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DEVELOPER: Spicy Horse
Everyone knows that the Brothers Grimm stories have been watered down over the years. The initially terrifying tales have been made more acceptable for our increasingly sensitive children, almost to the point where the impact of the original stories has been erased.
Grimm is a bitter and strange individual who tells these old tales to children, but not the way the story books nowadays depict them. He’s bringing them back to the dark side.
This is ‘A Boy Learns What Fear Is’, the first of Grimm‘s 24 episodes. It’s based on the Brothers Grimm story called The Story of a Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear. Not exactly one of their more well-known tales, but it’s a good starting point for this series, as it demonstrates just how pissed off Grimm is at the Disneyfication of the older, darker stories. It’s about a boy who, through ignorance or stupidity, just simply doesn’t know what fear means. His father tries to teach him in the ways of fear by bringing him to a public hanging, sending him off to a haunted house, and employing other methods a great and caring parent would use to raise their kids. You play as Grimm in a platformer of sorts, where he rips apart the new stories and shows just how things used to be.
For example, the hanging grounds-
As you can see, in the game you’ll walk Grimm around and turn things from bright and happy to dark and creepy. When you start you’ll be at the lowest level of darkness, only affecting a little bit of the world around you. As you explore the world the place darkens to your twisted presence, and when you change enough of the world you’ll gain a new darkness level and the radius of your perverted touch gets larger, allowing you to transform objects more easily. You go around and try to change as much of the landscape as you can.
That’s really pretty much all there is to it it. Grimm has a butt stomp move he can perform that explodes the darkness farther than you’d get by just walking around, and you’ll use it to open up some gates and warp some bigger objects like houses. You’ll run into a couple of people and animals that attempt to clean up your mess, but once you get powerful enough you can turn them into minions of darkness as well. Every level you’ll repeat the same thing, doing your best to make the entire world is nice and disturbing.
Simple, right? But I’ll be damned if I could figure out why the hell it’s so fun.
The sense of humor adds a lot to it. It’s just a ton of fun to twist the happy, bright and shiny environments to nightmarish visions, and as you can see the game has a very black sense of humor. It’s violent, gory, but at the same time very tounge in cheek.
The game is the first in a weekly episodic series, so it’s meant to be devoured in quick chunks, with each game taking around 30 minutes to complete. You could definitely do a helluva lot worse for a half hour. But there are some problems with the game. It soon gets old even in its short state, and it’s pretty much impossible to get to the higher levels of darkness without going around and butt-stomping every corner… not a very fun thing to do. You also have to start over from the wimpiest level of corruption every level and hear Grimm yell the same things over and over as you advance levels.
It’s such a simple premise that casual gamers could easily pick it up and have some fun… but it would’ve been nice to have a little more meat to it.
The graphics are actually pretty damn impressive, as it should be- the game’s actually using the Unreal Engine 3. It’s awesome to see how much of the world shifts and changes during some of the later levels, and how many things become animated in the background. The world truly becomes a living nightmare.
The music’s mostly forgettable, but the voice acting keeps things lively. You get a sense that Grimm really enjoys his work, the sick bastard.
Almost none. There’s a couple of coins to collect and you do get judged on how long it takes you to complete a level, but there’s really no incentive to go back. The only reason you might go back is to get a time on GameTap’s leaderboards.
As a bonus for someone with a GameTap subscription, this is shaping up to be a fine series. This premiere episode is available for free, as GameTap knows what any crack dealer knows- give them a taste and they’ll be back next week with cash in their hands. Next week is a fun romp through the world of Little Red Riding Hood, which ends with the pretty goddamn beautiful (if disturbing) death of the wolf. It’s positively brutal.
But as a series that GameTap’s pushing as their latest and greatest original work, it doesn’t live up to the greatness of their last one. Would it be worth it to purchase by itself? Probably not. Still, it’s another perk for the great subscription service, and with a new one coming out every week, this could be a fun ride to jump onto.
7.5 out of 10