Grimoire: Manastorm is a different kind of pvp arena shooter developed by Omniconnection that employs a medieval setting and story. Driven by the slow but inevitable death of the land, Mages of six different schools (Fire, Lighting, Earth, Ice, Nature, and Nether)have divided into two houses (Magnus and Validus) in a frantic civil war over the Grimoire, an artifact of great and dangerously uncontrollable power. The story is unique and provides a strong backing of the setting – if you are looking for a reason to wantonly slaughter other mages… IF. This is our Grimoire Manastorm review.
The six different mage classes provide for different spells, visuals, effects, and play style. Each comes with a list of initial spells that can be expanded upon for a total of 12 school specific spells as well as eight general travel and utility spells to choose from. Permanently unlocking classes beyond the two offered for f2p is the only paid content for the game and even they can be unlocked by spending Arcane points accrued within the game. The two classes available to f2pers revolve every few weeks so even if you don’t purchase the other classes you will have an opportunity to play them. While some of the unlockable spells are merely enhanced variations of the original, some of them prove to be different enough that it could change your play style (lightning that heals teammates, anyone?). Each of the classes has spells that require a certain amount of strategy as they are placed rather than shot and are only effective if your enemy is in the area, so get your bullwhips and start herding. Don’t be surprised if the spells look familiar, Omniconnection has taken some inspiration from MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2 for some of their strategically effective abilities.
To unlock higher level spells the player will need to acquire Arcane points that are awarded at the end of each multiplayer round, how many you are awarded depends on various actions throughout the match such as time played, winning a match, or achieving MVP.
Grimoire offers two multiplayer game modes: Conquest – wherein the two different families/houses struggle to conquer/liberate strategic points and maintain control of them, and Deathmatch – which is, of course, the quintessential backbone of any good pvp arena game, a seething mass of death and chaos with a lovely blend of magic mixed in.
If you feel you need practice, or just can’t seem to find enough mages to murder there is also a Survival mode for you to test yourself and defend a cathedral from wave after wave of undead. This is more difficult than it sounds, while the denizens of the undead are not really anything to look at, they still hurt and you may find yourself hard pressed to not only stay alive but keep them from breaking down the door of the cathedral. Luckily, they only seem interested in going in the front door, so the use of area-of-effect spells can be particularly effective. And for even more fun, the devs have released another Survival map called Shadows under the ‘hard’ difficulty in which you find yourself in a realm that exists between worlds and you must defend a branch of Yygdrassil. This map ups the challenge by not only increasing the strength of your opponents but offers no place to hide or dodge behind and the swarms of undead seem to continuously surge from the shadowy depths.
Graphically, character and spell animation, while somewhat basic, are fun and with some of the spells can certainly be entertaining to watch. The levels themselves, however, are fairly detailed, well rendered, and are attractive backdrops to offset the magic, mayhem, and murder. One level depicts a medieval city with plenty of buildings and obstacles to jump around and dodge behind, while the other (my personal favorite) is set in ancient, Mayan-like ruins.
Omniconnection is a small, independent studio, so while Grimoire is not a AAA title and therefore doesn’t have as much of the polish and nuance of said games, I found it somewhat engaging with the variety of schools of magic and spell load outs available to choose from. The variance of spells definitely added another level of thought and tactics into the mix with the regular flurry of death that one expects in a game like this, and I quickly found that learning the best use of your spells as well as split-second decision and delivery will make the difference between success and death here. But don’t feel too bad about dying, the Grimoire itself has intervened between you and true death in order to promote more chaos and spell weaving debauchery. Because, yes; like any quality, insanely powerful artifact, it has a mind of its own, and it hungers for chaos.
Note: Our copy was reviewed on PC with a code provided by PR.
- Provides great variety of gameplay styles
- Doesn’t require high-end systems to run smoothly
- Effective and fun use of strategic spells from well-loved MOBAs
- Very little paid content
- Graphically wanting
- Class avatars have fixed appearance
- Movement feels clunky/inhibited
- Mirage: Arcane Warfare