A dazzling action-RPG
Never before have the words kawaii and chibi felt insufficient yet at the same time defining to describe a game that looks deceptively cute but at the very same time is permeated with over the top gameplay. Knowing that Lapis x Labyrinth was made by the very same developer of Disgaea, Phantom Brave and Odin Sphere, this should not come as a surprise. Once again, Nippon Ichi Software shows its best!
Lapis x Labyrinth is a side-scrolling 2D action-oriented RPG. Its concept and gameplay come in equal parts of simplicity and depth. As usual, you get the chance to create the characters you want to play with. Choose from one of 8 classes like hunter, witch, bishop or gunner. Personalise them, name them, stack them. Uhm, come again? Stack them?
Stack, raid and get paid
Stack them! Choose up to four characters to play with and stack them! The one on the bottom is the leader and your basic attacker. The others contribute to the battle by showing off their secundary attacks. Basic and secundary attacks each have their own purpose. Depending on the situation, it is advised to change leaders and have the others support you. Well, uhm, support… Actually, they sit right on top of you. Together you will hack and slash your adversaries, singe the endboss with a fire spell and cash lots and lots of loot. Because these adventurers are only in it to win it. This is not about world peace, this is about money!
Stacked stats: team work makes the dream work
By stacking your adventurers, their stats like HP and defense are tallied. The more, the merrier! In any combination to your liking. Be sure to equip your adventurers before they head out into the maze.
Speaking of which… You will only get access to the labyrinth if you have chosen to accept an assignment. Once you are in the fray, you have got just a few minutes to plunder treasure chests, to punish baddies and to reach the endboss. That is, without any nuisance to rain on your flashy parade: once the timer hits zero, a ghost shows up and tries to take you. Do not even slightly touch the spectre, lest you want to do the assignment all over again. Are you heroes out of HP? Even that should not pose that big a problem: you wil get a chance to restore them.
A flashy adventure
You’ve got quite some weaponry and attacks at your disposal. Depending on the button combo used, one of many possible and flashy attacks is performed. These attacks are at their best when ‘fever mode’ is activated: the screen darkens a bit and every hit -wether it’s against an adversary or a breakable object- bursts into colourful gems. Keep at it and cash in the dough!
Even without activating ‘fever mode’, every attack feels like using a bazooka to brush off a fly. Which just goes to show how over the top Lapis x Labyrinth is. And even with all those flashy lights going off, the action never gets confusing.
Trash or treasure?
The characters are drawn incredibly cute, the Japanese voices are charming without getting boring and the game offers plenty of challenge. Especially to gamers who are less familiar with the genre.
The game tends to drop you into the fray without spending a lot of time on tutorials. Seeing that most of them are offered at the early stages and are rather presented as hints instead of info on how the game can or should be played, it is easy to forget even a helpful warning. For example: the game often informs you on the possibility to take 4 adventurers with you. However, at the start of the game and for the purpose of the first tutorial, you are limited to create only 2 of them. Once the tutorial is over, it is not explained immediately why you should have more adventurers. Before you know it, you will be making things unnecessarily complicated at the start of your adventure. Unless you take the time to discover what the game has to offer.
Things nevertheless get too easy for you? Well, do try to uncover the labyrinth with just 2 adventurers. Or with less equipment on hand. You will be sweating bullets in no time!
The levels tend to feel quite repetitive. They are quite lovely drawn, though. But after a while it is hard to see the difference between two levels. Which kind of is the purpose of a labyrinth. Luckily, the scenery changes as you delve deeper into the maze.
‘Labyrinth’ is not some sort of reference to your typical dungeon crawler. It would not be correct to claim that this game is for lovers of manga and anime either; even though the drawing style and the use of Japanse words seem to implicate otherwise. Lapis x Labyrinth is all about about impressive screen filling attacks, sprinkled with deceptive cuteness and dazzling action.