Review: Labyrinth Legends
Creat Studios is by this point a veteran PlayStation Network developer. Labyrinth Legends is their 21st PSN title, which is more than any other developer I can think of. The quality of their games has fluctuated, in my opinion, but on average their games are fairly fun to play (Hamster Ball is still one of my favorite PSN games). On this outing, Creat has released a great puzzle game partially disguised as a dungeon crawler.
At the beginning of the game you’re treated to a cinematic that shows your princess being stolen by what looks like an evil mage. You’re then transported to an overworld map with different levels scattered about it. The first level gets you acquainted with the gameplay and controls. It looks like a dungeon crawler with the camera set at a three-quarters isometric angle, but don’t be fooled – Labyrinth Legends is above all a puzzle game. The bulk of the gameplay focuses on pushing blocks, flipping switches, dropping gates, and more, all in order to reach the level’s exit. Most of the screen is shrouded in darkness at first, but walking around will uncover the labyrinthine floor plans of each level. The square button attacks enemies and can be pressed rapidly to perform a combo. The triangle button executes a spin attack reminiscent of that dude in that other game with the word Legend in it. R1 dashes, and L1 blocks attacks. The first level also introduces you to one of the game’s most intriguing attributes – collecting stars.
There are five stars to be collected in each of the 16 levels. More levels become available as you collect more stars. Stars can be earned in a variety of different ways. Most of the time you’re awarded stars for finding hidden rooms or dispatching enemies in a creative way. For instance, there may be a room in a level that has zombies locked behind gates. Pressing a switch in that room will drop the gates, allowing you to beat on the zombies and collect whatever treasure they were guarding. If you do some exploring and exhibit a bit of patience, though, you may find another switch later on that torches all of the zombies at the same time. Your cleverness is awarded with a star! Keep it up! I really enjoyed playing through levels multiple times in order to unlock as many stars as possible. A convenient touch is that the stars you’ve collected remain collected, so you don’t have to collect all five stars in one level run. In addition to the stars in each level, there are three bonuses – Kill Bonus, Money Bonus, and Time Bonus – that add to your score. Killing all of the enemies in a given level will nab you the Kill Bonus, collecting all of the treasure in a level will grant you the Money Bonus, and the Time Bonus can be achieved by beating a level in a swift manner. The game doesn’t give you a specific time limit, but I’ve gotten the Time Bonus in a few levels without rushing too much.
There are two different worlds to explore in Labyrinth Legends. The first contains eight ghoulish, swampy graveyard levels while the second half of the game takes place in ancient Egyptian environments. There are boss battles scattered throughout the game, and each time you down a boss the princess moves to another castle. Both worlds offer a decent variety of enemies, but what really impressed me is how the puzzles evolved and remained fresh. There are a ton of different puzzle types that include box pushing, floor switch pushing, laser redirecting, avoiding saws, and more. There was even a word puzzle in one of the levels wherein you have to spell “DEAD” by moving letter boxes onto floor switches. What also kept me invested is that the game introduces a second playable character once you get into the Egyptian levels.
You escort a mage during one of the graveyard levels, but there are a few levels later on in which you actually control him. His abilities are different from the knight’s, which opens up even more variety in the puzzles. The mage can shoot magic from his wand, drop ice blocks, encase enemies in ice, and switch places with enemies by blocking their attacks. He’s somewhat limited when it comes to combat, but you have enough skills at your disposal that, if used wisely, can get you out of most any action-packed situation. The game includes a few multiplayer modes, but they’re in large part a bit dull.
All of the multiplayer modes support up to four simultaneous players. Domination is a King of the Hill game type. For 3:20, players attempt to hold onto a present. Whoever’s holding the present accumulates points, and dying drops the present. Treasure Hunt lasts 1:00 and has players scrambling for treasure that drops in random spots on the map. Survival mode is the closest the game gets to being cooperative. Everyone’s trying to stay alive while waves of baddies spawn every half minute or so. I played with one other person and didn’t have much fun, but I think Survival and Domination would ramp up with more players. What I really wanted was a multiplayer cooperative mode. Here’s hoping for one in Labyrinth Legends 2!
A score-chasing bonus level will unlock in each world when all 40 stars are collected. The first bonus level consists of bouncing saws while collecting randomly dropped treasure piles. The second bonus level is Pac-Man with Labyrinth Legends’s graphical overlay. This isn’t the only homage in the game. There’s a sequence with a green pipe and red mushroom as well as a “Finish Him” reference, to name a few. Both bonus levels are a good bit of fun, and the game supports leaderboards for both of them in addition to the main campaign. Technically, the game is sound except for a couple of things. It randomly quit to the XMB once and the level score screen once hung, requiring me to quit out and reboot the game. In both cases my save data was unaffected.
Labyrinth Legends is probably Creat Studios’s best game. Its graphical style led me to believe that it was a depth-less dungeon crawler, but what I found was basically the exact opposite. I highly recommend it for anyone who likes a good box-pushing puzzle or some cleverly hidden secret rooms.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Wide variety of puzzle types
- Clever level design
- Star collecting is addictive
What I Dislike:
- Kiddie graphical style
- Multiplayer is a bit stale