Labyrinth Legend is an early entry into the 2022 competition for World’s Most Generic Game Title, and it revels in following that genericness down to the gameplay. But that’s not necessarily aÂ badÂ thing.
It’s an isometric 2D pixel art action-RPG dungeon crawler, a sentence more complicated than the actual moment to moment action is. Pick a character class from the three available (melee, ranged, wizard) and then set about clearing out floor after floor of slimes, goblins, bats, killer plants, and miscellaneous ghost unicorns(!) from randomly generated dungeons, gaining loot and XP to increase those all-important numbers.
Youâ€™ll be following the plot of an evil Queen who has taken over the land, poisoned everyoneâ€™s minds and trapped some poor innocent sods in a suspiciously well laid out village (it has a blacksmith, a mine,Â andÂ a shop! What are the odds?). Like most games of this type, the plot doesnâ€™t come up very often, because youâ€™re far too busy rapidly tapping the B button to vanquish another twenty-odd goblins.
Thereâ€™s a litany of different locations, which you could most likely list before I even write them (grassland, volcano, underwater, mines, ice level, desert level, etc) and youâ€™ll unlock harder versions as you go, churning through the basic but satisfying loop of watching little numbers go up to tell you how strong you are. Thereâ€™s loot everywhere, and your attack capabilities depend entirely on what you equip to one of the four face buttons.
Experimentation and the variety of mixing and matching weaponry are deceptively complex, and in my twenty or so hours playing as the Mage character (as I always do), I found a lot of pleasing combinations that gave me the all-important power fantasy of raining down fiery death on a huge number of unsuspecting mobs.
Each dungeon ends with a boss fight, and these are high notes. The bosses have multiple attack patterns and phases which increase in difficulty as their health drops. Whatâ€™s also pleasing is that if you die during a boss, you can restart without having to go through the whole dungeon again, with your â€“Â and you knew this was comingÂ – health-restoring flask refilled entirely.
Then itâ€™s back to the village to check whether that staff you picked up has a higher number than the functionally identical staff you were using, and off you go again.
It isnâ€™t entirely without innovation, though. Thereâ€™s a separate â€˜monster islandâ€™ section where you can meet and raise enemy monsters to accompany you, providing benefits like raising your attack or the amount of gold you find per floor, which is a neat little modification on the basic loop of Make Number Go Up. You can also bring a friend along in local co-op, where the experience is exactly the same, but with more people.
While this review may seem negative, things arenâ€™t as bad as they may sound. Yes, Labyrinth Legend is as generic a videogame as youâ€™re likely to find on the Switch but it goes down like a meal at a fast-food restaurant. Youâ€™re not here for the finest experience of your life for a premium price, youâ€™re here for something filling, tasty and affordable for a while that you can spend some time on, clear to your own satisfaction, and then move on with your day.
Itâ€™s a competent, pleasingly wrapped package of stat management with a few rough edges (the UI is something straight out of the â€˜My First Mobile Gameâ€™ playbook) that wonâ€™t give you anything you havenâ€™t seen before but might give you more of that thing you like. Sometimes, thatâ€™s enough, and I managed to get to the end of the â€˜mainâ€™ game, unlocking an entirely separate roguelike game mode afterwards, before my brain kicked in and I realised I was effectively playing a spreadsheet. But in aÂ goodÂ way.
Labyrinth Legend is out 18th January on Switch. It first launched on PC in 2020.