Time waits for no one.
But it certainly likes to repeat itself Lillet Blan, an aspiring magician who wants to reach great heights in GrimGrimoire OnceMore.
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A remaster of the original GrimGrimoire that was released in 2007, GrimGrimoire OnceMore attempts to breathe new life into the game with tweaked visuals and some new mechanics.
Is it worth another visit to the Tower of Silver Star?
GrimGrimoire OnceMore: The quick take
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a real-time strategy game with a twist.
Like many RTS games, GrimGrimoire OnceMore requires you to build and manage resources while commanding troops against enemy forces determined to wreck your installations.
While most RTS games employ a top-down view of a battlefield where you command troops and oversee resources, however, GrimGrimoire OnceMore uses a 2D side-scrolling perspective with multiple floors. GrimGrimoire OnceMore also uses lush, hand-drawn visuals for its units, bucking the bird’s-eye, ant-like renditions that often characterize units from other games in the genre.
At the same time, the gameplay in GrimGrimoire OnceMore is also simpler compared to some of the more hardcore RTS games out there.
The fantasy-based story, meanwhile, is more compartmentalized. Instead of the epic narratives involving large warring nations or factions, the story of GrimGrimoire OnceMore is centered on strange events inside a magic academy and is more akin to a mystery novel.
GRIMGRIMOIRE ONCE MORE: WHAT’S GOOD?
- The characters: Good characters are essential to any story and GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s diverse cast of misfits make its tale even more interesting to say the least.
- The story: Despite lacking an epic scale, GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s tale of mystery keeps you guessing about what happens next, which is great for player engagement.
- The visuals: GrimGrimoire OnceMore uses developer Vanillaware’s trademark dreamy, hand-drawn art style, which gives it a unique look compared to most games. The remake also gets a new aspect ratio and higher resolution for today’s TV displays.
- The sound: GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s soundtrack is easily one of the best things about the game. It has a magical and, at times, playful quality to it that’s pleasing to hear. The option for Japanese and English voice acting also helps with the immersion.
- New additions: GrimGrimoire OnceMore could have just done a simple visual remaster and called it a day. The game, however, also adds in new mechanics to give even players of the original game a new experience.
GRIMGRIMOIRE ONCE MORE: WHAT COULD BE BETTER?
- A bit on the light side: While the RTS mechanics are accessible, especially for players new to the genre, they can be a bit simple for hardcore strategy players.
- Can feel repetitive: Once the sheen of the initial experience wears off, GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s gameplay can start to feel repetitive. To be fair, though, this is an issue with RTS games — or even many old-school games — in general.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore new features
Two and half years since the excellent sci-fi smorgasbord, 13 Sentinel: Aegis Rim, I’m admittedly having a bit of a Vanillaware craving.
Whether it be Odin Sphere, Muramasa: The Demon Blade (which could really use a Switch port, by the way) or Dragon’s Crown, Vanillaware’s games have always done a great job at whetting my gaming appetite.
With Vanillaware’s latest unnamed magnum opus not quite ready yet, however, the developer is throwing in an appetizer for the time being. First released for the Playstation 2 a decade and a half ago, GrimGrimoire OnceMore will likely feel new to a generation of gamers. Even veterans of the original GrimGrimoire should find this remaster fresh, though, thanks to some key changes.
There’s the obvious bump in visual quality to match the higher resolutions of the PS5, PS4 and Nintendo Switch. GrimGrimoire OnceMore also goes the extra mile by changing the game’s aspect ratio to accommodate today’s standard widescreen displays.
The result is a game that still looks great today. It’s a testament not just to the great job that Vanillaware has done in upscaling the visuals but also just how timeless the developers’ art style is.
The improved visuals also come with new cut-in illustrations for a new feature from the remaster called Great Magic. This new option gives you access to four great spells that can help you turn the tide of battle. Resurrection, for example, lets you heal wounded units in battle. Mana Burst does wide range AOE damage to give you some breathing space when faced with enemy swarms. Mana Synthesis, on the other hand, helps speed up and increase unit allocation in a pinch. On the other side of the spectrum is Sands of Time, which lets you rewind your way out of a tough situation.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore also now offers a skill tree. The skill tree allows players to gain new abilities by spending coins that you earn from doing stage missions.
Then you have new quality of life features such as the ability to speed up time via a fast-forward function so you’re not spending time waiting for stuff to happen. When battling, GrimGrimoire OnceMore also adds a mid-battle save function. If you’re a glutton for punishment, the game’s Hard mode has also been made even tougher this time around.
There’s even a new photo gallery for folks who like to peep at video game art.
The slew of new additions make GrimGrimoire OnceMore a remaster done right. Vanillaware could have just done the bare minimum and released an upscaled game and called it a day. But it took the extra effort to further improve the game and it certainly deserves kudos for that.
Does GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s story hold up?
One thing that hasn’t really changed is GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s story.
The good news is that the game’s narrative remains compelling today thanks to well-written characters and an intriguing plot.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore starts out with Lillet excitedly entering the magic academy while dreaming of becoming a Great Magician one day. It doesn’t take long for Lillet to realize that something isn’t quite right at the famed Tower of Silver Star as disaster unfolds shortly thereafter.
As bad as things get, however, Lillet quickly finds that she has one ace up her sleeve. This would be the ability to go back in time, albeit involuntarily. Soon, Lillet finds herself repeatedly going back to the past, each time with new insight to help deal with the harrowing events about to unfold.
The story is further strengthened by an excellent cast of quirky characters.
You have the smarmy devil instructor Advocat, who would be best described as “sus” by the kids of today. Then you have another teacher, Opalneria Rain, whose great talent is only matched by her great,almost stalker-like obsession with another instructor. That instructor, by the way, would be Dr. Chartreuse Grand, whose misadventures ended up getting himself cursed with the head of a lion. Forget about the kids not being alright. It would be the teachers who appear to have more than several screws loose in this story.
Admittedly, GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s story can be on the wordy side, which is great for folks who love narrative exposition but maybe too much for folks who “ain’t got time to read all of that” and prefer to skip to the action right away.
At the same time, GrimGrimoire OnceMore’s narrative certainly has that Vanillaware flair for storytelling, which you can see in 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim’s drama that bends time and space. It will certainly keep you guessing — and interested to find out what’s next.
Final thoughts on GrimGrimoire OnceMore
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a great example of a remake done right. Instead of doing the bare minimum with a simple upscale and calling it a day, the game throws in several new mechanics such as new Great Magic spells and a skill tree plus several quality of life additions. The RTS gameplay might be a bit too simple for hardcore fans of the genre. Its solid mechanics combines with an excellent story and beautiful hand-drawn visuals, however, make it a unique experience that’s certainly worth checking out.