REVIEW: Deep Labyrinth

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Deep Labyrinth, a remake of a first-person dungeon crawler game originally for cell phones, is far inferior to another similar cell phone game on the DS, Orcs & Elves. In at least one way, the two are opposites: Deep Labyrinth is long and repetitive with rambling featureless dungeons, while Orcs & Elves is condensed with small areas packed full of interesting features and rooms. But this isn’t a review of Orcs & Elves. The point of mentioning it was only to say that there are cell phone games out there worth porting to DS, even if Deep Labyrinth isn’t one.

Deep Labyrinth is divided into two separate but similar games. In one, you enter a fantasy world in your parents’ minds and fight to keep them from getting a divorce. In the other, you play a man who has been sucked into a magical realm in his cell phone. Both stories are utterly unique but poorly utilized. The metaphysical plot doesn’t provide any real explanation for all the dungeon crawling you’ve got coming. While this isn’t a problem for me, the lack of variety is. There are hardly any monsters types, new equipment is rare, most of your spells are useless, and the dungeon levels are all weirdly similar, as if generated with an algorithm, even though they aren’t random. All of that still wouldn’t necessarily mean Deep Labyrinth is no fun—look at my review of Towers: Lord Baniff’s Deceit for Game Boy, which is solid despite similar shortcomings—but the redeeming features are few: The surreal dream-like atmosphere is interesting, having a dog is fun, and it’s nice to see a dungeon crawler so pure in form without any boring exposition, but those things don’t save the game.

Beyond Deep Labyrinth’s tedium, it’s also difficult to play. The touch screen controls, which are usually unnecessary and prevent me from playing more DS games, are especially bad here. Dodging in combat to makes your sword slashes miss inconsistently. You cast magic through an extremely unreliable glyph drawing system, where some of the spells require a dozen strokes. Defending is unresponsive, and requires you to tap a little out of the way button. Even the touch spots on the menus can seem a little finicky at times.

With a name like Deep Labyrinth, I’m ready to like it. And I even beat the game, both episodes, although it was mind numbing. At its best, Deep Labyrinth is forgettable. At its worst, it’s boring and frustrating. As far as cell phone ports go, Orcs & Elves is superb, or if you’re just looking first-person dungeon crawlers the lists goes on and on: from Double Dungeons to Ultima Underworld, but probably you can pass on this one.

 

13

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