Review: Grim Dawn (PC)

You know, it wasn’t even until I started writing this that I realized that Grim Dawn was not actually made by the same people that made the excellent classic Diablo-clone, Titan Quest. I backed this game on Kickstarter five years ago or so and thought for some reason that it was the same people. Looking at it and/or playing it, it’s easy to see how one could make this mistake, as they’re almost identical games in many ways, but as it turns out, developers Crate Entertainment licensed the Titan Quest engine from the creators to create this game.

So if you’ve played Titan Quest or a Diablo game, you know basically what to expect here, with the only real difference being that this particular adventure is wrapped up in a darker, horror themed wrapper. To be a little more specific, it takes place in some kind of alternate world that’s sort of a gothic fantasy with a certain level of simple technology thrown in. It actually resembles the world of Bloodborne in a lot of ways, now that I think of it.

On one hand, I must admit that Crate Entertainment did a great job of taking such an old engine and making it look so fresh and new, while still being able to run very well on outdated old systems like my own. The abilities of each class, and the way you can start putting them together into explosively effective combos, are easy to figure out and quite fun and nice to look at too (though I might suggest you try the game on a difficulty above normal, as my time with normal mode a bit too easy). This is where the good news ends for me though, because all these nice parts are buried under the shadow of a mountain of technical problems.

Do you know how long it took me just to get the game to start? Two. Hours. Two hours to get past the main menu because it would just crash immediately when I pressed start. Two hours of messing with settings and looking up and trying different solutions online, and let me tell you, there was a lot to dig through and try, because it turns out that this game has a LOT of problems. I finally got past the menu by having to add a special launch command that I found in some discussion thread to the startup instructions in Steam. All of this just to get the game to start, and this was just the beginning of my troubles.

The game may have finally started, but it sure didn’t want to stay started. About an hour into the game, I received a pop-up telling me that the expansion had finished downloading, which I thought had been done when I bought it and updated the game the day before, so I restarted the game so I could access all the content that I thought was already enabled. I had to try five times to get the game to start again and this seemed to be the regular ritual for starting the game, as if it was some rusty old lawn mower with a bad starter.

The game also seemed to hate its own fast travel system, as teleporting back to town seemed to have about a 50/50 chance of making the game crash again. This didn’t hinder my progress at all at first, as I’d usually be teleporting back to town when I’d finished clearing an area out and reached the next permanent portal, so the game restarting and respawning every single creature didn’t have much effect…yet. The further I got into the game, the more random crashes happened, to the point where they even started happening out in the regular game world. Restarting the game not only causes every area to fully repopulate with enemies, but also makes any personal portal you had created disappear, so a crash that doesn’t happen in town means you’ll have to redo the entire section you crashed in.

According to Steam, I spent around seven hours actually playing the game, not counting however many hours I spent actually trying to get the game working again. During that time the game crashed somewhere between fifty and a hundred times, and once I hit the point where I was having to replay the same area multiple times to get through it without a crash ruining everything, I just couldn’t take it anymore. Honestly, the only reason I even put up with it as long as I did was that I got the game through Kickstarter and so was ineligible for a Steam refund. I tried so hard to enjoy Grim Dawn, and I really did when it would actually let me play the damn thing, but I just value my time too much to continue wasting any more time on something so broken. Maybe someday in the future all the bugs will be ironed out and I’ll have it in me to try again, but given that it’s still in such a broken state for me and so many other people when the game’s been out for almost two years now, I won’t be holding my breath.

Grim Dawn is available now digitally for Windows.

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