Hands On with Grimm

American McGee's Grimm has been somewhat of a mystery to me since it was announced. The concept sounded good, I mean anything based on Grimm's fairy tales always catches my interest. I had been anxious to see exactly what it was going to be like and today I got my chance. It was certainly different than what I expected it might be and way more as well.

As you may have heard, Grimm is going to be an episodic game, with new episodes appearing every week. Episodes will be free for the first 24 hours and from there you can either purchase them individually from GameTap.com/grimm or get them free via a gold GameTap subscription. Each episode will take on a different fairy tale (some well know and some not so well known) with the first being "The Boy Learns What Fear Is," and others to follow including "Red Riding Hood" and "The Girl Without Hands."

In the game, you take on the character of Grimm, an evil little troll who is sick of the happy endings that most fairy tales seem to have. So he takes it upon himself (and you) to wreak as much havoc as possible on the rainbow colored fairy tale worlds. Each episode starts out with a "puppet show," with Grimm telling you the good version of the tale. Once the show is over, you are set loose in the land of the story to see exactly how much of it you can turn dark.

As you run about the darkness spreads around you, turning everything into an outlandish Tim Burton-esque kooky, spooky world. What makes this extra fun is that everything in the world has a light and dark form. The shiny hatchet in the corner turns into a bloody headsman's axe, the bucket of water turns into a bucket of blood, the pretty princess turns into an ashen zombie and all it takes is a little running and jumping on Grimm's part. As things turn uglier, your dark meter goes up, allowing you to reach a wider area and turn larger and larger object into their darker selves. But beware, do-gooder NPC's are on hand to try and clean up the mess you've made! Give a good butt stomp near them to send them into a daze and gain enough darkness to eventually turn them over to the evil side. Once you are all finished you are presented with another puppet show, this time showing you the darker version of the tale.

Grimm has a great, simple graphical style but don't let that make you think it's a game for kids. This is a very twisted world and the game will have an M rating. The humor is quite black and may have some players scratching their heads but those of you with a sick sense of humor will absolutely love it. The keyboard and mouse controls are simple and easy to use but if you tend towards the controller, you can use any USB controller at your disposal (including the 360's). Each episode is short and can be completed straight through in about 30 minutes, but there are plenty of reasons to go back and replay the levels including secret items, power-ups, beating your time and the simple pleasure of seeing everything turn scary. Since it is being powered by the Unreal Engine and the graphic style is very simple, it allows for a lot to be crammed in to a very small space and they take full advantage of it.

The first episode of Grimm, "The Boy Learns What Fear Is," launches absolutely free for the PC on July 31 with the remaining seven episodes of Volume One appearing each week thereafter. Two more volumes of eight episodes each will also be available at a later date. No price for the individual episodes has been announced yet. If you like your games with a sickly humorous edge, be sure to give Grimm a try. It's clever, fun, looks great and most importantly, twisted as all hell.