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As history has already softened the original tales commonly attributed to the Brothers Grimm who collected and published them, A Boy Learns What Fear Is is the first episode in a series of 24 games that aims to retell the fairy tales with a much darker atmosphere. In the original story, a man learned what fear is when his wife unsuspectingly poured cold water down his pants. This game puts a little boy to the trial who goes on a quest to learn about fear when his father cannot provide an answer. He has grown up in a perfectly safe environment where no danger can be encountered.

The story is told by the narrator, Grimm, whom the player controls throughout the series. This curmudgeonly character has the power to transform the environment, simply by walking past it. Similar to the concept of the Katamari series not everything can be changed at once. By transforming objects and the environment, such as water into lava, or children into matches, Grimm's power is built up in eleven steps, ranging from smelly to vile. Each step makes Grimm jump faster and causes the darkness to spread farther. His influence is immediately visible as everything grows dark, objects and people transform, and all bright colours disappear. Most areas contain cleaners that can turn the environment back; they can be transformed at higher levels to stop them.

The story is split up into six scenes with different sub levels and it can be told from a light or dark theatre as a setting. In between, short cut-scenes are shown, presented as a puppet theatre with Grimm as an omniscient narrator. Through theft, a haunted castle, marriage and more, Grimm will teach the little boy what fear is. The game is highly accessible as Grimm can hardly be harmed through the environment. The only viable hazard is water and lava that causes him to immediately respawn. Next to his ability to transform the environment, he can also perform a buttstomp to achieve a higher radius and dazzle characters. When standing still, he pees. An arrow constantly points at the next goal.

The game is controlled through the keyboard or the mouse, with only a few buttons or keys for all actions. The player is rated based on the completion time of the level (also with an online leaderboard) and the amount of darkness spread. Levels have secret coins Grimm can collect. The first episode is made available for free permanently, while the others can only be played freely for the first 24 hours and then need to be paid for.


American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is Windows Scene and theater selection
American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is Windows Stand still and Grimm will start to pee.
American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is Windows A school with a playground
American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is Windows Secret coin discovered.

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Alternate Titles

  • "Grimm 1" -- Common abbreviation
  • "American McGee's Grimm: Как мальчик страху учился" -- Russian spelling

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User Reviews

Let me tell you a story... Spenot (8431) 3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars3.29 Stars

Critic Reviews

Game Chronicles Jul 31, 2008 9.5 out of 10 95 Nov 08, 2008 90 out of 100 90
Game Vortex Jul 23, 2008 80 out of 100 80
IGN Aug 06, 2008 6 out of 10 60
GameDaily Aug 07, 2008 5 out of 10 50
GameStar (Germany) Aug 27, 2008 48 out of 100 48
CanardPC Sep 02, 2008 4 out of 10 40
Destructoid Jul 31, 2008 3.5 out of 10 35
PC Games (Germany) Aug 27, 2008 5 out of 6 20


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Sciere (381349) added American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is (Windows) on Jul 31, 2008