Grim Dawn: Ashes of Malmouth PC Review

The world of Cairn is developing nicely with this expansion, calling it a piece of DLC just isn’t fair. A pair of new masteries await players, with a whole new story chapter await. There’s plenty of new ways to defeat your foes, from hordes of the undead to a ranged death dealer, enhanced with magical artefacts.

Gameplay

The first thing which I have to say sucked me into this was the two new masteries on offer. They fill completely different roles, the Inquisitor and the Necromancer.  The Necromancer is quite obvious, firstly being able to bring skeleton minions to the battlefield. Other abilities allow them to drain the life from foes, curse them, the powers of undeath brought against the Aetherials.

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The Inquisitor is the opposite on some level. Far more specialised in range combat, it’s one of the masteries that unlocks the ability to dual wield weapons. Other abilities present are based around artefacts you hold, that give them elemental damage. One gives you lightning, that locks on an enemy, that can damage those in its path. Another is like a flame thrower, scorching enemies, also damaging them over time.

As in the main game, these masteries can be combined, the Soldier and Inquisitor gave me a Tactician, a powerful combatant, where range is never an issue. Combined melee strength, shield use and ranged weapons gives you some ridiculous damage numbers. Spellbinder is the combination of Necromancer and Arcanist, giving you the Spirit to hold powerful boosts for long periods, spells to help your minions in combat.

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Adding in a lot of new content after the main story, there is more than enough to keep your characters going, moving on. Starting after the defeat of what was the final boss, you have so much more to do. More importantly you also have some quite new and distinct areas to go. Advancing from Burrwitch, you’re taken to a deep forest and then a swamp. These are only the first two of at least three, five, six new areas. New foes were ready for me in these areas too, poison spitting planets, humans driving to madness, cannibalism, worse two quick examples.

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Audio and Visuals

Here the game hasn’t changed much and that is for the better. The new character abilities are well animated, so are the new items I’ve encountered so far. There’s plenty of character in this world, the troubles that ail it and the character’s that occupy it. The new effects, are matched with sounds as well. Seeing the explosions is paired with clear blasts in the audio. Lightning has a distinct crack, I almost expect the stench of ozone from it. That I’ve seen, heard so far, nothing has been removed and only that which had to be added, was.

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As I was saying earlier, they’ve added a fair bit in the visual front. When I first wondered into the Gloomwald, I was surprised to see a forest that was struggling. Struggling with corruption, with the presence of twisted creatures and the against the world it was in. There was another surprise too, some areas were bright, were the sun could shine in clearly. Others were dark, bleak, grim, where there was no light but that I could make. Moving further, there was a new level of detail in the swamp, marsh, that lie beyond that caught me short. Moss, different levels of water, all of that seemed obvious to me.

Multiplayer

Multiplayer remains one of the better features of this game. Like others in the genre, the ability to work together with your friends, is a highlight. Especially so when you have a number of abilities, skills, which boost each other up. Run through Steam, this only makes working together that much easier.

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Overall

I don’t want to call this a piece of DLC. It feels insulting, to the team and all the work put in. New character masteries, new items, new story content, all of that feels like an old school expansion pack. There’s plenty to keep you busy and plenty to explore in the world, which has only been added to. More importantly, you have new ways to conquer your foes so the game never feels old. My only real remaining complaint is that with all of the money, iron here, earned from items, I have so little to do with it. Perhaps the ability to clean up, upgrade, Homestead, Devil’s Crossing, could be something to scratch that itch.

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Written by

Leon Peters-Malone

Old hat gamer who’s start goes back to the Sega MegaDrive and still remembers seeing the Genesis on store shelves. Mainly a strategy gamer, I dabble in most other genres. There’s a long list of stand out titles I want to see come back, Ground Control, Homeworld, MechCommander, a proper send off to the Tiberium world of Westwood’s creation. Also very partial to most things set in space, especially at the fleet side of things. Current gaming gear include the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, PS3 and PC.

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