Deep Labyrinth Review
Deep Labyrinth box art
System: DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: Ingram 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Atlus 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Aug 2006 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
Review by Cole 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Deep Labyrinth reduces the RPG genre to its core, which will have some players feeling half empty and others half full.
By Cole Smith

There is lots to like about Deep Labyrinth, a first-person hack-and-slash, dungeon-crawling RPG, presented in full 3D (that was a mouthful). But at the same time there’s also a lot of stuff that you may not like about this game depending on your preferences of what makes a good RPG.

Deep Labyrinth screenshot

Whether you are the type that will enjoy Deep Labyrinth depends on a few things such as if you are the type to see the cup half empty or half full – or if you have attention deficit or not. Firstly, I would not recommend this game if you are a serious RPG fan. Some may find it too light and frivolous, with the developers taking liberties by mixing in too many genres and diluting the traditional RPG format. But if you’re looking for something unique with plenty of real-time action and you enjoy experimenting with new control functions on the DS, then you might get a charge out of Deep Labyrinth.

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The best way that I can think of to describe Deep Labyrinth is as a good RPG that has been distilled to only the fun parts. But keep in mind that this “in between” stuff such as the storyline, exploration and character interaction is the glue that holds games such as these together. To simply reduce a game to the best bits robs us of the reward for enduring and persevering. It also lessens the impact on an emotional level since we don’t have the same vested interest in our characters and party members because we didn’t struggle through the game. But on the other hand, those with ADD will have finished reading this review after the first sentence and are probably on their way to EB Games right now.

Deep Labyrinth screenshot

There can be no doubt that Deep Labyrinth is an innovative game. It truly exploits the touch control system and dual screen not to mention the graphic processing capabilities to bring you the graphics in 3D, which means that you get a first-person perspective of the environment. You won’t be controlling a fully-rendered character in the third person using an isometric perspective like you might be thinking. Deep Labyrinth shares a lot in common with games like Doom and less with Zelda even though it could be defined as a poor man’s first-person Zelda. It’s full of combat, exploration, treasures, puzzles and leveling-up. In short, it’s an action game with RPG elements as opposed to an RPG game with action elements.

In typical RPG fashion, the game follows the quest of a young boy named Shawn who finds himself in an alternate reality dominated by creatures that discard unimportant memories. Shawn has to find his mother, father and his beloved dog. To this he must enter the maze of the Deep Labyrinth and deal with each encounter while he attempts to find his way out of each level.

Deep Labyrinth screenshot

When confronted by monsters you will have weapons and magic spells at your disposal, to dispose of them. By slashing the stylus on the screen you will activate your sword and slice at your enemy. You have to tap on the enemy with the stylus first to lock-on to them. Unfortunately there is a delay between command and execution which is quite annoying. I never did take a hit because of it, but it makes the game feel unpolished. When casting magic spells you have to draw a symbol inside of a small box. If you’re not accurate enough with your stylus and you can’t keep inside of the lines, then your spell will most likely be aborted. It can also be quite difficult to target an enemy if he’s slighting obscured by any kind of scenery of foreground object such as clump of weeds or a small shrub.

Other interesting control schemes including blowing or yelling into the microphone to activate a particular command. This seems to work well and it’s good fun but you might look a little weird doing this in a waiting room. While none of these control features are revolutionary, I can’t recall a game that has mixed and matched as many of them as this game has. I only wish they were more responsive and had a definitive sense of purpose. Some feel like pure novelties.

The more you use a particular weapon the more skill points you will accrue which will make it more deadly. Killing monsters will give you more hit points and allow you to obtain more magical spells. Like the swords, if you use a certain magic spell more than others it will automatically level-up and become more powerful over time. The only problem with that is that if you get bored with using it, that’s too bad because often it’s the most powerful weapon in your inventory and you’ll need to use it to take care of more powerful monsters.

The gameplay is very formulaic. As you solve puzzles, enter rooms, fight monster, find treasures, receive points, face off with boss, you will move to the next level to do it all over again, often in the same order.

Deep Labyrinth screenshot

The closer you look at the graphics, the more you can see each individual pixel. When you glance at the screen, things look a whole lot better. In this case it’s not conducive to stare. Yasunori Mitsuda composed the soundtrack which has some rich symphonic textures to it but it sounds more ambient and atmospheric which gives it a license to repeat since we don’t hear a recognizable melody over and over which would really drive us nuts.

The everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach attempts to overshadow the lack of depth in Deep Labyrinth, but it can’t escape from its own repetitiveness. While we may be misdirected temporarily, we soon find ourselves back on the well-beaten path.

Features:

  • The first DS game with real-time first-person combat!
  • Scenario design by Masato Katou (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy XI Online) and musical score by Yasonori Mitsuda (Chrono Cross, Xenosaga)!
  • Touch-screen sword-swinging and spell-casting!
  • Boss battles too epic to be contained on a single screen!

    By Cole Smith
    CCC Senior Writer

    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    3.2

    Graphics
    Average looking graphics with low res textures. It is presented in 3D and does look great for a handheld.

    3.5

    Control
    The control system is like a three-ring circus and might take a while to get the hang of.

    3.3

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    The soundtrack is texturally rich but it's meandering and repetitive.

    2.7

    Play Value
    There's not enough depth to warrant many re-plays of this game. Once through and you've seen it all.

    3.1

    Overall Rating - Fair
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
  • Screenshots / Images

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