Review: Labyrinth Legends

LabyrinthLegends

Every once in a while a game comes along that I can’t quite figure out. Sometimes there is just something about a game that gets under my skin in a frustrating way, yet compels me to keep coming back. It calls to mind the phrase, the game I hate to love, yet love to hate. Labyrinth Legends from Creat Studios fits that to a tee for me.

You play as a knight in a top-down dungeon crawl puzzler that serves as sort of a kindred spirit to games of the NES/SNES era. Each labyrinth consists of several goals, the first of course being to reach the exit. Along the way there are also gold stars to collect. These gold stars are the currency used to unlock additional levels. Each labyrinth typically has one or two gold stars that are fairly easy to collect, while some others seem nearly impossible to obtain. Fortunately the game’s boss level isn’t overly difficult to unlock as only 22 of 40 potential stars are needed. Collecting all 40 stars however allows access to a bonus level.

Any proper knight carries a sword and shield while venturing through a labyrinth to battle and defend against creatures of the undead, but the heroic adventurer of this dungeon dive starts off with a baseball bat and later discovers new gear and armor as more labyrinths are explored. The armor offers a defensive layer before health points are lost when baddies connect with an attack. Playing through levels to earn armor pieces rewards replaying earlier levels where some stars are a little more difficult to collect without the extra defense.

In addition to collecting the stars, there are kill, money, and time bonuses that can be earned, furthering the option to replay later on. On top of that, the game offers an arena mode for up to four local players to participate in. The arena levels have three different modes: Domination (a free for all deathmatch rule set), Treasure Hunt (a treasure randomly spawns and each player must collect it before the others), and Survival (a horde mode of sorts).

Even though Labyrinth Legends is on PS3, the layout of the game suits my iOS time-waster gaming itch. The quick levels, collectible stars, ever increasing challenge, and the bright, cute art style give Labyrinth Legends plenty of wonderful qualities to constitute a great game. But there is one thing that gives me pause for concern: The controls just don’t feel right. It’s not a matter of the controls being unresponsive, but rather how floaty they are at times when you least want them to be.

Labyrinth Legends relies on different colored keys and doorways as one form of puzzle navigation through maze corridors. Other puzzles include pushing or pulling blocks to rest on a floor plate trigger, while some require timing and dexterity with a charge/slide move to avoid large boulders, saw blades or circulating flames. These dexterity puzzles are where my frustrations set in.

The d-pad or analog stick can be used to move the hero, but using either leads to movements that go beyond what you intend or expect. If I hold down the left d-pad to move left, the hero starts to move but then accelerates and moves farther than where I want him to go. In early stages this accelerated movement isn’t a bad thing as there are walls that pad the hero from going too far in one direction or another. Later levels however consist of sections that are mostly made up of narrow pathways with drop-offs on either side. Move too fast on one of these and the hero plummets into the darkness below. Some puzzle areas require quick movements to avoid traps, but the lack of feedback when trying to slow down or move fast causes a slight disconnect between what you are doing with the controller and what you are seeing on screen.

This slight over extension also applies to attacks. The square and triangle buttons provide light and special attacks, but pressing them in quick succession performs a combo attack of sorts. Unfortunately doing so also provides forward momentum which can inadvertently cause the hero to fall off an edge or into a trap.

Labyrinth Legends is a fun game. But it is also frustrating. The levels are quick to run through, yet getting a perfect run where all stars have been collected and a speedy time bonus has been earned is not a goal players will be able to accomplish in one session. If you can manage the floaty controls, there is a lot to love about this game.

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Pros:
+ Quick levels provide immediate gratification
+ Bonuses and star collectibles offer plenty of replay
+ Fun four player local arena modes

Cons:
– Floaty character movement
– Combat feedback doesn’t feel quite right

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN
Publisher: Creat Studios
Developer: Creat Studios
Release Date: 12/19/2012
Genre: Dungeon Crawler
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1-4 (local multiplayer only)
Source: Review code provided by publisher

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About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.