PAX AUS Indies 2016: Grim Balance

Feature article

Tucked off to the side and away from most of the other indies games at PAX AUS this year was a little game by the name of Grim Balance.

Playing as Ollie, the Grim Reaper’s tiny assistant, you platform your way through a game that I would describe as a cute take on a spooky aesthetic.

“Ollie has been left in charge of Death’s mansion while Grim has gone on a well-deserved holiday. Unfortunately, clumsy Ollie accidentally shatters a jar containing a vast and important collection of souls. Now Ollie has to traverse the lands of Death’s Domain and collect all the souls he let loose, or else he will suffer the wrath of Death. Or maybe worse…get fired!!” [source].

Grim Balance is a side-scrolling platformer with combat and puzzle solving additions. Leaping your way through an adorably spooky world you collect souls and reap foes who get in your way. Thanks to the help of his trusty scythe with boomerang like qualities, Ollie can attack from a distance and even use it to teleport himself across platforming segments. The souls that Ollie collects can also be used to animate objects around him to help out in some light puzzle solving.

The game is cute and it totally understands exactly what it wants to be. What I appreciate the most about Grim Balance though is the environments that you find  yourself occupying. Moving through recognisable but stylised locations throughout a house/conservatory and creating logical platforming within that space was impressive. It also created a great sense of scale with our tiny reaper friend being dwarfed by the objects around him, which he then used cleverly to his advantage.

Whilst I enjoyed my time with the game, there were a couple of areas which I felt Grim Balance could still improve upon. Some of the platforming (especially the teleportation) and some of the combat didn’t feel as tight and as controllable as they should. With no indicator or trajectory line my scythe throws often ended up coming down to trial and error rather than skill and swiping at an enemy didn’t feel particularly impactful or responsive. Having said that, the game is still in development and most certainly has the opportunity to tighten up its gameplay and release a very appealing game.

For those interested in discovering more about our little reaper friend then may I suggest perusing the developer’s website?