‘Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk’ finally gets an international release. Are you the proud owner of a Nintendo Switch and/or a PlayStation4? Then read on and discover why this is important to you!
From Nippon Ichi Software – known for the Disgaea-series – comes a dungeon crawler RPG, not unlike Etrian Odyssey. As a matter of fact, this game could have been their love child. Ultimately though, it’s clear that the grotesque comic relief, the gorgeous art style and the ever clever gameplay clearly comes from the developers of Disgaea.
In Labyrinth of Refrain the Dusk Witch Dronya (a.k.a. Baba Yaga) is summoned to the town of Refrain, which rests upon an unexplored underground maze. It’s not known who built the elaborate labyrinth, nor for which purpose; although there are rumours about a slumbering demon king whose awakening could end the world. What is known is that the labyrinth is filled with clouds of miasma, a substance that kills any human it touches. Dronya isn’t in the least fazed by this. As a matter of fact, the busty and bewitching beauty seems to have come to the quaint little town with here very own agenda. And, of course, with her apprentice Luca and a cursed tome, said to have been written by the only man to explore the labyrinth and survive…
As the player, your soul has been sealed within the ‘Tractatus de Monstrum’, the fabled cursed book. Dronya has no qualms sending you off to the maze because A.) you can withstand the deadly miasma and B.) you’re relying on puppet soldiers to explore and fight.
Create unique puppets slash fighters by assigning them a job or class (called Facet in this game) and by tweaking a whole lot of interesting gameplay-influencing parameters such as preferred stat growth.
Once created, puppets are ready to be arranged in groups or so-called Covens. A single Coven may contain multiple soldiers. It’s your job to direct and steer multiple Covens during battles. These fights are, by the way, comparable to those of other RPGs, with a few added extras. But no big surprises there.
The fun is, of course, in exploring the vast labyrinth. A handy map will assist you to do just so. More maze levels become available while you progress during story mode by finding story-related items, defeating bosses or reaching certain places. The labyrinth is a 3D dungeon which is explored from a first-person perspective. Enemies are represented by symbols and – if necessary and possible – can often be avoided. Just keep in mind: for every move you do, the enemy gets one too.
Between missions or when you need a breather, Dronya’s caravan is yours. Create new puppets, synthesize equipment at the alchemy pot or spend your hard-earned mana to open up extra gaming options like renaming puppets, easier/harder difficulty settings, risky ways to earn experience…
The game never gets dull as story and gameplay interchange at a pleasant pace. The fascinating story unfolds slowly and intricately – leaving you with you with many more questions – but truly shines through its dialogues and comic relief.
The learning curve is fair albeit just a tad slow. You’ll be taken by the hand for quite some time. Which is, all by all, not an unnecessary luxury as there is a lot of ground to cover to truly grasp all gaming aspects. Luckily, tutorials can be reviewed.
Though some gaming options as tweaking various character parameters won’t be necessary for novices, veterans are sure to get their kicks out of it as they set the game to their liking.
The story, the gameplay and the many gaming options will keep you pinned for quite some time. Especially since content is sporadically being unlocked as you progress, easing you into the game. The many side quests will have you returning to the maze. If not, you’ll do so for the many characters you can’t help loving.
‘Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk’ is a dungeon crawler RPG to marvel at and cherish.