Initial release date: February 14, 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation Vita
Series: Labyrinth of
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Genres: Role-playing video game, Adventure game, Strategy
Publisher: NIS America
"Review Copy Provided By NIS America"
For those unfamiliar with the genre, dungeon crawlers can seem like a daunting challenge. The complex character development and challenging level design can make the idea of tackling such a game less than appealing. However, in the case of Labyrinth of Galleria The Moon Society, even those who share these apprehensions will find something to enjoy. In this game, players take on the role of Eureka Soleil, a cheerful and optimistic young woman who takes a job at the Galleria Manor. There, she becomes the medium for Lanterne de Fantasmagorie, also known as Fantie, as they explore a series of dangerous dungeons accessible through a wardrobe in the manor. The labyrinth is notorious for killing adventurers, but with the help of inorganic puppet soldiers led by Fantie, players can safely navigate the treacherous areas and avoid the grisly fate that befalls many others. For those who can make it through the opening hours and remain patient, Labyrinth of Galleria The Moon Society offers a rewarding experience for both veterans and newcomers to the genre.
Marta, a powerful witch residing in the manor, is the one who introduces Eureka to her job and the complexities surrounding it. She also provides the puppets with their power and grants access to the labyrinth. Eureka's mission is to find mysterious artifacts from unknown art galleries, to satisfy the owner of the estate.
While the premise of the story may seem bland, it becomes more captivating as the player progresses, due to the memorable cast of characters. The discovery of hidden truths about the mysterious artifacts in the labyrinth, the past of the manor's previous owner, and the presence of another young girl in the estate all contribute to the game's sense of exploration and discovery. These elements are woven into the gameplay, which combines dungeon crawling and turn-based combat. Although these concepts are not overly complex, the game could have done a better job of introducing them.
From the start, players are bombarded with tutorials, leaving little room for natural learning through the gameplay. This constant flow of tutorials made the exploration of the labyrinth feel longer and more cumbersome than it actually was. After the initial tutorials, the pace of the game becomes more relaxed, with explanations only appearing occasionally. Players explore the dungeons using puppets that are created using key materials. Players can choose the puppets' specialties, such as the Stance that determines their initial status, and the growth type that affects their stats as they level up. Equipment also varies based on the puppet type, requiring players to carefully consider their party formations.
While the sheer number of stats can be overwhelming for those new to the genre, much of it can be progressed without a deep understanding. Players must exercise adaptability and patience throughout the game, otherwise they may feel frustrated.
One of the central mechanics, Witch Petitions, is located at the manor base and is essential for success in the labyrinths. Players gather Mana in the dungeons to unlock diverse functionalities that provide supplemental benefits over time. A shop that sells restorative items greatly assists during travel. However, if the puppets sustain significant damage, their limbs may be torn, requiring costly restoration if the necessary materials are not available.
In Labyrinth of Galleria The Moon Society, Donums offer a unique twist to the magic or skill system. These skills are not straightforward, as they depend on the Pact a Coven is using, so players must be careful in choosing the right Donum for their characters. With the ability to transfer Donums between Pacts later on, players are presented with even more strategic decision-making opportunities. Liberation skills are special Donum that unleash a unique ability and can be a lifesaver in dire situations. For those looking to avoid repetitive battles or revisit areas for treasure, the game provides various tools in the form of Fantiebilities. These abilities range from lures and traps to bait enemies, to skills that allow you to break walls or disperse illusions. The Fog Veil ability, in particular, is useful as it makes players invisible to combat encounters and is a great way to escape from strong enemies.
The labyrinth is a vast playground filled with treasures, and once players unlock the Wall Breaker ability, they'll be eager to explore all its possibilities. Other notable traversal skills include Long Jump and High Jump, which can be challenging to master. Players can use the Shine Light ability to locate usable spots for these skills on the map.
Performance on the Steam Deck is absolutely flawless with no hiccups whatsoever. The game runs at a smooth 60FPS and even if you dock it and push it to 1080P, you can still get a smooth 60FPS. Battery life averages around 2 and a half hours with default settings, although you can squeeze out 3 hours if you turn the brightness down and lower the TDP settings.
In the end, the game's balance of enjoyable gameplay can be discovered by taking your time and exploring the menus rather than rushing through the adventure. The dungeon design also adds to these strengths, as players are given new methods of traversal as the narrative progresses, such as breaking down walls or crossing poisonous tiles. Although these tools help maintain the pace, there were instances where I found the correct path to be a bit too obscure, which hindered my enjoyment occasionally. A key tip for beginners is to pay attention to the walkable tile layout, as symmetry can suggest undiscovered areas.
Labyrinth of Galleria The Moon Society is an engaging dungeon-crawling RPG that is sure to captivate fans of the genre for hours on end. With its complex but user-friendly gameplay mechanics, impactful consequences, and satisfying moments of progress, playing this game is a delightful experience. Despite some design choices that I found disappointing, lengthy tutorials, and uninspired environments, I am glad I persevered until the end of this adventure.