Jumping into the mysterious world of Lapis x Labyrinth is a wild and crazy ride, full of secrets and enemies looking to ruin your fun. In this ARPG you’ll be assembling a team of warriors who band together to take out unrelenting enemies in a dungeon-style approach, where tactical thinking is needed and insane action unfolds. Nippon Ichi Software has created a title that’s vibrant in its visual aesthetics while delivering an undeniably entertaining experience, that just about any fan of the genre will gravitate towards.
What to Expect
With over 8 different character classes, 4.000 unique combinations with regards to team building, and an abundance of treasures to discover, Lapis x Labyrinth is full of exciting adventures. The way you attack the enemy revolves around a stacking mechanic known as “Dango”, a style in which each one of your team members is stacked on top of one another and attack in unison. You’ll be able to swap between them in real time which grants you the ability to pull off insane combos, and strategic set plays in order to take down the incredibly strong enemies that lie ahead. In typical RPG fashion, your main agenda is to level up your team as much as possible in order to keep up with the difficulty, and to gather enough resources to craft stronger weapons. Throughout your Labyrinth adventures there will be moments where quick decision making becomes the norm, and equipping the necessary items becomes imperative to survive. It’s an all out war in the Golden Forest, but do you have what it takes to win?
One of the more defining features of Nippon Ichi Software titles comes in their visual execution, and how well crafted their design is pertaining to characters and stage layouts. In Lapis x Labyrinth this is no different as every stage you embark on is meticulously designed to capture a different feeling, and the enemies that inhabit the area behave in relation to that design. What’s really striking is the frantic “Fever Mode”, which is enabled once your team accumulate enough meter, and that’s when the visuals really pop. It’s a cornucopia of colors that hit you from every corner of the screen, an impressive display of gems and coins that soar from left to right as you feverishly attempt to inflict more damage on the hordes of enemies that approach. The UI is simple enough that you won’t feel overwhelmed and so clean that you often forget a UI even exists. You have your health meter along with your MP and Fever meter located at the top left, which give you an indication of what’s available and when to go nuts. This is a very notable feature in most NIS titles that we tend to love most. Simplicity is luxury, they say.
Just as the gameplay is frantic and menacing at times, so too is the sound and music that accompanies it all. To create a game that’s satisfying, the sound and music must play in harmony to the gameplay, as it helps to set the tone moving forward. Immersiveness is one way to describe it because throughout your time in each area, there are a variety of sounds that help to breathe life into the experience. The music compliments the fast-paced tempo and never grows stale even after hearing it several times, just because you’re so involved in everything that’s happening that it all just melds together wonderfully. We can’t help but point out how much we like the character sound effects as well, with every groan, scream, and snarky comment that comes out of their mouth adding more entertainment to the mix.
Lapis x Labyrinth is an incredibly boisterous title that never fails to deliver in its gameplay department, because there’s just so much to unlock the more you progress. You start off the game by being introduced to the mayor and he explains how the village is falling on hard times, and is in desperate need of cash. From there, your objective is to sign up for quests at the guild and defeat as many enemies as possible during your expedition. What’s cool about the battle system in Lapis x Labyrinth is that you have a 4 character stack that somewhat resembles the tower form in Disgaea, and allows you to perform simultaneous attacks with your team members. What’s special here is that, depending on how your stack is organized, each member will perform a different attack, and so this is where a lot of the strategy comes into play over the long term. Every class will have their own unique characteristics that can aid you in certain situations, along with weapons that you gather by unlocking special treasure chests after completing a dungeon.
These treasure chests can be obtained throughout your journey, and as you continue to build your treasure combo meter, that allows you to potentially unlock more powerful tools for each of your characters. Every dungeon is organized in such a way where you’re never able to explore everything on your first attempt, and so you’re encouraged to go back at times to gather hidden treasure chests for more benefits. There are various floors that you’ll need to clear, and If you happen to linger around for too long on one of them, then the enemies become invincible, which results in an immediate death. To elaborate further on the Fever Mode mentioned earlier, the way it works is quite simple: the more you continue to build the meter it allows the team to unleash powerful attacks while invincible, giving you the advantage over the enemy. This Fever Mode also grants you buffs which are immediate and will help you to clear floors a lot faster. It’s very easy to build meter in the game if you relentlessly attack enemies and keep your teammates alive at all times. Equipping healing items pre-battle is important since you don’t uncover any during your expedition, so be sure not to forget! You’ll regain health after every successful fever mode, but it’s not something you want to rely on too much, especially when quests grow increasingly harder over time.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
Lapis x Labyrinth is quite the lengthy game since there are plenty of quests to embark on, and a lot of creative ways to explore the games mechanics. Experimenting with every character class will definitely provide a more rewarding experience since you’ll be able to better determine the right stacks to better assist you in tough boss battles. Knowing how weapons work is also imperative since a lot do have certain buffs that are attached to them, such as being strong against countering bug attacks, or strong against beast types. It’s all about weapon management and knowing when to swap out so that you get the best results possible. One thing to note as well is that throughout the game, you’ll be able to use the cash gathered to exchange for more powerful buffs for weapons at the Trader, so we highly encourage taking advantage of it once you unlock it.
One gripe that we do have with the game though comes directly from its treasure system, where we feel that it’s too random at times. After completing quests and have the choice to pick between 3 chests, we wish that we were given the option to just choose what we wanted. Oftentimes we’d receive the same object and it led to us having an inventory filled with poor weapons, which really didn’t help at all. Ultimately, we had to travel to the Trader to rid of all of the useless items, which in a way helped us to buy things faster, but in the end it still turned us off a little bit.
Easy to use controls and flashy action make this one a must play.
Kick ass and take names!
Those who’ve dabbled with Disgaea will find the “Dango” stacking system to feel comforting.
You’ll spend hours just trying to create the right team, plus you can customize battle options or character voicing, among many other things.
The gameplay can feel repetitive since you’re really just grinding through dungeons filled with tougher monsters. This is compensated with the various customization features though.
We wish that the treasure system wasn’t so random at times, and that we could pick the weapons we want.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Although it’s not a perfect game, Lapis x Labyrinth is still an astonishingly fun title that never stops challenging you. Even when you think your team is well equipped to tackle what’s ahead, the game throws a curveball at you and now new strategies must be implemented. One surprising thing that stood out to us that we failed to mention earlier was that, in spite of all the flashy visuals and frantic action happening on screen, we rarely hit any framerate issues, which is obviously a huge plus. Even more reason to pick this up and play!
We hope you enjoyed our review, and remember that for all things gaming, be sure to keep it locked right here on Honey’s Anime.
Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!