NIS America has been bringing a lot of titles to the American market that used to never make it this far. We’ve had some gems come through and it begs to wonder if Lapis x Labyrinth is one of them. The premise behind it is that you are a leader of a group of warriors. You receive an invitation to a town that has seen a rapid decline in everything that a village can be. The mayor is excited that you chose to visit and promises you rewards based on how well you do. She even promises that merchants will come back eventually. They give you a place to live and even assign you your own butler. He’s about as useful as a flip phone in a smart phone age, but I suppose it’s the thought that counts.
Where Lapis x Labyrinth is unusual is the layout of the game, how your team forms, and how you battle. You choose two class types before you even meet the mayor. You will have different jobs to choose from like a necromancer, hunter, and gunner. After the introductions are complete, you can then add several more classes to your party. This is where the game truly gets interesting. Your team will stand on top of each other’s heads, forming a sort of totem pole with the leader on the bottom. As you traverse your way through the labyrinth, you can use a plethora of button combinations to deal massive damage to the enemies surrounding you. There will be “encounters” that occur when a barrier forms around your party and you cannot leave until every enemy is vanquished. You can change your leader any time you’d like by hitting the L button.
During your exploration of the labyrinth, there will be an extremely entertaining Fever mode. This is where every single hit on enemies or blocks around you erupts into a colorful explosion of gems that pushes the processors of the Switch near their limits. It’s a satisfying experience and is my favorite part of the game since the whole goal is to loot the labyrinth for every piece of treasure you can find. There are a lot of treasure chests to uncover and warp points that guide you through to your goal. Upon reaching the end you are graded on your performance. The highest grade I saw was SSS achieved by Nintendo Times’ very own Craig when he gave it a go. I typically hovered around the S to SS mark. When I died in the dungeon I got a C grade. Apparently death is average on the grade curve.
You will also be rewarded with keys that can be used to unlock chests at this time. The more keys the chest takes to open, the more likely the item inside will be of higher quality. It’s random and there are no guarantees that you will like what you get. You may also want to remember what types of weapons your favorite crew uses because you may end up opening a chest for a weapon type that none of your character classes can equip. I just opened chests and shrugged my shoulders about whether or not I cared about the reward. Did the Greatsword help me? I don’t know. I still don’t know. I honestly don’t care. I would just check my inventory to see what I could improve and moved on.
I would like to preface my next comments by stating that I do understand why they placed time limits on your exploration of the dungeons. It plays into the idea that the areas are flooded by a toxic level of miasma and that you can’t stay down there very long before succumbing to their effects. I get it. I just really can’t stand time limits on any game. It sucks the enjoyment out of the experience for me. It’s challenging. It’s hard. Those are things we typically want. There are other ways to make the experience difficult without placing that hard limit on your adventure. It requires you to go through much faster than you’d typically go and that can make it seem important to replay each area several times to maximize the amount of loot you can pick up. It’s cheap and irritating, although your disdain for it will likely vary. If you hate time limits, this could impact whether or not you would like to give this game your attention.
The graphics are beautifully colorful. The character models are cute and interesting. There is a good mix of enemy types and the labyrinths are laid out nicely. The sounds of your battle and the music playing as you explore are both top notch and adds to the experience so much that if they had been done poorly, the game would just be an utter train wreck. However, they did a very nice job with it and it had a positive effect on my experience. You can finish the game in around 20 hours. Probably less if you aren’t me, and you aren’t. Craig proved to me that I am much less adept at the 2D side-scrolling button mashers than other people on the planet. I also don’t like Super Smash Brothers, so take that into consideration. It’s boring.
If you’re looking for a fast paced, high reward, loot-fest then Lapis x Labyrinth will fit the bill nicely. I found that I couldn’t play for more than an hour or so at a time before getting a little bored or tired of doing the same things over and over. There are plenty of ways they spruced up the game by adding the many classes and lots of weapons/armor/artifacts. The shops will open, and you can sell your finds for gold to purchase new or different items. You can also buy higher gear scores because each piece of armor or weapon has a cost that goes toward it. Think of it as a salary cap on a sports team. The joint salaries of all your players can’t go above a certain amount of money. If you have a gear cap of 30 then you can’t equip all the best items because they will inevitably cost too much, and you will have to make sacrifices elsewhere. Speaking to selling items, a higher ‘salary cap’ could cost you 10,000 gold. If you sell a set of rusty blades, you will get 5 gold for them. Wow. I have to sell 2,000 of them? Hardly worth it…
Lapis x Labyrinth Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 7/107/10
- Gameplay - 6/106/10
- Lasting Appeal - 5/105/10
Final Thoughts: WORTH CONSIDERING
Time limits and ridiculously repetitive gameplay are the bane of Lapis x Labyrinth. The redeeming qualities are the explosive Fever episodes and the totem pole like party formation. After the first area, the game’s difficulty spikes and can make for some frustrating failures. Proceed with caution, but for the right type of player it can be a fun and rewarding experience.