Game: GrimGrimoire OnceMore
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4 & PS5)
Developers | Publishers: VANILLAWARE Ltd, Nippon Ichi Software, Inc | NIS America
Age Rating: US T | EU 12+
Price: US $49.99 | UK £44.99 | EU € 49,99
Release Date: (EU) April 7th, 2023 & (US) April 4th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to NIS America.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a remaster of the original GrimGrimoire released in 2007 for the PlayStation 2.
This classic RPG strategy has been updated with improved graphics and gameplay, and more. GrimGrimoire OnceMore features fantastic worldbuilding and intricate storytelling. Along with real-time tactical gameplay with new, improved mechanics.
GrimGrimoire Oncemore’s story is one of many strengths, though you might first be inclined to dismiss it as a Harry Potter knockoff. Moreover, you play as a new student in a famous magic school that protects a particular well know stone and is presided over by white-bearded Professor Gammel Dore.
Doesn’t that sound familiar? Though there are similarities between GrimGrimorere OnceMore and the Harry Potter story, GrimGrimorere OnceMore’s story is somewhat different in its own right. So, you play as Lillet Blan, the new student at the Magic Academy for gifted youths, the Silver Star Tower. She meets many colourful characters with whom she will spend the school year.
Additionally, the game plays out over five days. After the fifth day, Lillet wakes up to almost every person in the academy dead. Then, just before something dire happens to Lillet, she is propelled back in time, Groundhog Day style, and forced to repeatedly re-live the past five days.
During this time, she must learn new magic spells from the twelve books (Grimoires) to beat the golems, dragons and ghosts she’ll face in the school halls. Finally, Lillet must uncover the truth behind the academy and figure out how to stop the dangerous dark presence in the school.
Real-Time Strategy and Story Sequences
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a real-time strategy game, and like in most strategy games, you collect resources, churn out some units, and attack the bad guys.
That’s where Grimoires come in. Grimoires are spell books; learning their contents lets you place runes on the battlefield. The Grimoires came in four schools of magic: necromancy, sorcery, glamour, and alchemy. Each with its unique units.
Story sequences are interspersed between battle levels through large animated character portraits on still backgrounds, accompanied by full voiceovers. In these story segments, character portraits are well drawn and appear to breathe, speak, and gesture, giving them an illusion of seeming alive. Scene backgrounds compliment them nicely as well.
As with most NIS America localizations, the original Japanese and the English dub are available to select. In addition, the English voice actors do a decent job of adding character to their voices.
The battles play out in the halls of the academy. You are tasked, usually, with destroying the enemies’ runes. You must balance sending familiars such as Faries and Dragons to attack enemy runes while guarding your own. Familiars come in two forms, Substance and Astral. And similar to the Grimoire, the familiars have their weaknesses and strengths. For instance, Astral’s are weak to magical attacks but physical attacks have no effect on them. Using the correct familiars is critical to winning the battles.
Most actions cost mana. You can send elves or ghosts or other familiars (depending on what Grimoire you are using) to gather mana at crystals and have them bring it back to your rune for consumption.
After obtaining mana, you can summon different types of units at your runes. You can also level up runes so that they can produce better, more robust units. Units can come from workers, attackers, guards and more. The map is blacked out until you send your troops to investigate areas, so you never know what might be nearby. GrimGrimoire OnceMore is not only a strategic thinking game but one that keeps you on your toes.
Collect Mana, Use Grimoires
Grand Magic spells are a new ability introduced to the game. Lillet can cast Mana Burst, which deals heavy damage, and resurrection, and fully restores HP and MP. There is also Mana Synthesis, which creates a specific amount of Mana to summon the maximum amount of familiars.
Finally, there is Sands of Time, which rewinds a short amount of time. All the Grand magic spells have their dynamic cut-in animation. The grand magic is an excellent addition to the battles though you can only activate them a limited number of times, so you need to use the spells wisely.
Battles can be long, I’ve had battles that have lasted for fifty minutes or more, and you can suffer heavily for one wrong move, but if you play strategically and think things out, you can come out on top. In addition, the game features an excellent tutorial and easy-to-understand controls.
Furthermore, aside from attaining new Grimoires and runes and learning how to unlock their higher-level abilities, everything stays the same, and you don’t carry anything over from one battle to the next. Instead, each battle has its starting units, runes, and conditions, and it’s completely self-contained as far as mana collection, summoning, and levelling-up runes go.
Save during Battles
Unlike the original GrimGrimoire, where you could not save during battles, now you can save, allowing you to return to the game later. Being able to save during long battles is a fantastic bonus in the game.
Also, the skill tree has been expanded in GrimGrimoire OnceMore and using the coins you earn in battles; you can pick from many skills to enhance your Runes and familiars. Finally, a neat feature added to the game is that you can refund any Skills you have purchased, allowing you to mix and match the skills to the battle you are facing.
A fast-forward function for during battles is a new feature, convenient to use during battles your familiars are moving around the halls. In addition, there are three difficulty levels, Easy, Normal and Hard. You can also change difficulty between battles if you find you are struggling.
Visuals and Controls
Visually the game is stunning with its new HD graphics. Right down to the sprites in battle, which are also well-animated, though most aren’t as impressive as the character portraits. The only visuals that are a bit bland are the hall battle backgrounds, which vary slightly throughout the game.
The menu is set up like a bookcase, and it is here you can take on the extra challenge of the Trial Stage. By playing the Trial stages, you earn more coins which enable you to increase the skills of your familiars.
There is also a gallery where you can view cutscene images with some info on each image, giving details about the animator. There are over 90 images from the Vanillaware production staff to see!
Controlling the game on the Nintendo Switch couldn’t be easier; you can use the D-pad to call up individual groups of familiars to move them around the halls. There can be a little slowdown in the frame rate during battles when the screen is busy. However, it is not off-putting in the slightest and doesn’t interfere with the gameplay.
GrimGrimoire OnceMore is a mix of a visual novel broken up by RTS battles. I went into GrimGrimoire OnceMore without knowing whether I would like the game or not! You see, the visual novel’s gameplay style isn’t my thing. However, I fell in love with the game, but it is not a title for everyone. Though if you’re in the mood for a clever strategy game that is fun and features battles and beautiful artwork and scenes, and a good story, then GrimGrimoire OnceMore definitely is recommended.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up