Lillet Blan is a young magician admitted to a prestigious magic school, the Tower of Silver Star. Though she attends normal classes for the first four days and meets the various professors and students, on the fifth day Lillet awakens to learn that everyone in the tower is dead. Before she is killed as well, she is suddenly propelled back in time to her first night at school. Lillet then proceeds to relive the five days before the tragedy over and over again, retaining the knowledge of magic she learns in those five days and desperately trying to solve the mystery to prevent the same events (or worse) from taking place on the fifth day. Over the course of the plot, Lillet discovers dark secrets about her classmates, teachers, and even the academy itself, all of which will lead her to the truth.
Lillet appears onscreen as a cursor, used to guide troops around the field. Units known as familiars are created by placing summoning circles called runes on the map. Mana can be spent to upgrade Runes each fight. New runes and familiars are learned as Lillet collects and studies grimoires. Resource gatherers take the form of elves and other small creatures who harvest mana from crystals. Unexplored areas of the tower are shrouded in a fog of war, and there are a number of different ways to select individual or multiple units. The game consists of a story mode and a series of bonus maps that are unlocked upon completing the story mode for the first time.
The game's plot is presented through cutscenes with large, animated character portraits. While Lillet is the main character, only the familiars are under the player's direct control.
There are four different magic schools with a rock-paper-scissors arrangement of strengths and weaknesses among the schools.
Glamour: Summons fae-type creatures such as elves, fairies, and unicorns. Glamour is strong against Necromancy and weak against Alchemy.
Necromancy: Summons undead units, which are Astral and cannot be affected by most physical attacks. However, they are weak against magic. Necromancy is strong against Sorcery and weak versus Glamour.
Sorcery: These units are demonic in nature and have high hit points. Sorcery is strong against Alchemy and weak to Necromancy.
Alchemy: Alchemy units tend to be specialized and have fierce ranged attacks. They are strong against Glamour and weak to Sorcery.
Lillet Blan (Lillet Blaw in Japan) Voiced by Ookubo Aiko (JP), Wendee Lee (U.S.)
The main character. Lillet was invited to the Silver Star tower, and for the first four days met the people around her and made friends with Margarita. She came from a poor family and wishes to become a great sorceress in order to provide for her younger brothers. Lillet is very studious, quickly mastering more powerful runes during the course of the game's events. She is named after Lillet Blanc, a brand of French Aperitif Wine .
Margarita Surprise (Margarita Frozen in Japan)
A girl who quickly befriended Lillet when she arrived, Margarita has been at the academy for six months. She carries her talking frog familiar Surely on her head. It was Gammel Dore who brought her to the academy, rescuing her from a town that persecuted magicians. Despite appearing very carefree, she is actually a servant of Calvaros. She was sent to the Silver Star Tower to retrieve Calvaros' soul. If she refused, she would have been burned at the stake. Margarita is named for margarita, a type of cocktail.
Bartido Ballentyne (Batido Ballantine in Japan) Voiced by Yamauchi Yuuya (JP), Michael Soirch (U.S.)
A senior that majors in Alchemy. He possesses a very rustic, blunt personality, but is incredibly observant of the events around him and detects that Lillet is keeping a secret when she uses incredibly powerful sorcery she acquired during one of the time loops. During the first time loop, Bartido awakens Lillet in order for her to escape, though she learns that he died after leaving her. During the third time loop, it is learned that he is an enemy spy from another nation. He soon gives his soul to Advocat to save Lillet, however when times go backwards, the contract does not go with it and he lives. He is named for Ballantine's whisky.
Hiram Menthe (Hiram Green in Japan)
A senior at the Magic Academy who studies Necromancy under Opalneria and maintains a close relationship with her. He is an honor student with a kind personality, and is close friends with Bartido. He reveals later into the game he is of royalty. Hiram's name is a portmanteau of crème de menthe, a type of French liqueur, and Hiram Walker, a brand of the same type.
