lapis x labyrinth review
Lapis x Labyrinth_20190507224135

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – Fever Pitch (PS4)

From the minds within Nippon Ichi Software (and brought to us by NIS America), Lapis x Labyrinth is a dungeon-crawling adventure where treasure is your one goal. Playing as a ragtag group of adventurers, you’re tasked with burrowing deeper in the titular labyrinth, which is said to house untold rewards. Easy, right?

Well, if you want to play Lapis x Labyrinth, you better love grinding. Probably around 90 percent of what you’ll be doing in Lapis x Labyrinth is killing enemies every which way. There’s very little else besides combat, so if you’re not a fan of the grind, maybe this isn’t the game for you. However, should you enjoy a little mindless hacking and slashing (to generalize things a bit), this may be just the thing. What Lapis x Labyrinth does isn’t complex or groundbreaking in any way, but it’s a solid action-RPG that will suck you in and make you want to see how far your wits can take you.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – Adventures From All Corners

The core conceit of Lapis x Labyrinth is simple. You play as a treasure hunting party who turns up in a down-on-its-luck town. That’s about all the story there is, so if you’re someone who likes a deep narrative with your RPG, possibly look elsewhere. It’s little more than an excuse to get you crawling through dungeons to claim your rewards.

Any given party is made up of four treasure hunters, each with their own unique class. There are eight job classes available, and each one is available from the start. In addition, you’re free to mix and match party members as you please, giving you plenty of options before you take the plunge.

My favorite part of Lapis x Labyrinth was tinkering with different combinations of classes. Each class equips a certain type of weapon, and has different abilities and stats, giving you plenty of opportunity to mix things up. The fact that none of these classes are locked means players can immediately play with the mechanics in a meaningful way.

The eight classes run the gamut from your standard RPG tropes to more unique choices. A Hunter deals fast, close-ranged attacks, while the Gunner, naturally, prefers to keep his attacks at a range. More off-the-wall picks like Maid and Bishop offer even more variety, and help encapsulate the main thing I kept going back to when thinking of Lapis x Labyrinth: plain fun.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – Where’s the Treasure?

The bulk of your time dong will be spent exploring the labyrinth in an attempt to score some treasure. Lapis x Labyrinth is divided into missions, each one sending you into the depths. Combat in the labyrinth is fairly simple—there’s no combos or anything to keep track of. Each character has access to a basic attack and a couple of special abilities. You’ll also able to send the character at the top of your stack (we’ll get to that in a bit) for a unique attack based on their class. Finally, you can charge up an all-out assault that throws your entire party at the monster horde.

Lapis x Labyrinth occasionally turns into  “fever mode,” which resembles a slot machine, for lack of a better analogy. The background is full of flashing lights, and rainbow gems will fly from every enemy you damage. I was never quite sure what triggered this change, but I’m assuming it’s related to the amount of damage you give. I was full of joy every time I entered fever mode; with the flashy background and rainbow gems everywhere, I truly felt invincible.

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For a game that is fairly simple, Lapis x Labyrinth features a pleasing amount of variety, which is what ultimately keeps it so engaging. The different combinations of characters, who again, each have their own weapons and skills, as well as shuffling through your party mid-combat, go a long way to keep things fresh.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

While combat is simple in its execution, it’s definitely not devoid of strategy. While traveling through dungeons, characters are stacked on top of each other. Probably not the most efficient form of adventuring, but whatever. While the stacking looks silly at first, it actually factors into how you play the game.

Only the character at the bottom of the stack is able to consistently damage, though conversely, they are the only ones who can take damage, as well. You’re able to constantly switch the formation of your party, which adds not only variety, but strategy. Sure, having a character who deals high damage as leader has its advantages, but you also must be able to make sure that they don’t lose all of their health, and therefore become unplayable.

When forming your party, you also need to equip them with various weapons, armor, artifacts (which provide you with different boosts), and snacks (which you can consume in-between floors). Each item has an “equip cost,” which adds to your equip total. You must ensure that your stock does not exceed that number before you push on. You can buy upgrades to increase your limit, but more powerful items cost more, meaning you must consistently keep an eye on your limit. Lapis x Labyrinth focuses much more on the “action” in action-RPG, but there are still some noticeable traditional RPG elements here. And those may be enough to entice some more wary fans in.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – Beautiful, Yet Deadly

As you journey further into the labyrinth, you encounter a greater variety of environments. From a dense forest to a water-soaked cave, there is plenty of diversity of ecosystems to be had. Lapis x Labyrinth’s beautiful 2D artwork really helped sell the adventure, too. Non-pixel art 2D games are somewhat of a rarity these days, and while there’s nothing mind-blowing about the graphics, it’s still pretty, nonetheless. Character sprites look great and move fluidly, and the enemy designs vary from cute and quirky to somewhat off-putting, though in a good way.

As this is a game about grinding, you’ll become quite familiar with that soundtrack. Thankfully, the soundtrack is a good one; one that doesn’t drive you insane after hearing it non-stop. In fact, I found myself playing the central hub’s theme right in my head before it even kicked off. As there’s no dialogue to be found here, save for some choice soundbites from the characters, the music is the main aural experience you’ll be getting.

The music is more atmospheric than pulse-pounding, but it works. This is a game about exploration, after all. It sets the mood for your adventure, and will probably crawl inside your head for weeks after playing. Add in some smooth animations (save for moments where there is a lot happening on your screen), and this adventure is at least aesthetically pleasing, if emotionally taxing.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review – Fight, Fail, Repeat

Lapis x Labyrinth isn’t a particularly challenging game. However, there were moments where the monsters  wiped out my team. At one point, your guild level will likely be outclassed by the level of your current mission. But you shouldn’t worry about trudging back to past missions to get experience. No matter how you fare in a mission, be it success or failure, you’ll still gain experience when the mission ends.

The fact that you can try a mission that’s maybe a little too high-level for you, yet still gain experience if you fail, is huge. It’s honestly the thing that kept me going in Lapis x Labyrinth, even if I died right at the end of a boss fight, which caps off every mission. Yes, you’ll do a lot of grinding, but it’s a rewarding grind. You can tackle even the highest-level missions, go as far as your team possibly can, and you’ll still come out stronger. This process also encourages you to mix up your party members and equipment even more. There’s never one “right” combination of characters, though. You’ll just need to find what works best for you in each specific instance.

This is a game where I could plug a few minutes in, try to make some kind of progress, and gain experience either way. There may not be a ton of complexity to be had, but what it offers is plenty of variety, fast-paced action, and a desire to push forward. While the labyrinth is full of dangers, the rewards can be great.

Lapis x Labyrinth review code provided by publisher. Version 1.01 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring, please see our Review Policy.

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  • Lovely 2D visuals
  • Atmospheric music that will get stuck in your head
  • Combat is fast-paced and offers plenty of variety
  • Grinding doesn't feel like a chore
  • Combat is fairly simple
  • A few animation hiccups during high-activity moments