Leave it lost

MeiQ01

High Customizable robot guardians!

Low Empty labyrinths and low difficulty.

WTF How do the girls manage to fight in these costumes?


 

I’m always a little daunted by Japanese dungeon crawlers. They tend to have such a large scope, but in order for me to stay focused over the long haul, a title needs to pack a great cast of characters and a solid story on top of the gameplay. While MeiQ: Labyrinth Of Death features the foundations of an interesting tale, I found it lacking in many aspects.

The story is no great shakes. The planet has stopped rotating and the only way to restart its movement is for a Machina mage to turn a key. Of course the player’s character is one, but there are four other female mages recruited from across the world. They end up working together, but it won’t be a simple task since there are plenty of of monster-filled towers standing between them and the key.

Thankfully, each mage is a fully fleshed-out character, rather than a one dimensional sketch wearing skimpy outfits. However, they are stereotypical — a leader, a ditz, a bitch, and so on, but they all offer something to the group dynamic. Their conversations are genuinely engaging and always hint to more going on than first seems. Each Machina mage is paired with a robotic guardian, but the story misses a beat here since there’s no interaction with them. The mecha characters are lifeless and dull as a result.

They might be terrible conversationalists, but when it comes to fighting, the guardians are a great concept. The battles are standard turn-based affairs where a Machina mage fights with their guardian. In the middle of a battle, the guardian will step in to defend the mage while the mage can attack, cast magical spells or use items. It gets tactical when the guardian itself is selected to fight, however — when it’s in the lead, the mage cannot attack or provide support. Due to this dual system, some fights require clever switching between characters to achieve a win.

Adding depth, the guardians have a set of moves defined by how the player equips them. There’s an extensive element system that dictates strengths and weaknesses during battle, and the player can modify guardians piecemeal. There are different torsos, arms and crystals that can be swapped in and out, and each combination of parts opens up moves and tweaks base stats. These can be further complemented by changing power stones and outfits on the mage.

The combat system in MeiQ is deep, which is needed in a dungeon crawler to keep things fresh. Sadly, the rest of the game supporting these systems is incredibly boring.

The actual dungeon crawling is done in first person which is fine, but there’s nothing interesting to look at. The environments are plain and lifeless, filled with insipid colors and static fixtures. Honestly, it looks little better than a castoff budget title.

Another issue is that fights are few and far between. While this is partially a positive because it cuts out grinding, it also leaves lots of time to wander around with little to do. Even worse, when enemies do turn up for a fight, they’re all easily beaten and any sense of challenge or progression through skill growth is lost.

Any treasure chests found along the way never offer anything exciting, and the movement in general is so slow that the dungeons wore out their welcome as I was trudging back and forth trying to complete sidequests.

While it manages to offer decent characters and an interesting battle system, MeiQ: Labyrinth Of Death is a disappointment overall. With so many strong entries in the dungeon-crawl genre already, one that only goes half the distance is impossible to recommend.  Rating: 5 out of 10


 

Disclosures: The game is developed by Compile Heart and is currently available on Vita. This copy of the game was supplied by the publisher and was reviewed on Vita. Approximately 20 hours were spent playing the game and it was not completed at the time of review. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to ESRB the game is rated T for Teen and contains Fantasy Violence and Suggestive Themes. It isn’t suitable for younger children due to the revealing costumes worn by the cast.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: The entire game is supported with subtitles, and any action is supported by on-screen indication. It’s fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: This game’s controls are not remappable.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes.

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