GrimGrimoire - hands-on

With all that out of the way, let's talk about how you'll guide young Lillet Blan through her teachings. RTS vets will know the basics, but in case you're here for the graphics, we'll break it down for you. First you have a home base (Runes). These translucent symbols are your everything. From them you spawn new units that will attack enemies, patrol the area or gather resources to further power the Rune (in this case, the workers are mining Mana from crystals scattered across each level). The more Mana you have, the more units you can summon and the higher you can power up the Rune to summon, yes, even stronger units.

Lillet begins with one Rune, the Fairy Ring, that draws its power from the earth. This green-colored base comes in four varieties, the second of which is the Wicca Ring, and it has its own set of units and abilities. Along the way you'll gain access to different colored Runes like Sorcery, Alchemy and Necromancy, each with four variants of their own. All in all, there's a glut of options available from early in the game.

Necromancy is the next Rune you're exposed to, and with it come ghosts and phantom knights. Ghosts are the Mana grabbers while the knights head out to bop some baddies. Why would you want to choose knights and ghosts over fairies and elves? Because knights are astral, meaning they can't be hurt by physical enemies like demons or imps. Creating an army of units that can both attack and defend against astral and physical enemies is a must - even by the fifth mission we were up against an onslaught of fire-breathing creatures that could inflict damage to both types.

Given the deluge of controls at your disposal, handling all these elements isn't too tough thanks to a solid control scheme and detailed tutorial. Granted, this would undoubtedly benefit from a mouse and keyboard, but the current setup wisely uses the available buttons. It's a little rough at first, but within a few levels we were issuing commands to multiple units, building sentry guns and amassing a rather large army without any trouble at all.

The real kicker came after just five missions into the story - the imprisoned super-evil wizard called the Archmage was released, one of the teachers was killed and everything looked to be going straight to hell. Then, in a flash, Lillet is whisked back to day one with all her memories intact. How her advance knowledge will affect the gameplay isn't clear yet, as we're still pounding away.

GrimGrimoire is slated for store shelves on June 19. Role-playing and strategy fans alike should keep their eyes and ears peeled for more on this incredibly rich, lovely and captivating title.

Brett Elston

A fomer Executive Editor at GamesRadar, Brett also contributed content to many other Future gaming publications including Nintendo Power, PC Gamer and Official Xbox Magazine. Brett has worked at Capcom in several senior roles, is an experienced podcaster, and now works as a Senior Manager of Content Communications at PlayStation SIE.