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It accomplishes what it sets out to do: Be a true-to-life Gameboy type game.

Let's get this out of the way first.

This isn't the kind of RPG that requires in-depth tactics to beat. It's pretty simplistic, but charmingly so. If that's not a turn-off for you, you will likely have a great time with it.

TLDR: If you're nostalgic for the good old days, you're in luck. It legit feels like a game that might have come out for the gameboy, with all the strengths and weaknesses that implies.

Narrative design rating: Average

The game really tries to stick to the Retro Aesthetic, all the way down to the plot and dialogue, going so far as to stick to the "You're not allowed use the words 'demons', 'hell', 'angels', or anything like that" rule that Nintendo had way back in the day.

Dialogue is cheesy and silly, and the plot is very simple. But even so, with how charming some of the characters can get (looking at you, Byle!) and how well it nails the retro feel, it totally feels appropriate.

While it doesn't do anything really new or interesting, it doesn't make any real gaffes either, and shows enough of a remarkable commitment to the theme that it deserves a thumbs up.

Aesthetic direction: Excellent

This game lives and breathes GameBoy stylings, from the excellent sprites, to the environments with deliberate graphical overlay issues, to the simple beeps and boops and animations. The music all feels perfectly appropriate as well.

I love it. The whole thing feels painstakingly crafted to be as period-accurate as possible, and should be lauded for it.

Gameplay: Mixed-to-great

After a rough start, the game starts to come into its own, and winds up being a very strange hybrid between true retro recreation, and a handful of modern conveniences.

Let's talk the good stuff first.

I love that each party member has a unique way of learning new skills (The cleric learns a new spell at each new church he visits, for example), and that each party member feels pretty distinct in terms of aesthetics and in their skillset.

I love that the on-field battles are often very clever in terms of their execution (The mines crawling with undead, and the marsh dungeon really stand out as having FANTASTIC design here), making crossing dungeons become an exercise in quick pattern recognition to not get mobbed.

I love that if you need to grind, there are "battlegrounds" that allow you to immediately jump into battles and save time, and that Auto-Battle remains viable for most minor battles.

I enjoy that each dungeon makes you stop and consider your party setup, as the game leans heavily on enemies that resist either physical attacks or magic attacks, and you need to take the party members that best fit the damage types you will need to rely most on.

Unfortunately, despite these great strengths, there are a handful of hiccups along the road.

I enjoy that the game uses an ATB combat system...But since you don't see whose bars are filled, it's hard to plan out your moves sometimes and you're just left sitting there going "come on...When is the mage going to be able to cast a fireball again?".

Combat tends to not be too hard across the game, as once you figure out what an enemy is weak against, it's just a matter of spamming it, and if you're taking too much damage or fights aren't over in 30 seconds, it's time to grind for money/equipment or some levels.

Since all the abilities are simple and straightforward, there's little in the way of advanced tactics you can use, aside from buffing an ally with more physical power or more magical power to make them more effective. As someone obsessed with tactical combat puzzles in RPGs, this left me just a little bit cold, but really, that's just my personal taste.

The only exception to this rule is Finn, who learns a whole suite of blind, sleep and paralysis moves...But they cost a lot to use, and often miss (Or at least it's hard to notice that they've taken effect), making it feel more useful to rely on healing and damage spam instead.

Combat only ever gets truly hard at the very end of the game, when your equipment and levels reach their cap and grinding will no longer save you. At that point, things end up slowing down a bunch. For example, to reach the final dungeon from the nearest town, you need to cross a (mercifully easy) dungeon. Every time you want to go heal. Meaning that you either need to stock up on tons of items (which, indeed, ends up being the only thing money is good for once your party is fully decked out in diamond), or you'll be seeing a lot of that easy dungeon as you run back and forth between the final dungeon and town. A "camp" nearby to heal and change your party would have been appreciated.

EDIT NOTE: It turns out that if you clear a dungeon of all enemy encounters, you can "Bypass" it on the world map and skip the long walk. This makes the trek back and forth from the final dungeon to heal considerably less irritating.

Likewise, the final boss is a long, hard-hitting slog that feels nigh impossible if you don't have specific party members along for the ride.

In the end, these hiccups take what was otherwise a Fantastic experience and pulls it down to just "Pretty Good".

Note: There is some form of "secret endgame" type deal to this game, but I haven't yet cracked the puzzle for it.


I can't say that the game really disappointed me, as it commits to the feel of a true oldschool experience, warts and all, and utterly NAILS it. So...Most of my complaints can be handwaved as "This is how things were back then". But with the sometimes genius design of the on-field battles and unique skill unlocks for each character, I feel like there was the potential for King of Grayscale to be more than just a recreation of times gone by. Something truly amazing.

I went back and forth on my final score, unsure of whether to give it a 3.5/5 or a 4/5, and ultimately settled on the latter.

Despite the faults and flaws, it accomplishes what it sets out to do, and any scraped knees along the way are just transitory parts of this short-but-sweet ride.

Final score: 4/5
Final Word: Pretty good. If you want a true-to-life gameboy type RPG, you'll definitely get what you came for.


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Thanks for the review, Aegix! Did you not notice the bypass option for the Slate Woods when hopping out of Grayscale Castle to go heal? Bypass options should open up when you clear out a dungeon that blocks a path on the world map. I probably should have made that a bit clearer on those path dungeons~
You're welcome for the review! :)

Thanks for the review, Aegix! Did you not notice the bypass option for the Slate Woods when hopping out of Grayscale Castle to go heal? Bypass options should open up when you clear out a dungeon that blocks a path on the world map. I probably should have made that a bit clearer on those path dungeons~

I saw "Bypass" show up for towns, but never for dungeons. I just double checked and the option doesn't show up for Slate Woods either.

Do I need to kill every single enemy in the dungeon in one attempt to unlock "bypass" for a dungeon or did I hit a bug?

Edit: YUP, I just needed to kill the last two bees. -_- I honestly, didn't even realize that enemies didn't respawn after leaving the dungeon, so I didn't think "clearing" a dungeon had any special effect. This really could benefit from a bit more clarity. If I'd have known I've have made an effort to clear out the dungeons!
Ah, yes! I'll have to make a note to add some clarification on that benefit when I do a bug splatting update.
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