The underlying premise behind Tales of Grimm is a simple one. Players collect and battle dark-fantasy versions of their favorite fairytale characters to save a magical world from corruptive dark magic. Unfortunately, while Tales of Grimm has some great moments, it’s little more than a mostly unremarkable gacha RPG.
As the intro cinematic helpfully explains, Tapplus’ Tales of Grimm takes place in the land of Ozzy. The realm was peaceful and happy until someone shattered a magic mirror, unleashing dark magic across the land. The power twisted Ozzy’s fairy tale inhabitants into demons and plunged the world into chaos. Players take the role of a Dreamer, a normal human summoned to the fairytale realm. Tales of Grimm tasks them with collecting a roster of fairy tale characters to collect the mirror fragments to restore peace to the land.
Cracks in the Glass
Unfortunately, I could never entirely escape the impression that Tales of Grimm failed to commit to its own premise. Many popular western fairy tales have dark implications if you think about them, but Tales of Grimm kind of flip-flops with this. The opening cinematic leans hard into the dark fairy tale angle, winding players up for something like The Nightmare Before Christmas. However, Tales of Grimm drops that aesthetic almost as soon as it arrives, with most characters adhering to their standard pop-culture depictions.
Tales of Grimm does have a few interesting character interpretations, like a pyromaniac Red Riding Hood. The Hunchback-inspired character also carries around a coffin, in a clever reference to the original novel’s rather dark ending. The game also has some really cool corrupted versions of characters. However, these are the exceptions to the rule and only make the tone less coherent. Maybe it’s subjective, but there’s real friction between the parts of the game’s story and its almost chibi-like character sprites.
As with other idle-adjacent gacha games, Tales of Grimm doesn’t offer much engaging gameplay. Players can deploy up to five heroes in various formations. Each hero corresponds to one of four classes and five elements. The standard classes are Warrior, Guardian, Mage, and Support, which correspond to the traditional RPG roles of DPS, tank, crowd control, and healer. Elements meanwhile work on modified rock-paper-scissors-logic. Water beats Fire, Fire beats Wind, and Wind beats Water, while Light and Dark counter each other. Heroes generally engage the opponent that’s the furthest forward in the opposite formation, though some abilities specifically target the second or third row. The game determines attack order based on the character’s stats.
Setting your heroes’ formation is where player involvement begins and ends, something I’m not a fan of. On one hand, I recognize that many gacha games work like this. On the other hand, I believe that a good game maximizes player engagement. It’s also not as if all gacha games must use some version of this system. For example, Genshin Impact is a great action RPG on top of being a gacha game. Or, if that’s too high budget, take something like Warhammer 40K: Lost Crusade. While far from perfect, its gameplay is still preferable to the virtually hands-off combat in Tales of Grimm.
A Chance at Redemption
This is not to say Tales of Grimm completely lacks positive qualities. From the central hub, the player can access the Wonder Space and Tale Theater for dungeon-style side quests. The various Wonder Space adventures are typical of many mobile game dungeons, consisting of branching paths lined with treasures and combat instances. Meanwhile, the Tale Theater features story-driven adventures retelling the backstory of various in-game Heroes. I also found the Theatre to be where the game puts most of its best storytelling moments. It could be predictable at times but was a significant improvement over the mostly forgettable main plot.
Tales of Grimm isn’t necessarily a bad game, but it’s hard for me to get enthusiastic about it. It’s not quite an idle game, but not interactive enough to be consistently fun. The writing has an excellent underlying premise, and there are precious few memorable characters or moments. The world and art style seem intriguing at first, but the game fails to commit to one aesthetic fully. Ultimately, I can’t help but feel like Tapplus made the least exciting decision at almost every turn.
Is it Hardcore?
While I didn’t hate Tales of Grimm, its mostly forgettable story, lack of an engaging gameplay and inability to commit to a tone makes the gacha RPG an unmemorable experience.