I missed an episode of Grimm yesterday and I’ve discovered something, I don’t care enough to buy it.
So, I’ve been playing the episodes of Grimm as they’ve been coming out. The Grimm episodes are hardly special, merely arcade-style gaming with a more historical framing device than, say, Gauntlet. They are fun, I won’t disagree with that, but Gametap has made a fatal mistake with this episodic game if they intended it to sell their service.
There is no connection between episodes.
The reason people are hooked into TV shows like Lost, or American Idol, or games like Sam & Max, is because their is some common element between episodes, some sort of evolution of character or plot.
Unfortunately there is no evolution from episode to episode of Grimm. American McGee’s storytelling abilities seem to have gone to waste here. Yes, it is interesting to see the Disney versions of fairy tales turned into something more like their original versions. Yes, Grimm is an amusing character in that way that we are amused by characters who are dirty, grungy, and trying so very hard to be mean. The animation is clever, though considering they are using the Unreal engine, you are left asking: You really couldn’t have done something a little better than this? In principle, Grimm has most of the elements in place to become a good episodic game.
However, the complete lack of connection between episodes is a sale killer. While plenty of people will be willing to log in for some casual gaming fun, the audience has no reason to buy old episodes. There’s nothing to go back and review, as old episodes have no impact on new ones, and there’s no reason to replay, except to keep narrowing down your time, which you should be able to do within the time period of free play.
In fact, the whole idea of scoring the game on time-to-complete seems almost counter-intuitive. Both dark and light worlds are interesting to look at and explore and some of the results of Grimm’s filthy-field are just plain amusing to watch. Rushing through the game, you miss out on what makes it fun. Your spread of darkness and finding of secrets doesn’t change the score in the slightest as far as I can see, which means if you are going for time, there’s no point in Grimming up the whole world or hunting down secrets. And no time to squash those filthy cleaning NPCs as they so rightly deserve!
Even that wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t for the complete lack of connection. McGee is partly known for his mastery of plot in Alice, yet that ability isn’t really displayed here.
Grimm isn’t a bad game, far from it. In fact, I’d highly recommend you try and check out each episode as it goes live and download the one continually free episode, the first. Grimm is good arcade-style fun. It just has no incentive, as an episodic game, to take my quarters. Sorry Gametap.