points into dexterity instead of vitality in order to break even on accuracy, traits are the same as the first Warrior.
Rogue: I pump everything into Assassination to gain the ability to use daggers from the back row as soon as possible, which is why I choose the Skilled perk, for added points towards it. This is followed up by daggers once the reach ability is acquired. I chose melee rather than throwing or archery because it is more reliable and missile weapons are almost all far out of the way and arrows would be very limited. Not to mention any arrow used on an enemy that moves out of the way will keep your arrow unless killed. Then there is the arrow fetching...
Mage: It was a difficult decision on what type of mage to go, between fire, ice, or air. I suppose any of them would have worked, although fire would have had a very hard time dealing with the unavoidable fire mages on level 7. Air would not only give the lightning spell, but also invisibility. However, I stayed at a very low level throughout the run and I would not have acquired the spell until the end of level 9, rendering it nearly pointless. That left me with ice. While not as damaging as the other two, and the end boss being immune to it, it also gives me a crowd control ability. I don't have time for back peddling every enemy and freezing them allows me to avoid damage. Starting out, however, I put two points into fire in order to get the starting spell. The low level ice spell isn't very useful for its cost, so I relied on the beginning fire spell to do the damage I needed early on. The traits chosen are the basic and obvious mage traits.
Looking back on it now, the couple of mistakes I made, like running into a wall, while only costing me a split second, sticks out to me like a sore thumb. Unfortunately, favorable enemy spawns are the most important factor, no matter how many times I try to replicate, the run with minor mistakes is sometimes the fastest. The only really notable thing on such a simple level is the skeleton guard. The reason I stopped to kill him when I could have gone around is for his shield, and, more importantly, his pike. The pike will allow my rogue to attack from the back row until she reaches high enough Assassination skill. This is very vital for the next couple levels. Also, I pass up the crystal of life, assuming my party is already healed up, but because my mage's energy bar is not visible and I don't see that I am nearly out of energy. This plays a small role in the second floor and is a mistake I make sure not to repeat ever again.
Since the machete is in the same room as a required key it is not much of an excursion. However I do decide to stop in an options side room for additional armor, as well as opening another simple secret room for a helmet. This is actually one of my earlier runs of the level, which is why there are again a few minor mistakes, but again, the enemy spawns are nearly perfect. I don't get stopped for combat at all in the final hallways full of mushroom men. Every other attempted run I would be stopped by at *least* two or three of them.
The reason I stand still and wait to drop one of the skeleton guards in an early room is because they will pretty much always surround me otherwise. Unfortunately this floor almost doesn't even feel like a speed run because there is just so much required combat. More so than any other floor. Spiders are the fastest enemy in the game and trying to go around them will just cause them to surround you. Add their poison ability to this and you will quickly be killed. In the first room full of them I was normally able to leave one alive and avoid it while I picked up the equipment, but this time he decided to come out with the rest of them. The only thing I really go out of my way for is a book that provides extra health. Towards the end of the run when I get cornered by a spider, the reason I keep turning away was to try and keep the minotaur alive. It worked, just barely, but poisoned the rogue in the process. However, she survived just as long as she was needed.
Right off the bat you are forced into combat. The Mushroom man on the left is always the one to drop the key. This floor is different in that, rather than being a long set of corridors and puzzles, it is four puzzles connected to a central room, letting you choose the order. I choose to do the two most variable puzzles first. The first puzzle I was initially doing second, but it turned out to be the most painful. The amount of skeletons in the narrow hallways meant I would get cornered a vast majority of the time. The second puzzle is also very variable, as the skeletons can spawn in very bad positions and not want to walk into their cages. This particular spawn isn't perfect, but not terrible. Then there's puzzle three. The variable is a bird that dies with one hit. Sounds easy, but it of course managed to get me killed a few times by getting in the way. After this there is a tentacle monster that is unavoidable and, unfortunately, have a ridiculous amount of health. The fourth puzzle, I duck into an alcove in an attempt to get the bird waiting behind the skeleton to lose interest and fly away, but this is a mistake, as it allows the bird behind me to block me. And of course the second bird doesn't even fly away. Finishing the four puzzles actually unleashes a large amount of enemies, but I'm not sticking around for that.
In my practice run of this level, I was able to complete it without fighting a single mob. Something that I was unable to ever replicate again. There are a few things to note here. The reason I plant a torch on top of the key is because it is on a pressure plate that sets off a trap otherwise. I get a fair amount of equipment from this floor and I also had a pair of ring greaves worked into my run, but a crab spawned in the way, so they were left behind. I make a slight detour for a warhammer, something that I can't use for a couple more floors due to a lack of mace skill. The skeleton guards that spawn near the stairs at the very end of the level are actually the main spawn variable of this floor and they get in the way, forcing combat, a majority of the time. Being the very end of the floor, this was very frustrating.
