|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|
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 theres also a lot of stuff that you may not like about this game depending on your preferences of what makes a good RPG.
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 youre 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.
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 dont have the same vested interest in our characters and party members because we didnt 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.
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 wont 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 mans first-person Zelda. Its full of combat, exploration, treasures, puzzles and leveling-up. In short, its 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.
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 youre not accurate enough with your stylus and you cant keep inside of the lines, then your spell will most likely be aborted. It can also be quite difficult to target an enemy if hes 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 its good fun but you might look a little weird doing this in a waiting room. While none of these control features are revolutionary, I cant 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, thats too bad because often its the most powerful weapon in your inventory and youll 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.
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 its 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 dont 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 cant escape from its own repetitiveness. While we may be misdirected temporarily, we soon find ourselves back on the well-beaten path.
CCC Senior Writer