Lapis x Labyrinth is quite a bit. From the crowded HUD and gem-filled explosions of its 2D motion gameplay to the procession of stat boosting methods and huge merchandise lists of its role-playing layers, Nippon Ichi Software program’s cute and vibrant dungeon platformer threatens to overwhelm, however nonetheless skilfully onboards gamers for a captivating and beneficiant (although maybe repetitive) expertise.
Gamers begin out on the planet of Lapis x Labyrinth by choosing two characters from a vibrant solid of RPG archetypes (with some characteristically off-kilter choices, such because the status-effect dealing Maid). As you enter the primary stage, you shortly uncover the sport’s first and most memorable gimmick – that your celebration sallies forth stacked on prime of one another – an amusing, kids-in-a-trenchcoat association the designers name the ‘Dango’ system (after the Japanese candy you’ve could have picked up at a Japanese cultural honest, or in a Katamari. Or you realize, Japan).
As daft as this sounds, this stack of lovely chibi warriors is a sometimes good little bit of design, speaking issues just like the at present chosen chief (cycled with L) and what number of jumps you may have left to carry out. As soon as away from the tutorial, you’re free to create extra celebration members within the sport’s easy hub city, the place you may equip, settle for and journey to the following quest with as much as 4 in a workforce.
4 adventurers imply 4 jumps, and the gameplay house within the sport’s dungeons traits in direction of being sufficiently roomy to be able to accommodate this, in addition to to fill the display screen with enemies. Swinging or firing a weapon has a Smash Bros-lite arrange the place there are two most important assault buttons (Y and X) and the kind of assault you carry out will be altered by urgent a sure route. The fundamental assaults on Y will be chained collectively, and there are further celebration assaults on A and R.
Nonetheless you select to battle, the best way that your assaults join is suitably crunchy and the controls are pleasingly responsive. Assaults have a tendency to permit the participant to drift in place and will be mixed with the quadruple soar, permitting gamers to keep away from dungeon flooring teeming with critters and a frequently increasing record of environmental hazards. On this manner, the platforming and preventing parts are pulled to extremes becoming the aesthetic – assume Steamworld Dig or Monster Boy caught in an explosion at a pachinko parlour, and also you’re a number of the manner there.
That is by no means more true than whenever you efficiently dispatch sufficient enemies to set off Fever mode, granting you invincibility, filling the display screen with fireworks and vivid lights, and inflicting enemies to blow up in a bathe of gems that feed right into a slot system for some further loot. An countless deluge of cash, crafting supplies, weapons and kit is a central hook of exploration and fight within the sport, and fever mode is a dopamine hit given kind, emblematic of the sport’s total addictiveness.
Thus far, so busy – so to be able to hold issues focussed, every ground in a quest has a five-minute time restrict. It’s as much as you to make use of this time to seek out and destroy the gems locking the ground’s exit, stage up your celebration sufficiently for the hunt’s boss and collect sufficient loot to feed into the various minor targets you’ll have associated to the crafting, change and dojo parts again on the sport’s most important hub. Cleverly, the time-limit isn’t a tough deadline – you’ll as an alternative be ambushed by an indestructible spectre that may kill you on contact (and demise means shedding virtually all the pieces gained in your try). It’s doable (however nonetheless difficult) to evade this, which means you’re all the time weighing up the professionals and cons of going deeper into the maze-like ranges.
At its finest, Nippon Ichi Software program is a grasp of this type of busy sport system marshalling, and it’s no shock to see the extra conventional roleplaying parts dealt with with their common aptitude. The hub-town’s dojo, foundry, merchandise change and lunch store enable gamers to put money into their character’s base stats, merchandise enhancements, crafting and different modifiers. Fortunately, these are launched and expanded at a suitably sluggish tempo giving gamers time and ample house to be taught and perceive their nuanced results.
Better of all, this facet of the sport doesn’t undermine the dungeon exploration or skirmishes. Cleverly, you begin each quest at stage one, so regardless that there are quite a few methods of investing in progress, you may’t merely enter a dungeon overpowered and able to run previous all enemies to achieve the exit. That is one thing the sport additional enforces by often locking you into encounters with massive teams – and the final quest of every space, which pits you in opposition to a screen-filling boss creature, have to be challenged with solely a single ground value of levelling.
Earlier than the credit roll on Lapis x Labyrinth, you’ll tackle 80 quests throughout 10 distinct stage sorts and journey via roughly 220 maps, so it’s maybe unsurprising that there’s a honest quantity of repeated content material. Within the early-mid sport, the reuse of earlier layouts makes the participant suspect that the sport is stretched slightly too skinny, however fortunately in the long run, this doesn’t develop right into a outstanding challenge. Moreover, the stability of the sport is such that grinding earlier quests isn’t a necessity – although that is all the time an choice, and gamers searching for an actual problem will discover a choice of postgame ranges that can require this type of preparation.
General, the sport presents a major chunk of content material when it comes to ranges and methods, and the standard of presentation – interesting character and enemy artwork, painterly backgrounds and crowd pleasing graphical overlays all thrown on the display screen with solely a touch of framerate unsteadiness – is excessive.
Nonetheless, it’s simple to see the place enhancements may very well be made: behind the interesting artwork the extent designs are barely rudimentary block mazes; the fight parts are repetitious by their nature, and it’s undoubtedly too simple to fall again on mindlessly hammering Y to assault; the distinction between every character class isn’t particularly pronounced, and investing in additional than 4 characters appears slightly pointless; it’s additionally true that if story is necessary to you, there’s not plenty of it right here. Nonetheless, when you depart these considerations for a sequel, pressure your self to experiment and deal with the sport in a number of sittings, you’ll discover that Lapis x Labyrinth gives greater than its justifiable share of riches to uncover.
Nippon Ichi Software program has hit a terrific method that avoids the worst excesses of repetition or frustration. An addictive mixture of 2D exploration and fight, Lapis x Labyrinth is a cavalcade of color and complicated methods that doesn’t outstay its welcome via a sizeable 20-hour marketing campaign.