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Deep Labyrinth Package Art
GENRE
RPG
DEVELOPER
Interactive Brains
PUBLISHER
Atlus
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
Yes
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Deep Labyrinth

How deep can a dungeon crawler get? Typically known for their simplicity and ease of play, games in this RPG subgenre are allowed to have shallow plots and repetitive gameplay, filling the same void in the player's heart as mind-numbing television does in so many viewers' souls. The developers over at Interactive Brains knew that with a title likeDeep Labyrinth, their game had to be able to satisfy even the most seasoned spelunker, while not scaring the newcomer away from the darkness. Achieving the goal of attracting two distinct audiences, however, might have been too lofty an ideal to reach, even though the effort to do so is obviously whole-hearted.

visuals

Graphically, the game is rather dynamic. At the outset, the story is presented in an anime style, utilizing both screens to tell the story of the boy Shawn and his disintegrating family. Once the actual gameplay starts, the player is put into a first-person perspective in a standard three-dimensional world. The character models are fair, with the occasional oddity, such as an anthropomorphized mouse's tail sticking out the front of the creature, rather than its rear. The textures are pleasing, but suffer from an awkward pixelation, as do most of the animated effects.

The game makes thorough use of the handheld's dual screens. During gameplay, the top screen shows two different views of the same map: one zoomed in and displaying interactive objects in the vicinity, and the other showing a more complete map of the greater area. During conversations with non-playable characters, play stops and the two screens show two different perspectives of the NPC with whom the player is conversing. A bit unnecessary, yes, but an interesting use, nonetheless.

audio

On the whole, the entirety of the audio for Deep Labyrinth is well done. Voice acting is absent beyond the opening scene, with the exception of the occasional barking of Shawn's dog, Ace. Sound effects throughout the game are surprisingly full of depth and possess a range that show off the hardware's capability.

A rather large attraction to this title was derived from the fact that Yasunori Mitsuda, original composer for Chrono Trigger, wrote and organized the music for this title. Mitsuda-san's compositions, in this instance, work well, but are not stellar enough to stand out on their own. The music is, without a doubt, far from annoying, but isn't the type that gets stuck in most people's heads. The transition, though, from exploring to battling a boss is the most impressive of them all, starting from moody synthesizers and then erupting into a rock ballad as soon as the player gets into range of the monster. This is all not to say, though, that the music is terrible; actually, the music is surprisingly enjoyable in the more relaxed areas of the game.

gameplay

Every aspect of gameplay, apart from movement, is controlled by way of the stylus, from selecting menu items to slashing the sword to casting spells. The input for moving the character around is determined by the handedness of the player: left-handed folks use the face buttons to move, while the right-handed use the D-pad. The player selects his method of battling on the menu running along the side of the touch screen, whether it be slashing with the sword, casting spells or blocking with the shield.

Attacks with the sword are straight-forward, although the translation of the movements lag in a noticeable manner. Spell-casting, which is done on a grid once the magic option is selected, is more responsive and the system is fairly forgiving, although not as much once the action gets fast-paced and complicated.

As briefly mentioned earlier, this title is composed of two games occurring in the same universe. The First Chapter, featuring Shawn and his family, is intended for those familiar with neither the RPG nor dungeon crawl genres. There is about an hour of redundant exploration in near-identical levels before the game picks up and the player is actually thrust into the labyrinth proper. On the positive side, this time allows for the story to build, the player to level up rather quickly and become comfortable with the controls. More experienced players can start on the Second Chapter, which immediately commences with a fight against a walking skeleton, armed with a sword.

multiplayer

N/A

overall

Fans of portable dungeon crawlers with touch-screen interaction, rejoice. This is the game you have been waiting for. Deep Labyrinth is also a fine example of the notion that stories do indeed have a place in video games. By taking the perspective of a boy observing what could very well be the end of his parents' relationship, and then sprinkling in hints of what has happened between them, not only have the writers provided a new, mythical take to a coming-of-age story, they have also carved out more depth for the genre.

final score 7.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Chris Boette
Staff Profile | Email
"Hmmm, kinda gamey."


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