Lapis x Labyrinth from NIS released on May 31 2019 and with a tagline that reads “Stack, raid, get PAID”, it definitely piqued our interest. The game makes extensive use of hack and slash dungeon crawling mechanics and if you’re a fan of button bashing, this game will be right up your alley.
In Lapis x Labyrinth, players will recruit a set of brave warriors to clear quests in the dangerous labyrinths surrounding a cute village. There are 8 different classes to pick from and your labyrinth raiding party will consist of 4 members each. This ultimately means that you can mix and match different classes in your party and create a range of combinations that work synergistically. The classes on offer in Lapix x Labyrinth include Hunter, Shielder, Necromancer, Gunner, Witch, Destroyer, Bishop and Maid.
Each of the 8 classes features a unique character design and can be further customized with a choice of voice and hairstyle. The customization options are quite limited but being able to change the base characters hairstyle and assign a name to each of them somewhat does make your team feel as if they are truly yours.
Once you’ve recruited your labyrinth raiding team and created your party, you can equip them with weapons and other items that boost their attack and defense. As previously mentioned, Lapis x Labyrinth is all about clearing quests in dangerous labyrinths. Unfortunately, these quests are limited to exploring a labyrinth, defeating monsters, destroying purple gems and finally beating boss enemies. It’s simple and formulaic but it works. Oh and there’s also a time limit and a nasty phantom that spawns and chases if you take too long but he’s not that much of an issue.
Lapis x Labyrinth is the type of game you’d want to load up when you just want to button bash your way to victory and satiate a need for instant gratification. This is reflected in its gameplay with single hero melee combos being extremely easy to pull off and hero combination attacks working with a press of a button. Since your labyrinth raiding party consists of 4 heroes stacked on top of each other, you can also swap between them on the fly and combo your basic attacks for even more damage.
Attacking enemies builds a “Fever” gauge and when the gauge is full, the game triggers a “Fever” mode. During “Fever”, players are immune to attacks and can obtain special items that boost their attack powers and other capabilities. There’s also massive amounts of treasure and gems to be collected during “Fever” while you cut your way through enemies. Ultimately, “Fever” is where the game truly shines and lets you go wild while racking up an insanely high treasure score. Even indestructible blocks in the labyrinth that obstruct your path may also start glowing and can be attacked to obtain even more gems during “Fever”. Everything about this just screams “Casino jackpot winnings!” to you while you’re in “Fever” and it is immensely rewarding to see the screen fill up with gems.
Graphically, Lapis x Labyrinth looks visually pleasing. The chibi anime aesthetic is incredibly cute and the monster designs are great and varied throughout. There’s also enough variation in environments to not get boring and the vibrant colours really do make the game stand out. Both kids and adults alike will enjoy the game’s visual style, especially if they are fans of cute anime aesthetic.
The soundtrack used in Lapis x Labyrinth is amazingly fun. An upbeat set of track play when you’re in the labyrinths and not only are they instantly recognizable, they are quite infectious with their tune. NIS have outdone themselves with this game’s soundtrack and it suits the hack and slash labyrinth exploring perfectly.
Lapis x Labyrinth isn’t a perfect game but it sure does try it’s best to deliver in almost every aspect. There are a few downsides to the game such as the lack of extensive cosmetic customization options and a rather slow start before some more important game mechanics are unlocked. Latter mechanics such as weapon enhancement, resource crafting and item selling add a layer of complexity to the game but these aren’t incredibly deep. This however isn’t a major problem when the game emphasizes its ease of play and fun gameplay over everything else.
Running through the labyrinths and filling the meter at the bottom right of the screen increases your chances of getting better loot. At the end of every labyrinth you’re given a score and the higher your score, the higher the rank you obtain. It’s satisfying to see your points tally up and the fact that the game lets you open treasure chests afterwards too rounds off the rewarding feeling it gives you. Opening these chests do have a random element to them though with regards to the loot you obtain. Most of the time you’re going to get items that aren’t that great but when you net a rare item, it’s usually great. Oddly though, the game doesn’t show you the gold value of the items you’ve obtained until you select “sell” on them at the in-game merchant, making item optimisation slightly more difficult than it should be.
Overall Lapis x Labyrinth is a great game you would pick up, enter a labyrinth, button bash your way to victory and then put down only to return later and do the same thing again. It’s addictive, it’s fast, it’s fun and it’s perfectly crafted for pick up and play gameplay. We reviewed the PS4 version but this game would be perfect on Nintendo Switch and thankfully, it is available on that platform. The PS4 version has no slowdown at all despite the screen being filled with flashy effects and playing through the 20+ hour long campaign was enjoyable throughout. Lapis x Labyrinth is highly recommended by us if you’re looking for a fun time.