Lapis x Labyrinth (Switch) Review

Literal Treasure Explosion

Playing Lapis x Labyrinth is the equivalent of entering a glitzy casino and witnessing every slot machine simultaneously explode with coins. There’s a dazzling aura to this 2D hack-and-slash action RPG, and cute, hyperactive visuals feed into its eye-catching wackiness.

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

True to the game’s name, you play as a customizable adventurer who enters mazelike dungeons with the goal of amassing treasure. We’re not talking chump change; there are gleaming gems around every corner. Defeating a single enemy unleashes an array of colorful currency. Multiply that by dozens of foes in every screen, and the display bursts with a heaping helping of riches that would make Wario blush. The vivid, manic slot machine graphics are mesmerizing.

Lapis x Labyrinth Fever Time.jpg
This is only a taste of how insane the game’s crystal explosions look.

The gameplay itself is quite simple, albeit bizarre. First of all, a stack of heads representing your teammates sits atop your character at all times. There’s no in-game explanation why your team chooses to fight in disembodied head towers, but it’s insanely adorable and further brandishes its wacky anime style. It leads to cute effects like being able to double jump by dropping one of your partners or activating special abilities that incorporate everyone’s unique powers at once. It also allows players to switch between four playable adventurers. There are eight character classes that range from melee attackers to mages to ranged gun wielders. They all have the same basic button combos, similarly to Super Smash Bros., but I appreciated the variety of four fighting styles at my fingertips.

Lapis x Labyrinth Nintendo Switch Review.jpg
Totem pole à la Triforce Heroes.

Regardless of your class, combat amounts to copious button mashing. Although each successive quest brings forth stronger monsters, most of them are pushovers, provided you have a properly geared party. The bigger threat is the five minute time limit in which you must locate and destroy enough energy crystals to open the exit gate. Fail to do so in time and a horrid reaper chases you, insta-killing you upon contact. Most of my game overs came from this annoying threat. Upon breaking enough crystals, an arrow guides the way towards the exit. However, due to the convoluted maze design, filled with bewildering warps, the path to the exit is often confusing. Consequently, I felt discouraged to search hard for treasure, despite that being the point of the game.

Lapis x Labyrinth Review
One of the more reserved screens you’ll ever see in the game.

Lapis x Labyrinth is designed around performing large combo chains to keep the money train coming. Fight, rack up points, and expand your earnings as long as you avoid getting hit. A fever gauge builds up and when filled, transforms the game into a blinding rush. If you were somehow underwhelmed by the garish spectacle, fever mode will inject your eyes with adrenaline. Everything drops mountains of gems, and the scenery detonates with bright lights and colors. Slots randomly award you bonuses, and the screen shakes, presumably since it can’t handle anything that’s happening. Seriously, though, the frame rate tends to dip quite a bit during this mode, which is disappointing for what should be a smooth, fast-paced experience. It’s an overwhelming blur, and I occasionally got distracted or lost with the overstimulating flying and flashing.

Lapis x Labyrinth Treasure.jpg
What is even happening here?!

That is the true essence of Lapis x Labyrinth, though – a dungeon crawler that makes you feel good with its easy-to-learn button combos and the atmosphere of being in an eternal bonus level. Sometimes it’s nice to shut off my brain entirely while entering an exhilarated state. However, that only took me so far due to the stagnant gameplay. After the first of ten worlds, I had pretty much seen everything.

Each world has eight quests in which you enter a labyrinth of one to five floors. However, every map has the same generic level design, essentially a series of connected rooms, breakable blocks, and walls. They all look and feel similar, aside from a few different backgrounds and gimmick platforms. Meanwhile, you’re probably mashing buttons and still somehow winning. The grind follows the same pattern throughout its 20 hour campaign, quickly becoming monotonous. Bosses break the mold, but only the end-of-world ones are actually interesting or challenging. All other bosses are just slightly rougher adversaries. The lackluster story doesn’t help. You learn more about the abyss underneath the town over time, but without true voice acting or character personalities, it ends up feeling shallow.

