Colors, colors everywhere.
If an abundance of color and collecting loot are two of your favorite things, then Lapis x Labyrinth will be right up your alley. This over-the-top action RPG features the two in spades as you take on quests and eliminate hordes of enemies, diving deeper into the labyrinth. Gameplay does get repetitive and quests are almost always identical, but there is something surprisingly satisfying seeing the screen explode with a rainbow of different colored gems and treasures.
Lapis x Labyrinth has a fairly straightforward gameplay loop: accept a quest from the Guild, go into the labyrinth, collect a certain number of purple diamonds on each floor, head to the transporter, rinse and repeat. Each quest has a varying total of floors to clear, and when you get to the final one you’ll have to defeat a boss to complete the quest. Of course, there are a ton of enemies along the way, including certain areas that become sealed off until you dispose of each threat in that area. Killing enemies showers the screen with coins and gems, but when you enter a Fever, an event triggered on occasion, that’s when those showers turn into monsoons, covering the screen with heaps of treasures. Quest Levels feature eight quests and upon completion unlock the subsequent level which takes you to the next area filled with more difficult monsters to vanquish.
Since quests have you doing basically the same thing each time, what breaks up the monotony is the diverse cast of characters to choose from. With eight different classes in total, finding a nice mix of playstyles is fun especially since each plays considerably different from the others. For example, the Destroyer is a slow moving class that wields a greatsword, but unleashes a huge amount of damage, while the Maid is quick and hits her opponents with a volley of attacks using her pan. A party consists of four characters: a lead member and three others who are there for support. Oddly enough, support characters actually stack on top of the lead member and are represented by only their heads. So as you travel around, there is one body and four heads stacked up on each other. While the lead member will be the one dishing out the damage, you can call in the next member to unleash an attack and then shuffle to the top of the stack. Of course this isn’t an unlimited option, but knowing when to utilize the function can help deliver that necessary extra damage. Another option is when your EX bar is full, you can use an ability that will have all party members work in unison to deliver a devastating attack that more often than not obliterates everything in your path. The beauty of having four members is being able to switch out on the fly, whether it be because one is low on health or because you simply want to change up your set of attacks.
Another driving force to push you further into the labyrinth is acquiring new loot to outfit your party members with. This comes in the form of weapons, armor, artifacts, and consumables like snacks to give allies between levels. Not only do weapons and armor have base stats, but also have slots which depending on the item can give buffs or debuffs. Not all items include these slots and some will include both buffs and debuffs, so you have to decide if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. It’s important to note that each item has a required equip cost and you only have a certain number to play with, so you won’t always be able to use all the best items. You do earn a ton of loot in your travels, so it can become a bit overwhelming searching through the huge lists, especially when it comes to the artifacts which aren’t as easily separated with base stats. This problem is exacerbated when a large portion of the loot tends to be worse than what you already have, adding a lot of clutter to your inventory.
As you complete Quest Levels, new areas in town become available, which greatly help with customizing both your party members and their loot. Buildings such as the Dojo let you increase your characters’ base stats, resistances, and attack power vs certain enemy types, helping to keep pace with the progressively more difficult enemies. I would have preferred if this unlocked a bit earlier in the game, but it definitely was a welcome addition. The Foundry is where you can enhance and dismantle loot. Dismantling items gives you raw materials which can be used to enhance other items. The Exchange is another place to get materials as well as upgrade the number of equip points you have. It was always exciting to see what would open up after completing quests and how these locations would go on to aid with future areas of the game.
Lapis x Labyrinth has a very anime and Japanese feel to both its look and audio approach. Characters have a chibi style to them which works well especially when the characters are in a stack. With each attack comes a grunt, and since you’ll be unleashing attacks quite often, you can expect a lot of vocalizing. It can be a bit overwhelming and even a little grating, but it never personally bothered me. Fortunately for those who are more turned off by it, you can toggle down the voice volume in the settings. Something I really appreciated was how load times were practically nonexistent, dropping you right into the action almost immediately after starting a mission.
Loot-driven action RPGs can find themselves in a pattern of being repetitive, relying on the desire for the next shiny piece of armor to keep players engaged. Lapis x Labyrinth certainly falls into that category, but unfortunately despite the huge number of items you earn, many tend to be downgrades. However, the diversity in each character type works to its advantage, promoting mixing and matching party members to help reduce the feeling of grinding in this outrageously stylistic 2D Action RPG.