Exploring dungeons step at a time - a guide to gridders!

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Exploring dungeons step at a time - a guide to gridders!

Postby Raggie » Mar 29 2014, 16:08

Now that MMX is out, MM has gone back to its original roots and grid-based first person RPGs ('gridders' for short) have sort of come back in fashion, I though I'd post my short guide to gridders. This guide is meant to help people who have enjoyed the style of MMX and would be interested in trying out other gridders, but are unsure of where to go next. I hope this will be useful to you!

So all of these games are like MMX?

Well, yes and no. Gridders have more variety than they look, and you'll only set yourself up to a disappointment if you expect them to offer the same kind of fun. For example, Etrian Odyssey is about delving and mapping dungeons and building up your characters, while Legend of Grimrock is about solving puzzles and the tight atmosphere, and Might and Magic is more about adventuring in a sandbox with many dungeons and an overworld.

Battles can be either turn-based or real-time. In most of the turn-based ones, combat works like in old-school JRPGs and have random encounters. Real-time battles work around the concept of hit'n run tactics; you're supposed to dance around the enemies and swipe them at opportune moments, while jumping back as they attack you. Both styles of combat have their own tactics and can be just as fun, as long as you understand what makes them tick.

Which ones do you recommend I should play?

This is by no means a comprehensive list. It includes games I have played and personally like, or are commonly recommended by others. I have not included games that are either legally unavailable, or so old that they would be very difficult to get into for someone who doesn't have that much experience with gridders.


-Etrian Odyssey series
Probably the most newbie-friendly Wizardry-like available, especially the newer ones. The first game in the series got a remake for 3DS called Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl. It's probably the best to start either with that, or EO IV.

-Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey
I can't say much about this one since I haven't played it, except that it's gotten good reviews and it has a futuristic setting.

-Orcs & Elves
A streamlined, turn-based gridder without random encounters (you can see the monsters in the dungeon). A very short, but fun little snack.

PSP (Vita compatible)

-Elminage: Original
The reviews were very poor because the localization was terrible. The problems were fixed in a later patch, so feel free to ignore the review scores. It's a terrific game, and my favorite Wizardry clone.

-Class of Heroes 2
This game suffered from the bad reputation of the first game in the series, but everyone seems to agree the second game is heaps better than the first one.

-Unchained Blades
I haven't played it but it's similar to the two games above.


-Doom 2 RPG
Made by the same guys as Orcs & Elves, so it's very similar. Surprisingly good.

Very good, and completely FREE!


-Legend of Grimrock
A Dungeon Master clone, which means it has less emphasis on character building and more on puzzles. Real-time combat. If you like these things, this game is highly recommended.

-Lands of Lore: The Throne of Chaos
Like the game above, it's a Dungeon Master clone. An oldie, but still pretty and very easy to get into. You can buy this from www.gog.com.

-Might and Magic 3-5
Come now, if you liked MMX, you do have to at least give these a try! I know they look so very old, but they have aged surprisingly well and are still some of the finest gridders available. You can buy the Might and Magic 6-pack, which includes these games, from www.gog.com.

Any upcoming gridders I should be aware of?

Sure. These are the ones that I know of, and they may or may not be any good.

-Demon Gaze
Coming soon for the Vita. It's very popular in Japan and importers have been singing it praises, so I have high expectations for it.

-Legend of Grimrock II
Basically seems to be in essence the same as LoG1, but with more varied environments, monsters etc.

A steampunk gridder. On Steam Greenlight right now.

-Dungeon Kings
For Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS. Looks a lot like Grimrock.

-Persona Q
For 3DS. Seems like it'll basically be a Persona-themed Etrian Odyssey.

Sci-fi, turn-based. Has been greenlit for Steam and had a succesful Kickstarter campaign.

-Class of Heroes 3
From what I've heard, each CoH game is better than the previous one so I have fairly high hopes for this one.

-Class of Heroes 2 for PS3
There's a signup drive for a physical run right now: http://www.gaijinworks.com/

-Nights & Candles
*shrug* I know nothing about it, but it's on Steam Greenlight now.

That's all for now. Comments and questions are welcome!

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