Lapis x Labyrinth Gameplay.jpg
The characters are stacked like dango, a Japanese dessert. Mmm…

The progression system, while not stellar, was enough of a hook to keep me invested. Beyond obtaining a bunch of loot and materials in each level, you also unlock randomized chests holding equipment depending on how well you played. You only have control over which of three chests you open at a time, but it’s rewarding to get that lucky weapon, armor, or artifact, each with their own attributes like boosted attack against certain monsters. Everything you equip feeds into a combined team HP and attack stat, making the group feel more like a singular unit, and a maximum gear cost tasks players to grind for the most efficient equipment. I appreciated that as you play, the town flourishes, gradually introducing new services like a blacksmith that embeds equipment with passives, a dojo that raises character stats, and a restaurant that cooks up restorative foods.

That said, I wish there were more to diversify gameplay – for instance, upgraded movesets for characters, skill trees, more classes – anything to give the impression that my characters were evolving as opposed to simply improving. As a beat-‘em-up, multiplayer could have helped quell the tedium. For those who get into the game, a ridiculously high-leveled postgame awaits, although it’s more of the same.

Lapis x Labyrinth Characters
Meet my main team: Sakura, Ruby, Syaoran, and Tomoyo, from a certain anime!

Conclusion

Lapis x Labyrinth isn’t for everyone, but there is an audience, particularly players who like stimulating games that are easy to pick up and play. The overall experience is style over substance, with flashy lights at the forefront and a straightforward hack-and-slash RPG as the catalyst. If you’ve ever had the urge to know what it’s like to live inside a pinball machine, I assume this is the closest interpretation.

Score: 6/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article.

What do you think of Lapis x Labyrinth? What are your favorite action RPGs or hack-and-slash games? Please share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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6 thoughts on “Lapis x Labyrinth (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! Wow, Lapis x Labyrinth is quite the flashing, seizure-inducing spectacle. All the colors and lights are still flashing in my eyes. Send help. I can barely tell what’s happening on the screen under all the exploding treasure. The stacked head towers are oddly cute, though, and I think it’s hilarious that they drop each other when they jump. Are they all Yoshis? I usually like games that I can pick up and get into, but Lapis x Labyrinth (is that said like Hunter x Hunter? btw, I caught the Card Captor Sakura names hehe) sounds like it would be a more superficial and repetitive experience for me. And the visuals are a little too over-the-top for my taste. But I loved your review! Lights! Camera! Gems!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I truly appreciate your kind words and awesome support! Yeah, I think the same way every time I see Lapis x Labyrinth in action. Even a single screenshot with all the Rupees flying around makes me dizzy. It wasn’t a horrible game, and I found it relaxing to just pick up and play each dungeon in the abyss, but it sure felt like I was just going through the motions for like 75% of the game. The stacked heads are cute, at least, and they’re supposed to represent the Japanese dessert dango, but all I can think of are the totem pole Links from Zelda: Triforce Heroes haha. Also, yes, it’s pronounced Lapis Labyrinth with a silent X, just like HxH (and I’m glad you caught the quick CCS references RELEASE!) And yes, they ARE Yoshis. 😛 I wish we could have enjoyed this with multiplayer, as I’m sure that would have been fun. Thanks again! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the name of this game! The fast pace of it reminds of vintage Sonic too! I don’t think I’d always be able to follow what’s going on, but it doesn’t like that matters much. And if there was ever a time Wario could guest star in a game… It’s a shame the level design is repetitive, but this looks like it would be a lot of fun if you want to FEEL like you’re getting things done.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lapis x Labyrinth is a great name! I like it more than its Japanese title, Lapis x Re Abyss. It’s definitely a fast game, but could you imagine a Sonic treasure hunting game? Oh wait, I guess the Knuckles levels in 3D Sonic Adventure count, huh. The dungeon crawling gameplay is repetitive, primarily because I thought the gameplay rarely evolved much, but there is that steady sense of progress. It’s akin to a mobile game where you do the same thing over and over but as long as you get awarded with shiny prizes, it’s all good. I wish Wario were in this game! He’d show them how to hunt treasure, probably while farting since that’s what we know him for now… Could be even better than Wario Blast featuring Bomberman!

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    1. Yeah, I definitely see what you mean. I think with a good story, Lapis x Labyrinth could have provided some meaty segments in-between all the dungeon crawling. I really didn’t care for all the “oooh there’s history in these ruins” but hardly expanded at all. It didn’t help that the town felt lifeless, since it was consisted entirely of your party, shopkeepers, and one-note NPCs. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Like

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