Title: Lapis X Labyrinth
Genre: Role-Playing, Action RPG
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software
Platform(s): PS4, Switch (reviewed)
Set in a small city that has long been forgotten, Lapis X Labyrinth is a 2D side scrolling dungeon delver. You control a party of four adventures that has accepted the invitation to explore the dungeons under the city that have been long abandoned. Treasures are waiting to be found and will help bring the city back to its former days of glory. Let’s dive right in to find out what lies ahead!
The Tip and The Top
As stated above, Lapis X Labyrinth is a dungeon crawler where you are sent out to find as much treasure as you can. What is unique about this game when compared to other dungeon crawlers is that your party that you create has all the characters stacked on top of one another. The bottom character is the “leader” and you control their actions. However, you have the ability to send out any of the party members to do attacks that will help you on your quest, or you can build up your party’s special attack to do more damage. But be careful, leaving one behind could cause them to take damage and die. There is strength in numbers and in Lapis X Labyrinth, the farther you go into the dungeon, the more likely you’ll need your entire team.
You can create up to eight different classes (but are only able to take up to 4 with you into the dungeon). Each character has their own unique ability and unique equipment that they can wear. The different classes are as follows: hunter, necromancer, shielder, maid, gunner, witch, destroyer, and bishop. When you create a new character, you have the option of giving them a name and doing some modification (albeit minor) to the characters.
After you complete a very short tutorial, you’ll be able to create your party. Once your party is established, you need to go and get a quest from the quest board. The quest board is more of a level selection - each level will have several different sub-levels and then a final boss in that level. The level will show what the suggested level your characters should be, but that is just to be used as a guide. You could go back to previous levels and grind until you reach the desired level, but that isn’t really necessary. With the proper loot and equipment, you should be able to complete levels that are much higher than your current rank.
And there is a lot of loot in this game. Each dive into the dungeon you’ll come across treasure chests which will contain weapons, armor, or artifacts. You accumulate gold and gems as well which are used to purchase different items in the city. As you continue your quest for treasure and continue to defeat enemies found in the dungeons, you will build up to a “fever”, which makes you invincible. When you are in fever mode, the music changes, the game becomes more colorful, and gems explode everywhere with each monster defeated. During our interview with Erin Kim from NIS America, she stated that the developers wanted you to feel like you won the jackpot when you are in fever mode, and that’s exactly how it feels. It’s so satisfying watching all the gems explode and seeing your treasure combo go up (the amount of treasure collected without getting hit). And with all the crazy action that is going on in the game, not once was there ever a performance issue.
After you complete a level, you will be given a rank. You get a number of keys depending on the rank you get. You use the keys to open up treasure chests which also contain artifacts, weapons, and armor. The more powerful items require more keys, so the higher your rank, the better equipment you can get in the chests.
The progression of the game is handled by unlocking different stores as you advance through the game. The game really opens up after you unlock the blacksmith which allows you to create different enhancements that you can add to the loot that you find in the dungeons. Once the blacksmith is unlocked, you can take some of those ultra rare items found in the dungeon and make them into some really powerful weapons and armor that allow you to take on dungeons that are much higher levels than your current level.
The controls are solid and easy to pick up on as well. The game is simple yet there is some strategy to it, as for instance, understanding what monsters are predominantly in the dungeon you are facing and then choosing the correct equipment to deal with said monsters. You will also find yourself sticking with a party that works best for your style of play. Do try and mix up your party; characters that might seem to be joke characters could also be the best characters on the team (who would have thought the maid was such an awesome character).
The artwork is colorful and the cartoon style characters add to the overall look and feel of the game. The music adds a nice touch, especially when you are in fever mode.
The Flip and The Flop
As mentioned earlier, you earn a treasure combo by collecting, you guessed it, treasure. The more treasure you get without getting hit by a monster the higher your combo, which seems to play into the rank you get at the end of the level, although it isn’t entirely clear what all plays into your rank. There are times though that you just can’t avoid being hit by an enemy, especially in the cases where you can tell that there is a trigger event that will cause the enemies to spawn, and you can’t avoid having the enemies spawn right on top of you - at times you just walk right into a spawning character. While this isn’t a game breaking issue, it is annoying when you have a really high treasure combo and then an enemy spawns right on top of your location.
The other minor issue is that there is no explanation around how rank is determined at the end of each level you run. The better the rank, the more keys you get, and the better treasure you can unlock. It would have been nice to see how the ranks are determined so that you can work towards getting a higher rank during your run.
Final Grade: A-
Lapis X Labyrinth is a quirky and simple yet challenging dungeon diver. The game is fast paced, colorful, and fun. It really opens up after a few levels when you can start to modify the equipment that you find. There are RPG elements mixed into this 2D action game. Fans of both RPGs and side scrolling action games alike will enjoy their time playing Lapis X Labyrinth.
Review copy provided by NIS America