Deep Labyrinth review

  • Crazy-ass storyline and characters
  • Easy touch screen gameplay
  • Catchy, quality tunes
  • Mazes, mazes and more mazes
  • Some clunky control issues
  • What's with the box art?

Let's get one thing out of the way: Deep Labyrinth is not for everyone. Its long, winding dungeons and emphasis on exploring said dungeons will instantly turn away all but the hardest of the hardcore RPG fans. But, if you are one of those who swoon at the thought of investigating right-angled mazes and tapping the touch screen to swing a sword, then by all means, dive in.

Labyrinth plays much like the King's Field series of old, or if you need a more modern reference to sculpt a mental image, picture The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion without the bustling towns, busy townfolk and lavishly large environments. There's no role-playing here, just hitting maze after maze, gathering new weapons, armor and items along the way.

The D-pad moves your character around, while the stylus is used to swing your sword, draw magic spells or lock onto targets. A few puzzles put the DS's microphone to use, making you literally yell a door down or shout out loud for attention.

In these basic ways, Labyrinth is a lot of fun. The mazes are no more advanced than the 3D screen saver from Windows 95, but do allow for quick navigation and ample opportunities to save your progress. It'd be nice if there were a way to strafe (double tapping left or right lets you hop quickly in one direction, but it's pretty dodgy), and targeting enemies with your woven spells isn't always accurate, but neither of these issues is enough to truly dampen the experience.

You're getting more than just one set of monster-laden dungeons, though. Labyrinth contains two separate games that share the same general setup, but two completely different storylines and overall appearance. The "Shawn and Ace" game is made for newcomers and, in a shocking twist, actually has a pretty interesting story running through it.

While on a family car ride, you and your family are sucked into the world of memories, where anthropomorphic elephants, mice and lizards either guard our precious history or are tasked with deleting our old, unwanted memories. Turns out, both of your parents hate each other, regret having you and just want to start their lives over. So, the monsters are just carrying out their jobs, deleting memories, but as a child, you can't accept that and press on, hoping to find your lost parents and stop them.

The other storyline, "Wandering Soul," is more or less a straight-up dungeon crawl and made for experts of the genre. In fact, this is a port of a cell phone game from years ago. If this were the only game on the DS card, we'd be much harsher, but as a bonus, "Soul" isn't that bad. You're looking at the same weapons, spells and problems of the first game, so its inclusion may or may not matter at all.

For a little extra street cred, the scenario for Labyrinth was cooked up by Masato Katou, who gave us a little game called Chrono Trigger, and the game's excellent music is from Chrono Cross composer Yasonori Mitsuda.

This is one of those games you either love or hate. We're perfectly happy with the story, graphics and simple gameplay Labyrinth offers, especially since there's nothing else like it on the DS, but casuals will probably downright despise the game. Its appearance on such a mainstream handheld might lure a few new fans to the repetitive world of dungeon crawling, though, and that's worth something in itself. Anything you want to say is awful about this game is probably the exact same reason another person loves it - so proceed at your own risk.

More Info

Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Role Playing
Published by: Atlus
Developed by: Interactive Brains
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Language, Suggestive Themes, Violence


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