Grimgrimoire is a real-time strategy. It's about collecting resources, building bases and producing units to fight – much like a Command and Conquer type game, except the battlefields are two dimensional cross sections through a building and the whole thing is set in a magic school.
You play as Lillet Blan, a new student at a magical school who ends up being rather central to a plot to stop an evil mage getting loose and presumably destroying the world. Throughout the game you take lessons from the strange teachers at the school and earn new units to command on the battlefield. The whole plot is told with dialogue between two dimensional drawings that only move subtly – it sounds a little lazy, but is actually quite striking as the characters are very well realised and backed up by a good story…
On the battlefield, things start off nice and simple as you only have access to a couple of types of unit, but things quickly ramp up. There are twelve 'Grimoires' (spell books to most people), each of which can deploy its own kind of 'rune', and each rune can either produce multiple types of unit for the battlefield, or provide upgrades for those already out there. The facilities available depend on the level of the rune and both upgrading the rune and producing units requires mana that can only be collected at a few strategic points on each level. That bit's fairly simple really – the difficulty comes in having the right units in the right place at the right time, as every unit has its own weaknesses and strengths in comparison to every other unit, so even the most powerful unit can be destroyed by the right low level units. If you feel a little bewildered by that last paragraph then it's probably best you stay away – this is not a light, casual game.
For those willing to plod through the ponderous opening tutorial battles, there is plenty of depth to the game, and the battles are genuinely frantic and fun. It can be very hard to locate a particular unit at times and you have to just scroll through the units until you find what you're looking for but aside from that the game controls very well. I hope that more console strategy games take some cues from Grimgrimoire for their design and control scheme. The main campaign will last at least sixteen hours, probably over twenty, the only shame is that there's no online play.
There's not a lot about in strategy games on the consoles right now, unless you're into the Final Fantasy Tactics type of games, which means that if you're into strategy and without a PC to play the latest and greatest then Grimgrimoire is a worthy substitute.