Surprisingly, this is one of the easiest floors of the entire run. There are 4 keys on this floor but only 3 are needed to progress, meaning you can choose to eliminate one puzzle. The one near the exit was an obvious keeper, so the other two I chose were the two right next to each other. In the first one, the skeleton guard needed to step onto the plate takes what seems like a century to walk over to me, but the snails in the second area spawn favorably. Some are even turned around, lending themselves vulnerable to my rogue's very rarely utilized backstab ability. That is about it to say about this one. I had expected this to be one of the longer floors when I initially planned the run, but it turned out to be one of the shortest.
Ah, slimes, the bane of my existence. This was by far the most frustrating level to run. The slimes at the beginning, while possible to bypass without combat, would take upwards of thirty tries before they spawned in the right order. This is what finally caused me to break down and start segmenting mid-level. I actually had a full run of the level, but getting past the slimes was so rare that I made large mistakes later on due to lack of practice. Segmenting the level allowed me to cut several minutes off of my time, which was well worth the half second save penalty. From here on out I start utilizing mid-level saves because it allows me to polish runs better. Something that likely would have prevented some of my mistakes on the early floors. Though I still liked doing full floor segments better. Back to the level itself, after the slime section is another annoying part. A series of hallways filled with fire mages. They are completely unavoidable due to their location. This delays me quite a bit, but does get me some useful experience points. It does however, force me to use more energy potions than any other floor. After that it is fairly smooth sailing. I stop to get a very nice dagger that even has life-stealing properties. Something quite useful since the rogue is my lowest priority for health potions.
This is an optional floor, so obviously I skip it.
For those unfamiliar with this game, this floor plays a few tricks on you unless you walk in the correct pattern, which is why I back up a couple times in a hall and dance around pillars in another. This was the floor I worried about the most. Those raptors are immune to ice and I wasn't sure if I would be able to bypass them without combat. Luckily I was able to with enough effort, though I wasn't able to nab a nice crown for my rogue because they spawned all over it. It was so randomized I had to use a save point before and after it. Before that point though, I make a small detour to the armory. This is primarily because I did not have arrows, which are required for a later puzzle, but I also get a piece of armor and a bomb. There is also very good axe hidden in the room, but it requires 10 points in axes, something I wasn't willing to spend. Skipping to the very end, we have he part that absorbed quite a bit of time, the spiral hallway. Here I have to walk up and down a very long corridor several times. While it is probably possible to fight the ogres, I would have to back up as far as I did anyway in the process, all while freezing them and slowing them. Just luring them away as quickly as I could was a much faster option, even if it did take forever.
The beginning of this may be somewhat confusing to watch because some of my actions seem arbitrary, but this is actually the least obtuse solution I could find while avoiding as much combat as possible and not having the enemies block the puzzle. One raptor decides to follow me into the next area and almost gets me killed but I narrowly escape. Again I add a break segment because the beginning section can end up in a lot of different ways. From here it is kind of simple, just run through everything, picking up gear as I go along. The two puzzles here are very simple, so it all comes down to enemies not spawning in your way. The first puzzle is just flipping a few levers and then escaping through ogres, mages, and scavengers. The second is another Indiana Jones style trap that I equalize with a torch.
This floor is sealed off for now and is skipped.
Level Twelve and Thirteen:
You can actually skip the text when you open the door by hitting ESC but I didn't realize this at the time. First I jump down the hole that I think gives me the fastest collection rate of the parts I need and then portal back up. Getting hit by the Wardens or mages while putting the pieces in doesn't matter much because I'll be healed on floor eleven. Once the parts are in, I wait for the portal to appear for the next floor.
Level Eleven Revisited:
Just a few puzzles. Because I get healed at the end of the floor, I don't bother using health potions to keep the party alive. In fact, I only use one item on the floor traps in the second puzzle because that is all I needed to survive (all three would kill me).
Back to floor 12 and things just got a lot harder. Not only are there enemies everywhere, but since I skipped the Wardens, they are roaming around as well. Plus some additional mages that I also let live. Some of the enemies in this room can kill by back row party members in a single blow. After getting the 4 pieces out with my entire party still alive I decide to do a save segment, because the boss battle is by no means a cakewalk. There are just so many enemies to block or trap you or even holes to pits down. Once he can actually take damage I use everything I have, including my rogue's speed potion. He is immune to ice, so my mage has to use his basic fire attack and the rogue's ice bombs are useless. The cube will actually try to trick you every once and a while by switching up his pattern to go backwards, but he goes down rather quick. Well, at least as quick as an under-equipped and under-leveled party can do it. And that's it. I stop and note the in-game time, so you can also see some other stats about the run as well.
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