Griefhelm – Review
Follow Genre: Fighting, Roguelike
Developer: Johnny Dale Lonack
Publisher: Thorrnet Publishing
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Griefhelm – Review

Site Score
Good: Amazing atmosphere, Interesting fights, Great content
Bad: Some unfair fights are truly frustrating, Input lag
User Score
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)

It happens more than you would think, great concepts that are slightly altered to create a whole new game. This is why we see certain trends like survival, battle royale and Souls-like games. This time it is the Nidhogg franchise that has been used as inspiration for Griefhelm. This title uses the same core elements but just slightly adjusted to fit the new game and it plays surprisingly well.


The game starts with an unnamed knight, he finds himself somewhere in a deep dark cave. Making his way out into the open, he only has one goal: to escape this place. Soon enough you will understand that his place is kind of purgatory, for fallen soldiers who want to redeem themselves worthy of going to the afterlife. Each mission will have some special saying, yet this isn’t connected with the story but rather about fighting in general. This absence isn’t that big of a deal, as the gameplay leans more to an open interpretation of the story, rather than having to repeat sections all over again.


The visual aspect of Griefhelm is just mind-blowing. From the moment you start up the game until you quit it, you will be blown away by how beautiful each asset looks. The game comes with moving loading screens, animated cutscenes and fluid gameplay elements. This all combined in a very dark, yet calming setting that emphasizes on the purgatory that you are currently in. Besides the use of mainly black and grey, some characters will have some brighter colors like green or yellow.


In cohesion with the graphics, the sounds help greatly in creating that perfect dark atmosphere. The music plays gently in the menus and turns soft while in battle. As you’re in the afterlife, the game even makes combat feel quite calming. The sound effects are also great, weapons make their distinctive metal clashing sounds when struck and knights will grunt out in pain when they get hit.


Griefhelm is a roguelike fighting game that closely resembles gameplay elements from the Nidhogg series. You have the choice to start with a good tutorial, dive into the campaign mode, have some fun in an encounter or try out your skills online. In tutorial mode, you will be taught how to move your character and how the combat works. It is advised to play this game with a controller and at first, this feels great, yet in more hectic situations it feels like there is some kind of input lag. This is especially noticeable with how fast the A.I. can combine moves or even how insanely fast it can respond to actions. Luckily, this is only linked with the difficulty but it will make the gameplay pretty unfair when choosing a higher one, especially if you still have your starting gear.

Talking about gear, you will be able to unlock better equipment when progressing in the campaign mode. In this mode, you will play as a lost knight who is trying to get out of an unknown place. To make progress in the misty lands, you must defeat enemies in one of three available options in the campaign: skirmish, tug of war and horde. In skirmish, the first player to win three times is victorious. Tug of war is the classic Nidhogg inspired mode where you must reach the end of the opponent’s map and defeat the gatekeeper. Lastly, in horde, you will be overrun by three waves of enemies with only one life.

The variation in the missions is great enough to keep you entertained through the difficult trials. If you fail, you will have to start over. You begin with three lives and these can be replenished, but be prepared to try the mode over and over again. The frustration of getting outdone by more difficult enemies must be replaced with the courage to start over again. You have a free selection of where to go in the game, but you cannot go back once you set foot there. If you find upgrades in your travels then you will lose them if you run out of lives, unless you find the perseverance perk as this will allow you to permanently keep your stuff. This brings us to the next part; the game has unlockable perks that work as single-use items to give you a small edge on the field.

The biggest difference between Nidhogg and Griefhelm is that while the gameplay is about the same with the three levels of attacking, characters will only have their main weapon and gear. This means that you start out with a quick character that has a pretty weak weapon and no real armor. You might survive a few light attacks, but don’t count on it, as you will be one-tapped with ease. During your travels, you can find better gear, but to acquire it you will have to defeat some extremely difficult trials. Another problem is, is that depending on the difficulty, the A.I. will have a breeze defeating you. They will have better armor that can take a few hits and their weapon will easily down you by just pointing it in your general direction. One thing that is frustrating here is the input lag. Sometimes switching stances or parrying feels unnaturally slow and when the enemy does not have this problem, it will make some fights feel greatly unfair.

Besides the input lag, that is just frustrating when using lower-tier gear, the rest of the game does control pretty well. The gameplay is smooth and the characters move around nicely thanks to their ragdoll physics. To best enjoy the game, you can either team up in the campaign with up to three friends, or train to defeat the boss in the encounter mode. in the encounter mode, you can play the three modes that are available in the campaign, with custom set rules, to blow off some steam or to hone your skills. There is also an online mode to fight other players (and friends can join in) but sadly during our tests, there were no matches to be found.


Griefhelm is a truly amazing experience, especially if you like the gameplay in Nidhogg. With the astonishing graphics soothing your eyes and the calm music playing in the background, it feels like this game is perfect for a rainy night. The gameplay is smooth, however, the input lag can sometimes become frustrating, especially when fighting stronger opponents. If you look past this flaw and adapt to it, then you will move through the campaign at a steady pace. You can unlock new armors and weapons but this will be slightly stressful as you need to complete the game to keep them, unless you find the handy perseverance perk.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.8/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Griefhelm – Review, 9.8 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

Never give up on a dream. It might be a long nightmare, but one day it will change into a beautiful reality - MC_JP 2014

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