Survival games are nothing new on Steam. It doesn't take too many clicks to stumble upon a game asking you to scrounge for resources in a harsh environment while fighting off the unknown. But every once in a while, a game comes along that's looking to do something way different than its peers and predecessors, risk be damned! Grimmwood, developed by Big Mustache Games and currently in open beta on Steam, is one of those games.
A realm inspired by 17th century Europe has been claimed by the forces of evil. Monsters roam the forests and hills, plotting to siege your village at midnight. You and a group of wayward civilians have to work together to prepare for the inevitable – a task that is easier said than done.
Creating your villager is random. You roll for everything except your name, gender, and background. Your starting inventory contains a random assortment of food and water, weapons, tools, and materials. Some things may seem peculiar or useless out of the gate, but they might just come in handy later on. Your character's perks also down to chance. These are traits, both good and bad, that effect the actions you take. Being Strong helps you with physical tasks, and allows you to carry more while traveling. Conversely, being Unstable means you are difficult to put at ease, and can be more susceptible to sanity-draining conditions. You'll always get both good and bad perks as you roll a new character.
You're ushered into the village after accepting your loadout. This is the hub world for you and your various online allies, where you will plan for the oncoming night raid. There is a lot you'll need to know if you're to succeed in Grimmwood, and the only way to learn is through the tutorial menu. A group of well-organized videos will show you around the controls and all of the things you need to keep in mind during your session. Admittedly, it's not the most elegant solution, and it can be a bit of an inconvenience when you consider that time is finite, and constantly ticking away in the background.
Almost everything you do is governed by your Stamina. Fighting to keep it replenished and usable is often a more strenuous fight than taking on a murderous monster. Food can refill it (as well as assuaging Hunger conditions) but certain types of food are better at it than others. Some raw foods give decent Stamina back, but offer very little in terms of your character's Hunger pangs. Cooked foods often provide the most Stamina gain, but preparing them costs resources (and Stamina). Some raw foods can make you sick when eating them, so foraging nuts and berries can be a gamble. You also run the risk of eating too much, which will stop you from gaining any Stamina from food for an extended period of time.
While in town, you can do several things to prepare for the night. The Tower allows you to spend some Stamina and scout the oncoming threat. Here, you'll see the enemies' Strength rating as a range of numbers, as well as your town's Defense rating. You can narrow the range of the enemies' numbers by having multiple people scout in the Tower, which can be done once each per day. If your Defense score is higher than the Attack score, you have a decent chance of surviving the night. If you don't, then you have work to do.
That work takes many forms, like upgrading the town's physical defenses. The walls, gate, and moat can all be upgraded, so long as you have the proper materials, increasing your Defense capabilities, and ultimately your score. While in your house, you can choose to to actively join the fight against the hordes as they advance, as opposed to hiding. Guarding will raise your Defense score, but will put you at greater risk of injury or death when the time comes. You can also venture out and take the fight to enemy Monster Lairs. Breaking these down lowers their Attack rating, but oftentimes you will need to fight your way to them. And fighting monsters can be a risky proposition in Grimmwood.
Monsters can seen on the exploration map, and can be approached via stealth or head on. Some monsters will attack you on sight, while others may cower in fear of your presence, letting you strike them first. Once combat is engaged, you'll select a weapon from your inventory to attack with, and take turns until someone dies. Different types of weapons affect different enemies in unique ways, so bringing a variety of death-dealers may be necessary. If things get too hairy, you can attempt to escape. If you're fast enough, you'll get away – but you may need to shed some of your loot to do so.
You can also tromp around the forest simply to explore, hunt, and gather resources. Every hex on the map can contain points of interest ranging from abandoned camp sites teeming with lost items, to hunting grounds for wild animals, and anything in between. As mentioned before, every action costs Stamina, including walking from hex to hex. If you aren't properly prepared, you can get yourself stranded out there. If you aren't near food and water when you become stranded, a slow, grim death may be in your future.
You can call other villagers to help you in the chat, and it would be mostly beneficial for them to do so if they are able to. Logging out doesn't save you from this trapped state, either. The village is a persistent world, and will continue to exist without you until you die. That means active players can happen upon your idle body out in the wild, even when you're not there. Luckily, they can Sherpa you back to safety with just the click of a button, if they can afford it.
This persistent online environment also means that the much-heralded night attack can happen when you're not around to witness it. This is something that might happen often, considering the clock that counts down is on real time. It takes a full, actual 24 hours before the raid begins, so you'll have to plan your day around that event if you want to make it in person. Otherwise, you'll return to a journal entry that will summarize the attack on your village, letting you know who died how and where, and what state your fortifications are in post-battle. Then, the process of preparation begins anew.
There's no survival game on Steam quite like Grimmwood. If your into stat and strategy heavy experiences, this could be for you. The game is currently available to play in open beta on Steam, so give it a try. If you're looking for some more specific information, or have some to share, come visit the Official Grimmwood Wiki!
Jarrett shares his love of video games and geek culture through feature articles on Gamepedia. He prides himself on his deep attraction to Japanese beat-em ups and his god-like Bushido Blade talents.