American McGee's Grimm: A Boy Learns What Fear Is

aka: Grimm 1
Moby ID: 35437


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: Как мальчик страху учился - Russian spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

164 People (102 developers, 62 thanks) · View all



Average score: 57% (based on 10 ratings)


Average score: 2.9 out of 5 (based on 13 ratings with 1 reviews)

Let me tell you a story...

The Good
After hearing that American McGee would start a new series of games, I didn't know what to expect, considering his previous works: Alice was a pretty average action game for me, Scrapland was a pretty fun Grand Theft Auto clone and I haven't bothered with Bad Day LA after reading numerous negative reviews. But the trailers got me excited for this game and I was eager to try it out.

The game presents Grimm, a typical anti-hero in every way: he's mean, cynical and ill-mannered. At the start of the episode, the game presents the fairytale, which Grimm is about to destroy, each major scene being a level in the game. Grimm will have to change the outcome of these events, presenting an evil retelling of the story at the end of the episode.

The overall setting is great, reminded me of the Tim Burton movies. The graphics are interesting and it's fun to watch how stuff turn into their evil counterparts, such as ordinary tools into weapons, water into blood or lava, innocent animals into ferocious beasts. My favorite part was the school scene, the playground turning into a place filled with torture devices made me chuckle a few times, due to the over the top violence depicted. It really does capture the childish nightmare feeling of the different scenes.

The Bad
While the whole "run-around-and-make-things-evil" routine is fun for a while, it gets really repetitive very fast with the lack of other gameplay elements to spice up the game. Sure, it's fun to watch how everything turns dark and evil, but there's not much else to do. And the episode is really short too, I was expecting 2-3 hours of gameplay a la Sam and Max, but it can be finished easily under an hour.

Also for some reason the writing and dialogues bothered me a bit, trying to be too quirky and witty, overall feeling forced.

A weird thing would be the system requirements. While I have quite a capable rig, it seemed strange that such a small game would be such a resource hog, lagging during certain animations and towards the end of the level, when the evil things start to clutter the environment. There are a few glitches in the game, such as Grimm passing through objects, or hitting invisible barriers.

The Bottom Line
For a debut, the series doesn't promise much, but I hope the developers won't waste this setting for a series of bland games. I couldn't imagine how they could still keep interest in a game after a few episodes, which I could summarize as a 3D coloring book.

Windows · by Spenot (8592) · 2008


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Additional contributors: Klaster_1.

Game added August 2, 2008. Last modified February 22, 2023.