Amoretta Virgine (Amaretto Vergine in Japan)
An ephemeral student at the academy who possesses a Grimalkin familiar. She has trouble dealing with Advocat and Lillet rescued her from him on their first meeting. Her body is a homunculus created by Chartreuse. Her cat soon destroys her flask to sacrifice her, to save Lillet from Grimlet twice (the third and fourth loop), however Lillet destroys Calvaros and Grimlet on the final loop, keeping Amoretta alive. Named after Amaretto, an almond flavored liqueur.
Gammel Dore (Gammel Drask in Japan): A legendary magician and the headmaster of the Magic Academy. In the past, he defeated the wicked Archmage Calvaros and sealed the devil that had made a pact with him. He founded the Magic Academy on the Silver Star Tower which was once the Archmage's castle and sends invitations to promising youths in order to better educate the next generation of magicians. His full Japanese name, Gammel Drask, is a reference to Gammel Dansk, a Danish brand of alcohol. His American name, Gammel Dore, is a reference to Dumbledore from British author J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series.
Opalneria Rain (Opalnera Rain in Japan): A teacher of Necromancy and Lujei's apprentice. Though she appears cold-hearted, she in fact possesses a passionate attitude and unrequited feelings for Chartreuse. She is named for Opal Nera, a brand of black sambuca.
Advocat (Advocaat in Japan): A devil that teaches Sorcery and the uncle of Amoretta. Though he usually acts like a gentleman, his nature as a devil occasionally shines through. His real name is Mephistopheles. His purpose at the academy is a mystery, and he will not reveal if he has a contract with Gammel Dore. He does not actively collect souls while on the campus, but Lillet distrusts him. Advocat clearly knows more about the events in the Silver Star Tower than he cares to reveal. Named for Advocaat, a Dutch liquor.
Chartreuse Grande: A professor of Alchemy cursed with the head and other features of a lion, though Opalneria laments that he was once a handsome young man. He remains unconcerned about the curse and rejects attempts to undo it despite being told that the power of love would restore his original body. He wishes only to continue his search for the truth. He gets his name from Chartreuse, a French brand of liqueur.
Lujei Piche: A vengeful ghost that haunts the Silver Star Tower. One of the three great magicians who created the legendary Philosopher's Stone, Lujei was betrayed and assassinated by her lover and student under orders from the kingdom. Upon her death, she became a wandering ghost and now carries a staff with the skull of her former lover who she later killed. Gaff says her ghost is good for keeping naughty children in bed. Lujei also appears in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters, another Nippon Ichi title.
Calvaros (Calbados in Japan): The former Archmage. With the help of Lujei and Gammel Dore, he created the Philosopher's Stone at the request of the kingdom, but later made a contract with an ancient devil in order to use the Stone's power for himself. Though he was killed by Lujei and Gammel, he is still sealed within the tower and plots to restore himself to life. At the end of the fifth day, he is about to kill Lillet before she is sent back in time. His soul is soon eaten by Grimlet. His name comes from an apple brandy made in Calvados.
Grimlet (Gimlet in Japan): The devil that Calvaros made his contract with. He seeks to gain a host so he can conquer the world. Currently sealed within Gammel Dore's brooch, he breaks free and controls Gammel's body. He is destroyed by Amoretta twice, but on the final night of which the game's second-to-final stage takes place, Lillet tricks Grimlet into breaking a contract with her, which banishes him back to hell for 1000 years. His name in the Japanese version is a reference to the alcoholic drink with the same name.
Gaff: An elf who accompanies Lillet in the beginning of the game.
GrimGrimoire was well received by the gaming press, currently receiving an average ratio of 78% at GameRankings and 79/100 on Metacritic. GameSpot gave it an 8.4, praising it for its storyline, characters, and aesthetics. IGN, which also ranked it an 8.4, lauded the cut scenes, battle system, and 2D gameplay. RPGamer, which gave the game a score of 3.5/5, also praised the game's interface and its voice acting.
Several critics including GameSpot and RPGamer criticized the small soundtrack and the lack of map variety due to all of the game's battles taking place on one map. 1up, which gave it a C+, criticized the game for being "too watered-down" compared to the layers of complexity found in other titles from Nippon Ichi Software America. On X-Play, it was given 4/5 stars. They also joked about its similarities to Harry Potter.