By Steve Baltimore / May 29th, 2019
|Title||Lapis X Labyrinth|
|Release Date||May 28th, 2019|
|Platform||PlayStation 4, Switch|
Lapis X Labyrinth is the latest title from NIS America. I didn’t really know what to expect going into this one, but I am always willing to check out unique titles NISA brings to the table. When I first started this up I quickly discovered this was a side scrolling hack ‘n slash loot fest with some very cute artwork! Now the question is, did I have fun?
The story here is very simple. There is a Golden Tree located at the bottom of the labyrinth that is said to hold untold riches. There is a town established at the entrance to this labyrinth, but as the adventurers lost interest the town was abandoned. It was now waiting for one last adventurer to make a run at finally discovering the Golden Tree, and that time has come!
While the story is very basic, I did love the little bits of lore that were thrown out in between each area. These gave explanations of the next level’s location, history and what kinds of monsters you would run into. It really made me interested to see what kind of areas were deeper in the labyrinth. As someone who is big on character driven stories this still provided enough immersion to keep me going till the end.
Gameplay in Lapis X Labyrinth is just a pure joy. It’s the simple pleasure of running through tons of side scrolling stages and hacking away all enemies in your path. There is some platforming here but since they give you a nice triple jump and plenty of skills to give a boost, none of it was very annoying. I say that as someone that hates platforming. Before we get to slashing and platforming we must build a party first.
There are eight different classes to choose from as you build your party of four. You can create additional adventurers to move in and out of the party between stages if they have skills more focused for the the task at hand. These classes include: Hunter, Necromancer, Shielder, Maid, Gunner, Witch, Destroyer, and Bishop. Each one has a different set of class skills at their disposal and of course each will have specific gear they can use. When I found the four I thought worked the best together I just stuck with them, but it’s nice they gave you room to create more heroes if you want to,
Now that we have a party we’re ready to hit the dungeon. As you would expect, each character has a standard five hit combo with their normal attack. Pressing up or down will allow you to attack above or below you with this attack. Pressing in one of the four directions on the D-pad and the Triangle button will pull off a class move. Each class has their own unique move and these can easily be worked into some awesome combo attacks. If you press a direction and the X button you will use an assist skill. These attacks work very well to get you out of a sticky situation since you’re hitting whatever is opposite you with multiple attacks at once. When the EX gauge is full at the top of screen, pressing R1 will unleash an attack by all party members that will devastate any foes. Last but not least you can press L1 to switch party members at any time. Just be aware that some attacks will knock party members off your stack and you must pick them back up before they perish. This may also change the order in which they come up when switching party members.
The main goal here is to gather as much treasure as possible. You gain these by defeating enemies and simply finding treasure. The more hits you get on the enemy without taking damage the more bonus points you will gain. When the Fever Gauge fills up this will trigger Fever Time, and you will think you’ve won every slot machine ever! Enemies and blocks you hit will throw out mountains of gems. When you collect enough gems it will spin the slots and you will gain a buff item. These are used automatically and will increase attack, defense or maybe even give you better gold drops.
While slaying enemies and plundering stages are a ton of fun, you are on the clock here. You need to find and open a certain number of gates before the time limit is up. When that timer expires the Soul Eater will arrive. If he touches you the quest is over and you will have to start over again. I didn’t have much trouble finding enough gates to proceed most of the time. Once you have opened enough to progress an arrow will appear and lead you to the exit.
Once you’re back in town it’s time to look at your spoils and see what equipment you’ve obtained. Keeping your party equipped with the best gear for the area you’re in is essential to survival. If you are in stages with lots of metal enemies, have weapons that do more damage to them, or if lots of foes use poison attacks, put on gear to lessen the effects. Each piece of gear you equip will cost you gear points. You start off with 20 points and you will be able unlock more as you progress. I found this both annoying and kinda fun at the same time. It was fun trying to get the most out of the gear I had while spreading out the love of good gear to the entire party, but annoying when I was one point short of being able to use something better.
When you complete an entire level of quests a new facility will open in town. These will include things like a trader, a foundry, lunch shop, and a dojo. Each of these will allow you to exchange gold for item and buffs. Some of these will require items you obtain for completing quests or items you find in the dungeons as well. This will get quite expensive in a hurry, so you will have to manage your finances to get the most bang for your buck. I thought this was a really great way of adding depth to this game without overwhelming the player with a ton options right off the bat.
I have to say I was very surprised at how good Lapis x Labyrinth was. After 20 hours I found the gameplay fast, fluid and most importantly fun. The upgrade system is slowly introduced so you never feel overwhelmed, and I thought the difficulty curve was just about right for this type of game. Some of the maps can get a bit confusing even with guidance they give you and some of the enemies late in the game can be very cheap with attacks that cause instant death or knock your stack out of whack. Still I have to say if you want a great Action RPG you could do a lot worse at the $49.99 price for the limited edition that comes with some extra goodies.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
Action RPGLapis x LabyrinthLootNIS America