Legend of Grimrock brings the real-time dungeon crawl formula of Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder to the modern age. Perhaps the best single improvement is auto-mapping. I know that filling out that sheet of graph paper was half the fun in the originals but I really didn’t miss it here. You are still exploring the layout and looking at your map to guess where secrets might be located. You can even jot down notes if you want to be thorough. But because I was not constantly having to look away from the screen, I was able to get a feel for the spaces much more quickly and look more carefully for secret buttons and loot. This is crucial because, in reality, Legend of Grimrock is a puzzle solving game at its core. The goal is to figure out the correct combination of levers, buttons, and pressure plates to trigger in order to open doors and make your way deeper into the dungeon.
The combat works the same as in the old games. You have four characters with a front and back row. Right-click a weapon to perform an attack and use the WASD keys to dodge and move around your enemies. The magic system is much improved too. Your mage will have a sub menu of nine tiles and the various spells are triggered by quickly clicking runes on the tiles. Weaker spells use a single rune, more complex ones have more complex patterns. Remember, all this is happening in real-time, so the combat feels much more like an action game than a tactical RPG.
As far a story goes, there is only the barest amount of narrative to follow. Most of the details are in various notes you find lying about and the occasional vision while you rest. Nothing fancy, but the final boss fight brings it all together into a satisfying finish. What the game lacks is a diversity of environments. There are only three wall tile types and when everything is laid out in a concise grid, lots of visual detail would have brought it up a notch. Thankfully, the game is just about the right length for the minimal amount of content in the game.