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  • Writer's pictureAllan Jenks

Game Review #289: Lapis x Labyrinth (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Chad M.

Developer: Nippon Ichi Software

Publisher: NIS America

Category: Action, Platformer

Release Date: 5.28.2019

Price (at time of review): $29.99 (digital) | $59.99 (physical)

Buy Lapis x Labyrinth from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Lapis x Labyrinth Limited Edition XL from Amazon here.

NISAmerica + Las Vegas = Loot You Like

When it comes to the games that Nippon Ichi Software has put out on the Switch—which has been a lot—they’ve been all over the map, touching on all types of genres and taking major risks, from revisiting major JRPG titles to bringing to life a Japanese fairytale. This time, they’re bringing a real looter to life.

The first time they tackled a looter-type game was Penny Punching Princess, which was different than anything I’d played through NIS America. Now, their new game, Lapis x Labyrinth, breaks the mold again, as not only did I not see this one coming, but it’s nothing like they’ve developed before. They take dungeon-diving and loot-collecting to new depths. Now that I have my hands on Lapis x Labyrinth, let’s jump in and take a look.

The Golden Forest’s Story Is Bankrupt

So I’m gonna lay out the story, but let it be said: this is by far the weakest aspect of the game, and really could have been fleshed out a bit with a deeper storyline. So, we have a small quaint little town tucked away in the depths of the golden forest. There is a rumor that the golden forest is radiant and beautiful, and has a magical source to thank for this, the source being a golden tree at the bottom of a mysterious labyrinth.

Countless adventurers have come trying to obtain the vast amounts of riches, but all have fallen to things people only whisper about in the shadows. The town has been established as a base at the labyrinth’s entrance, but as the many adventures have perished, it had been long-abandoned and forgotten. Now we are here with our merry band of misfits to take a stab at all the loot within. That’s the long and short of our story throughout.

Stack Up Them Racks Whilst Killing Things

Lapis x Labyrinth is all about the looting, and in saying that, you might worry that a game like this could get a tad repetitive; and you’d be right, as you pretty much do the same thing over and over. Before finishing the game, you’ll take on 80 quests across 10 distinct level types, and travel through approximately 220 maps, so it is perhaps unsurprising that there is a fair amount of repeated content. Now that I’ve said that, it’s not necessarily a bad thing either, and depending on how it stacks up once you take into account all the things it’s trying to do, only then will you know if it’s right for you.

You choose two characters from the start, but can have a team of four at a time. You choose your team from eight very different characters that range from a heavy tank-like knight that wields an enormous sword—who is understandably slower, but deals out great amounts of damage—a dual-wielding gunner that looks to be ripped straight from anime’s like Trigun, or you can be the maid, who uses a skillet as her main weapon. The characters vary, and offer many different options, depending on the class you choose.

So, after you have your squad, you’ll go through a short tutorial that shows you basic controls and meters on the screen. Once done, you’ll head into town to talk to the townspeople and get a lay of the land. After you do this, you can begin to choose to take on quests from the bulletin board. From there, you then take them to the lift operator and he takes you to your quest.

Little Loot Rascals

Once you head out, your companions are stacked on top of you, showing only their heads like the old Little Rascals trench coat joke, acting as if they’re a single adult. The designers call it the ‘Dango’ system, after the Japanese sweet. As crazy as this sounds, this stack of adorable chibi warriors is a witty bit of design, as you can change the leader (with L), and how many jumps you have left is shown as well. So you enter these worlds where the scenery and platforms are mystical and fantasy-driven, but even with the environments all having this block maze at the core concept, it’s the same with the creatures that inhabit them. I still found that the gameplay was extremely addictive and fun, however, and it kept me coming back.

These areas, with monsters that range from big to small, ranged fighters to brawlers, and they have a tendency to just pop out of nowhere and attack. While killing your enemies, you’ll start to stack some coin, and really, this is where the fun begins. You have a meter that’s called “treasure combo” that will show the loot you accumulate, as long as you don’t get hit, which is hard to do; but when some enemies spawn out of nowhere on top of you, it begins to become a tall task to ask not to be touched. But don’t worry, you’ll still get tons of loot, this is just an added bonus to tack on to what you get to keep.

You have various attacks to use, and can even use special moves to call on your traveling companions—but these are limited—as well as a super move that brings in everyone from your party to attack all at once, eliminating pretty much everything on screen, which is useful, because the screen will, at times, become pure chaos! You can have enemies all around, and loot flying out for you to get, but then, if you slay enough creatures and collect enough loot, you’ll trigger the fever mode, which not only grants you momentary invincibility, but also turns the screen into a slot machine, hitting the jackpot while a Mardi Gras parade goes by with fireworks going off. I mean that as you not only still have the enemies attacking that you have to kill off, but also beautiful bright colored gems busting out of the screen.

Make It Rain, But Be Home By Curfew!

An endless downpour of coins, crafting materials, weapons, and gear is a central hook of exploration and combat in the game, and fever mode is another showing of the game’s overall addictiveness. Each floor in a quest has a five-minute time limit. It’s up to you to use this time to find and destroy the gems locking the floor’s exit, level up your party for the quest’s boss, and gather enough loot to feed into the many minor goals you’ll have related to the crafting, exchange, and dojo elements in the main hub.

Beware, if you don’t exit before the time runs out, an invincible specter will appear; and if it touches you, not only will you fail, but you’ll lose most your loot, so this has you playing a balancing act of how deep you want to go into these maze-like levels before you go so deep that you have trouble getting out in time. Even though it’s possible to evade him, I don’t recommend it.

There are RPG elements with The hub-town’s dojo, foundry, item exchange, and lunch shop, allowing players to invest in their character’s base stats, item enhancements, crafting, and other modifiers. While in a quest, you can switch characters, whether you are trying to use a different fighting style, weapon, or just trying to switch out your character with low health to one with a fresh life meter.

Audio & Visuals

The visuals range from jaw-dropping gorgeous when the gems burst out all over the screen, to downright cute when the adventurers are stacked atop one another. The level design can be a little repetitive, but everything else is top-notch, and the game never stuttered for a second, no matter how many gems or creatures were on screen. The soundtrack is solid, with great sound effects, especially once in battle and hearing the loot pile in. You can change a lot of this in the options, even the volume of the characters’ voices.

It’s A Wrap!!!

Overall, I went into Lapis x Labyrinth with low expectations, since this was a new genre for NIS America; but I was wanting it to be good, because the premise sounded fun. After the initial few hours of playing, I knew that I was going to like this, because not only was the gameplay not getting stale, the further I went in, I found it becoming quite addictive. So, if you love stacking money, fighting large groups of enemies, and seeing every color burst off the screen in glorious fashion, then get Lapis x Labyrinth today.

Score: 8/10

Buy Lapis x Labyrinth from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy Lapis x Labyrinth Limited Edition XL from Amazon here.

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*Review Code Provided by NIS America

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