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One of the finest puzzle games on the site

Grimps: Squeaking of the Dead is a truly astounding game. From its graphical presentation to its animations to the way the developer Momeka presents a storyline without words, everything is quality street, baby. If its prequel, Grimps: A Christmas Puzzle, was an interesting diversion (I would rate it around 4 stars), this game is a strong and definite improvement on every level. This action-puzzle game is a dodge-game Franksteined with your traditional tile-based puzzle, and it's actually really great.

To be quite honest, I was expecting a visually pretty game with decent animations and not-so-great puzzles. But what I got instead were some of the best puzzle designs I've seen on RMN so far, and this coming from a dude who really enjoys his puzzles. I mean, really enjoys them. The puzzle genre has been on my heart ever since I was a kid, and when I see a good puzzle that makes sense logically, it warms my strange, puzzle-obsessed heart. And the puzzles here are economical and sleek.

It's a great feeling when a puzzle game includes everything it needs in its puzzle, and nothing it doesn't. So many games pile on the puzzle elements without really understanding what makes puzzles compelling. This could apply to genre, whether it's pasting cookie-cutter enemies into your RPGs, or pasting scripts just for the heck of it. I feel like this game strikes that logical balance of refusing to provide needless complexity, trimming it down to its necessary components, but also providing enough elements to make these puzzles true head-scratchers.

In addition to the thrill of the singular puzzle, I believe the progression and the addition of mechanics seamlessly one on top of each other truly makes this difficult puzzle experience that much more palatable and enjoyable. The puzzles are very well designed, something I wasn't expecting from a game that seemed to focus on its visual polish. Usually it's one or the other - great VISUAL GAM, or great GAMEPLAY GAM - but when you get both, it's awesomely rare.

The Grimps have ransacked our town! Those green cute dastardly monsters.

I finished all of the campaign plus the bonus levels, and the last levels of the campaign where you're getting shot by bombs are extremely hard. They require quick agility skills with the keyboard, and the faint of heart may find it really difficult, but I think the thing that makes it worth it is that this hardcore puzzle-action game always respects the player. It's always nice to see a puzzle game cut down on the needless difficulty but still keep it challenging.

It's fantastic (and evil!) the way developer Momeka combines a dodge game with your traditional pushing mechanics, along with pressure-plate and gate mechanics, and probably the most evil of all - the bomb cannon mechanic. I mean, it's hard enough when you have to solve a puzzle, but try that with 3 bombadiers trying to pummel you into the ground! Suffering abounds. But the good kind, the kind that makes you come back for more, the kind that is an addictive pleasure. These levels mean you're always in danger with little way to fight back except maybe bombs, but even then they're pretty immobile and can only move along fixed planes, and sometimes even killing an enemy is not your best course of action.

This game causes you to have to think on your feet, which increases the tension, not unlike the original Resident Evil games, where dodging and fleeing is your only hope. This is like that. It's brutal. But not only is it brutal, it's stunning. The particle effects, for example the "death clouds" trailing behind the zombies, are stunning. The ice trails you leave behind when you slide are stunning. Even the walk animation for this dinky little penguin is stunning.

Slide on, you dinky slinky jinky quinky flinky winky penguin.

And to top it all off, the incredible end sequence is a scene that is so well-thought-out and maniacally cute while remaining dangerous. It's just a real fun and cute game with stakes, and good difficulty, and great balancing. The graphical polish is stellar, it's something that's a barrier that 99.9999% of indie games struggle with, but this game pulls it off with aplomb. There's a neat little password system which makes it feel somehow even more retro than its graphics clearly indicate. It was a cool throwback to classic games of the 90's. I mean, the dev could have just as easily used the traditional save/load system and it would have worked the same, but this decision to include a password system reinforced and evoked the feel of a retro game. Every last pixel felt like it was part of a retro game, and that's sometimes hard to do in RPG Maker.

The thing is, usually when people reference a great-looking game, they think of its static visuals, but the real shine of this game is in every little animation, but even its static assets are well-done too, it's just an all-round gorgeous-looking game.

There are flaws, though, however small they are. Sometimes bombs will shoot at you when opening gates, so that when you finish opening, there will be 2 bombs targetting and coming at you at once, which feels like you're getting cornered in a mafia movie by the mob. Sometimes bombs will kill enemies before you even get there, but then they're blocking the way and you can't get through, making the puzzle impossible. So it feels like the puzzle becomes unsolvable due to factors that weren't the player's fault. The game's brutal difficulty means that if people get stuck in this linear game, they have nothing else to do, no other way to progress, so that limits its scope as a game. The bonus levels felt of less quality than the rest of the game, which was why they probably were not part of it, and I honestly felt like they could have just been omitted.

But those flaws don't take away that much from a game that essentially deals in a level of puzzle difficulty that not everyone is willing to engage in. I think it's really great to expect a lot from your audience, because they can usually do a lot more than you think, if the game is well-designed. And the way that this game conveys all of its key concepts seems effortless.

This game will pulverize you and make you like this tenderized piece of meat, ya punk.

All aspects considered, Grimps: Squeaking of the Dead is what I consider to be the completed version of its prequel Grimps: A Christmas Puzzle, because it takes all of those already great components, and fleshes it out to a whole. It's a well-designed game that more or less gripped me from beginning to end, and that's a lot to say, considering I'm a bit of a puzzle snob and I generally have a pretty high standard for what passes as well-designed. This exceeded all my expectations. It's largely satisfying from start to finish, but short and sweet (and sometimes makes you want to pull every hair out).


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Great review! It was really in depth and fun to read!

Sometimes bombs will kill enemies before you even get there, but then they're blocking the way and you can't get through, making the puzzle impossible.

I tried to weed out all of those places, but I probably missed some. Do you remember where it happen? Would want to try and fix that if I update the game in the future.
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