Every so often a game comes along that makes you realise that games do not have to be tied down to a genre and fit into rigid guidelines. Such games are refreshing and if they are done well they can give you some of the greatest gaming experiences. Grom can justifiably fit this description. It attempts to blend a point 'n' click adventure game with elements of Commandos and a dash of RPG. This may seem like a curious mix but for the most part, it comes off really well. Let's take a look at Grom and see how this curious mix of gameplay styles works out.
The game is set in 1942, right in the middle of World War 2. You play Colonel Grom, a Polish man who helped, in vain to defend his country before having to escape as the inevitable defeat came. In his attempts to escape he was caught by the Red Army and sent to their labour camp at Kazakhstan. Whilst he was imprisoned his family were killed in a bombing raid and with nothing else to lose he successfully escaped and fled to India in an attempt to join the British and seek revenge on the Nazis. Revenge was not to be an option for Grom though. On his journey he became caught in a great blizzard and if it wasn't for being rescued by a Tibetan holy man he would surely have died. In Tibet and far away from the events of the war, Grom learned an inner peace and decided to stay in the country and became famous for protecting the travelling caravans. Grom eventually came across a Czech named Petr, a smuggler, who offered Grom half of his revenue if he accompanied him as a protector. However things were not to remain peaceful for too long and very soon Grom would again be faced with a great evil.
Being set in 1942 it was inevitable that those pesky Nazis would again be involved. Their main reason for being in Tibet is to find the lost treasures of King Arjuna's lost city. These are no ordinary treasures, in fact it's no ordinary city and it is said that whoever finds the lost city first will gain power that will annihilate their enemies. Of course it goes without saying that Nazis should be the last people who are allowed to find the lost city.
As we said earlier Grom is a mix of genres and the gameplay can be said to have two phases. Outside of combat the game feels like a point 'n' click adventure game with the exception of having multiple characters to control. Conversations with NPCs are not rigid and you have the option of how to respond. Unlike in adventure games where you select a line of dialogue to say, you are given the chance to pick the style of the reply. You could pick an insulting response for instance or you could choose to pick a pleasing response. The great thing with this is that it actually has an effect on the gameplay and therefore it makes you think about your response rather than simply clicking on any of the choices and it not making a difference. Outside of combat Grom is an excellent experience.
The second part of the game is the combat and it is obvious that the influence for this part of the game comes from Commandos. Well to be exact I should say a very simplified version of Commandos. There aren't really enough options and it lacks the tactical finesse to make the combat a satisfying experience. To help ease these problems, the game can be paused at any time and orders can be issued. You can also save at any time too which can ease the frustration. Of course you can opt for the stealth option and attempt to avoid your enemies but more often than not you'll need to rid an area of enemies before you can move on. There are a variety of weapons that Grom can use. The more he uses these weapons the more experience he will gain. Higher experience with a weapon means that it is used to better effect and it's always best for a character to use a weapon that he's more skilled with.
Just like the Final Fantasy games, Grom has it's fair share of mini-games. You'll come across these throughout the game and for the most part they are about winning money. Of course the main mini-game is the Bargaining mini-game. There are numerous situations in the game where you will have a price to pay and there is always the option to bargain to try and lower the price. Of course there is always the chance you could actually raise the price by losing the game, but that is the risk you take. All the mini-games are straightforward and are valuable if you need extra money. What I would say about the mini-games is that occasionally, it is better to use the keys than the mouse in order to play them. Early on there is a mini-game where you make money by avoiding the thrown knives. Pressing the C key makes this a very easy way to earn money but using the mouse controls makes it very difficult.
Graphically, Grom looks good. The game is a mix of 2D pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D characters. You can zoom in or out by holding down the NUM + and - keys. Zooming out helps you to locate your enemies whilst you're in combat mode which is useful but to be perfectly honest there isn't a real use for zooming in. The 2D nature of the backgrounds allows for far richer details than using 3D. In fact the difference in detail between the backgrounds and the 3D characters is quite surprising.
Grom is completely deaf gamer friendly. All dialogue and information is given in subtitles. In fact there isn't speech for all of the dialogue in the game, only parts are actual speech so even a hearing gamer will have to do their fair share of reading. Dialogue usually requires a mouse click to continue so you're free to read at your own pace. A clear font has been used for the text and it is placed on a darker overlay so as to make it stand out. Even the comments that are made by bystander characters are shown in text. What more could a deaf gamer ask for?
Grom as a whole is a great game but I feel the combat side of the game could have been done better. Of course it's always difficult to suggest how it could have been done better but personally I would have chosen a kind of turn based combat so as to not make the game feel rushed. Random encounters with enemies do occur when travelling from one location to another and this can also aggravate you, especially if your health items are low. But when you balance the combat with the excellent adventure part of the game and the great story to carry you through, you begin to forgive the combat and be prepared to put up with the randomness and repetitiveness of it. Grom isn't a classic adventure game but it's a very good hybrid that all being well will lead to many more. PC gaming needs this kind of innovation.
Game Rating: 8.0/10