Developed by Nippon Ichi Software Published by NIS America Reviewed on Switch (also available on PlayStation 4)
How many games have you played where you run into a dungeon, fight your way down to the bottom, defeat the boss, and claim the loot left over in your victory? It’s a pretty common type of game that many gamers have experienced at least once. If you focus more on the collecting aspect, substitute the story with platforming, and give yourself a timer to complete every stage, that’s Lapis x Labyrinth. It’s a fast paced, quick to pick up and play RPG/platformer that just might be worth your attention.
For better or for worse, there’s very little story in Lapis x Labyrinth. You’re a part of an adventure guild that explores the floors of different dungeons in the area. The guild hunts for treasure and to clear levels to help the main town prosper. The more areas you clear, the more the town grows. This allows you to get access to stores that power up your characters, craft and disassemble weapons, etc. There is a variety of heroes to pick from.
You level up and gain stats like a traditional RPG. Lapis x Labyrinth plays like a side scrolling beat ‘em up where your team’s individual stats are shared. If you decide to bring in the hard hitting Destroyer class adventurer into your party, then your whole team can hit just as hard as that Destroyer class. If you get separated or a party member gets KO’d in the dungeon, then you lose all of the bonuses that party member provides to the group.
Your party’s cute heads are vertically stack on top of one another. Each head also represents the amount of times you’re able to do an extra jump. The stats you have as well as your movement options are entirely related to who’s in your party. The best strategy is try to get through all of the floors with as much of your party still living as possible. The moment you lose one, you immediately start to feel detrimental effects. If your members get split up by enemy attacks, then they slowly start to lose health. You will want to hurry up and collect them as soon as possible. Also, you definitely don’t want to continue onto the next floor without any party members separated. Once you do, they get left behind and you have to continue on without any way of getting them back until you either complete or fail the current dungeon quest. The only ways to fail a quest is to lose every single one of your party members, allow the living treasure chest to take any damage from an enemy, or run out of time to complete the floor. A Phantom appears and starts to stalk your party when you run out of time. If the Phantom touches you, the quest and all the treasure during that run disappears.
Characters may have simple move sets, but once you master them, string combos will come naturally. There are also special moves your main and secondary character can perform in conjunction. Once your meter is to its max, you have access to a powerful team attack. Everyone in your party can unleash a massive special attack that hits everything around you. Every once in a while, you’ll reach a FEVER mode where you do more damage, but more importantly, you’ll also generate a massive amount of money and bonus drops as you attack, defeat enemies, and attack elements of the stage. Whenever you reach this state, you want to attack anything that’s either moving, flashing, or both for even more chances to getting bigger, better prizes at the end of the dungeon.
The only way to enter the dungeon is to go to the guild board and accept a quest. From there, you’ll decide where to go and which floor you want to adventure. Each quest has slight variations, but the true objective is to find each of the purple keys. These keys fills a meter and once you get it to the half way mark, then you’re able to go to the next part of the stage. Fill it all the way to the max however, and you’ll wind up with more keys. At the end of each dungeon, stronger waves of enemies spawn. You must defeat them so you can keep the treasure you find. After which, you can use the keys to get even more loot/treasure or save them. The more you collected in each stage, the more you can spend.
The soundtrack doesn’t add a lot to Lapis x Labyrinth since many of the tracks are pretty bland. The only break you get from hearing the same level track is when it forces you to travel previous areas. The sound effects and music tracks all go out the window once you reach the FEVER state. It plays upbeat music that signifies the amount of time you have to get extra loot. Outside of the similar tracks that’s used in the majority of the stages, my one true gripe is that the game offers little other than just the same routine. Pick your party, enter the dungeon, and finish the dungeon. Rinse and repeat, ad nausea. However, is the game’s strong points as well. Lapis x Labyrinth is incredibly easy to play or a few minutes and just put down whenever you want. Whether you want to have a marathon session trying to achieve the highest rank in every stage, or just feel like knocking one or two stages off in your limited free time, this game is great to just start and stop whenever. This is especially true if you play the Nintendo Switch version.
In the end, there’s nothing overtly breathtaking about Lapis x Labyrinth, but still, I’d definitely recommend it if you like playing quick and wild dungeon diving adventure games. The designs are cute and the game is perfect for quick, easy fun whether you want to play for just a few minutes or a couple of hours. As far as side scrolling treasure hunting RPG/beat em ups go, Lapis x Labyrinth is a pretty solid pick.