If you’re looking for a quick dungeon crawling fix, then Creat Studios’ Labyrinth Legends might just be the game for you. This hack-and-slash is light on narrative and heavy on the fun, rekindling the feeling of playing Hack or Rogue (for us older gamers). And for the new crowd? Well, it gives a modern take on old favourites, introducing simplicity to a generation weaned on cut-scenes. There is a time and place for the dungeon crawl, and when Labyrinth Legends is on your PS3 (downloaded from the PSN), that time and place is pretty much anytime that you want – on your couch.
When I refer to simplicity, I’m not kidding. I don’t think that there are more than two minutes of any real kind of story. Your reason for exacting unholy revenge on the underworld is that your wife was kidnapped by an evil mage. From this point, you carve your way through 16 levels of puzzles and hazards to get her back. Each level is slightly more difficult than the last, adding to the challenge and fun and constantly bringing you back for “just one more” kick at the can.
There is a two-fold goal for each dungeon. The first is to find the exit – which is obvious. Your second task is to find the stars in each level (some obvious, some hidden), which allow you to unlock subsequent levels. The stars make the game insidiously fun – hunting for these will take up most of your time as you throw yourself against entertaining puzzles and check every nook and cranny for secret passages.
Preparation H will not stop this ring of fire.
Standing in your way are all kinds of enemies of varying strength and power. While mashing attack buttons allows you fairly easy passage through the first few levels, you learn very quickly that taking your time and employing strategy make your journey a little less harmful. Since there are not a lot of options in terms of combat moves, it’s fairly easy to wrap your head around how to create some quick, workable strategies for dealing with various bad guys. Staying alive is definitely desirable, especially considering that when you kick the bucket, you lose all of your hard-earned stars.
The difficulty curve is steep enough to be challenging, but not so crazy as to have you trying to kill yourself with your controller. What is nice is that death, while a sad event, is not as inconvenient as other, more complicated games. Levels are small enough to retry -and complete- in relatively short order. This is what makes Labyrinth Legends so addictive: the accessibility. The game can be played in bite-sized morsels; but, like any good dish, you might not be able to stop eating when you think you should – leading to some late nights.
Visuals are gorgeous: bright, vibrant and elegantly animated, the action is smooth and wonderful to watch. What is amazing about the graphics are that even with such vivid imagery, finding hidden places can still be quite a tricky prospect. This might have something to with a general lack of detail. Don’t get me wrong: the characters are wonderful and the backgrounds are great; the only issue that you might have with the game is that it’s not really pushing any envelopes in terms of outstanding artwork. Audio is also fairly cartoony, with the odd moan here and there as well as a decent score. Labyrinth Legends is definitely not going to scare the pants off you a la Resident Evil; but it’s so much fun that it doesn’t matter.
Worst train ride ever.
Labyrinth Legends scratches a very specific itch: a condition formed by the need to just throw away any pretense of a story and just get hackin’. Level sizes are manageable, allowing you to play a few in a short gaming session – or burn through them all in a marathon blitz. Cute graphics and audio make this game easy on the eyes and ears, and a simple, yet effective, combat system allows you to be as complicated as you want to be. Local multi-player for up to four is available – but I enjoyed the single-player experience a lot more. Finally, for just under ten bucks, you couldn’t ask for better value.