Miniview: Deep Labyrinth

I love…
…the story. Well, the one I’m playing right now; the game has two stories, or chapters, and I’m not sure whether and how they connect. I started with the first as, well, they might connect, and the difficulty is supposed to be lower. I’m not used to real-time games, and I figure I should learn to play before I start running. This one’s supposed to be the ‘lighter’ story, but thus far it’s turning out to be darker than what I’d expect from that.

I like…
…the magic system. Like Lost Magic, Deep Labyrinth has you drawing characters with the stylus for spells, and though most work separately, you can combine some characters to make more spells; I just love this kind of magic system, even if it rarely comes close to what Words of Power did. Enemies are usually colour-coded to show element or elemental weakness, and provided you can recall what the glyph is for the spell you want, magic is a pretty good way of dealing with things, as long as you have MP.
…the graphics. It’s 3D like Eternal Ring is – I should play that once I’m done with this – but it doesn’t try to do much more than the system can do. It’s all passable-to-good; environments are good and there’s a decent amount of variety in the decorations, whilst NPC models – mice in particular – are somewhat samey. Enemy models are fairly good, and outside of the dungeon you encounter them in, don’t repeat – they are reused to show off enemy elements or weaknesses, I guess, but it isn’t overdone, and with only one exception every model in the second dungeon is different from those in the first. Boss models look nice, too.
…the music. Sound effects are probably going to get repetitive, eventually, but haven’t yet, and the music is pretty nice, and doesn’t sound too synthetic.

I loathe…
…sword combat. Well, I don’t loathe it, but I’ve got three sections here, two of which are positive and one negative. Different stylus gestures mean different sword strikes – across the diagonals, or straight down, or horizontal. Enemies have weakspots, and the game suggests that some of them are weak to certain strikes, but it’s really difficult to tell whether you got a good hit in, or whether you got a lucky critical. Some enemies are invulnerable to the sword except in certain bits of their animation, and some can’t easily be hit by certain strokes, and that’s pretty nice, but I don’t know about weakness to specific strokes otherwise…
…boss stun animations. Thus far, every boss has been a matter of running straight up to it and hitting it until it dies. That’s all you have to do to avoid being hurt – no boss thus far has had an attack that works faster than my attack, and being stunned from getting hit interrupt their attempt at attacking me. Most also don’t move, and don’t seem to have ranged attacks, so there’s little to save them. One gave me hope, then they threw me against a dragon which stayed where it sat. I hope future bosses are more tough.
…movement. Everything but this is controlled by the stylus, and everything else controls fairly well. Movement, however, is via the d-pad, and is pretty insensitive – aiming for magic is a chore, as you can’t target-lock things unless you’re within melee range. It’d be worse if they also tried to control this via stylus, but as-is, my hand aches and I haven’t been playing for too long.
…swordsmen who throw their swords and then instantly have another reappear in their hands. That move is powerful, they do it when you’re out of melee range, and dodging it in a corridor is difficult. I wish it had a cooldown.

Verdict
Worth getting, as it’s pretty cheap for how good it is. Nothing much brings it above less-obscure games, though, aside from that. It also boasts of being the ‘First ever 3D first person RPG for NDS’ on Amazon… and is, I guess, as it came out before Orcs & Elves, which it surpasses. The plot’s more interesting and it’s more challenging.