Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a role-playing game with great cave exploration gameplay in the style of sumi-e graphics. After the success of the Etrian Odyssey series of games with the same gameplay, this game series has blossomed in recent years. Therefore, developers have to think of many new ideas to create a unique feature of their brainchild. If Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society builds a completely different party system, Labyrinth of Zangetsu creates its own style with sumi-e graphics.
The game takes place as the world plunges into a cataclysm called the “Ink of Desolation” and corruption from people and creatures to the entire Earth. This ink breeds ink monsters that always want to destroy humanity. Those fortunate enough not to be corrupted joined the ink warriors, fighting them to save humanity. Your goal is to enter the labyrinths created by the aforementioned cataclysm, using the Force to drive back the Ink Race from the world as they threaten the fate of Edo, humanity’s last bastion.
In fact, Labyrinth of Zangetsu has a rather simple plot, but the use of words in the game brings a lot of wonderful feeling. This can be annoying for many hardcore gamers, plus the challenge level is a bit high compared to other games on the market. However, the game has a gameplay design with many annoying limitations, more similar to the classic Wizardry series rather than role-playing games like Void Terrarium 2, and even older like Demon Gaze Extra.
Most notably, players can create their own ink warriors to fight for the party or use the party created by the game. You can make a group of six characters, divided into two front (front) and back (back) shots in battle formation, three characters each. As is the usual design standard, the “front” position is for characters that are “buffalo-blooded” and deal heavy damage to enemies, while the “back” position is for characters with low health and attack ability. Term. However, the biggest problem with Zangetsu’s Labyrinth is its great challenge.
This is shown from the beginning of the experience when an enemy remains idle after being attacked by the player’s entire team. In fact, the difficulty of Labyrinth of Zangetsu is quite inconsistent when it can go up suddenly, while the game’s penalty level is quite high. Specifically, the player only has a short time to save the character who runs out of HP before the character dies. Letting a character die is no small burden either when you have to go back to Ido and pay an NPC in hopes of being able to revive the character or… not.
Even if you have a lot of lotus money, which never happens in the Labyrinth of Zangetsu experience, the game’s character respawn mechanism is enough to make players cry over the appearance of randomness. Specifically, if an NPC suddenly cannot revive the character, you have to pay twice as much to try again. However, if the second attempt also fails, the character immediately becomes a goodbye song and there are no other chances. You have to accept that the yin and yang are separate and feeling discouraged is no small thing.
However, the magical Labyrinth of Zangetsu also has the same limitations as the classic Final Fantasy games of the past, and is not as comfortable to use as today’s designs. Randomness was also deliberately designed by the development team to “haunt” players in almost all gameplay mechanics. For example, when clashing with red smoke colored experienced enemies, you can get more or less lotus money or none at all. It’s unfortunate that you get experience points to level up characters or more often treasure chests.
The reason for calling for luck when receiving experience points is that it is a difficult and random journey to level up the character. Basically, you can only level up a character when you meet two conditions: collect enough experience points and return to Ido. Not to mention that “leveling up” sometimes causes a character’s stats to decrease instead of increasing. Treasure chests that require you to open them one by one are equally inhibited by “physical effects” of certain playable characters or by having the thief “handle” them.
This is because each character class has specific skills and the Labyrinth of Zangetsu requires you to use those skills in specific situations, if you don’t want to make trouble for the party. In the case of treasure chests, you can use a character who prefers “physical effects” to open the chest, but the probability of success is very low because almost every chest has traps that only the thief character can disable. However, even a thief isn’t sure there is a “door” to success because there is always a failure rate that causes the character to be logged out.
And when the character is “signed out”, the player must return to the Exile’s resurrection journey above. Even more cruel is that when the lucky thief successfully breaks the lock and disables the trap, the item in it must be evaluated before it can be used. The evaluation journey continues back to the random mechanism when each character has an evaluation success or failure rate. The element of luck in this case can easily trigger a player’s “rage ending mode” at any time when the losing piece accidentally falls into your playthrough.
On the other hand, don’t expect much from the character development side either because Labyrinth of Zangetsu doesn’t have that fancy feature. Also, the game has a bilingual interface which looks a bit confusing. The characters are also not voiced. The background music is simple. These aspects don’t resonate with the feel of the experience as well as the atmosphere of the game, somewhat diminishing the writer’s excitement even when ignoring the aforementioned chain of random factor inhibition. It is worth noting that the old design makes the strategy in the game not high.
It is a pity that these aspects were not taken care of by the developer in proportion to the unique graphics of the game. This seems to be developer Acquire’s style of game making from the past to the present. Prior to this, Kamiwaza: Way of the Thief, with its classic stealth-action-adventure gameplay, had some of the same problems, focusing primarily on something rather than building a coherent and balanced game experience from all sides. Zangetsu’s Labyrinth is no exception with its unique graphics and challenging gameplay.
After all, Labyrinth of Zangetsu offers an exhilaratingly creepy experience, but not for fans. The biggest point of the game is its distinctive graphic style, but the heavy gameplay makes it only suitable for hardcore gamers of the genre.
Labyrinth of Zangetsu is available for PC (Windows), PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.
ACQUIRE Corp., KaeruPanda Inc.
The article uses games supported by the publisher.
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