Labyrinth of Zangetsu from PQube and ACQUIRE is a gorgeous Sumi-e ink-looking first-person dungeon crawler you have to check out on Nintendo Switch. Find out why in our Labyrinth of Zangetsu review!
Labyrinth of Zangetsu from PQube and ACQUIRE is a gorgeous Sumi-e ink-looking first-person dungeon crawler you have to check out on Nintendo Switch. If Sumi-e doesn’t ring a bell right away, it’s something that you’ve definitely seen before. The trailer and screens in this Labyrinth of Zangetsu review have probably jogged your memory. Sumi-e is a monochromatic drawing technique first seen in China, which was later introduced to Japan way back in the 16th Century. It roughly translates to black ink painting. The art style is definitely the first thing that will grab your attention as soon as you boot up Labyrinth of Zangetsu on Nintendo’s consoles.
Your adventure will take place during the Ido era, during which the Ink of Ruin wreaked havoc on the land. Your task will require you to venture deep into the impure Labyrinths so that you can destroy the Ink of Ruin that is plaguing the land. On your path will be a series of entities based on Japanese folklore and Yokai – monsters, ghosts, and ghouls that are definitely past the line for horror. You can play the game in one of two modes: Normal or Blightstained. For Normal, your progress is saved automatically at a Labyrinth, and you can choose to recover if your party is wiped out. If playing on Blightstained, there will be no automatic saves, and when defeated, the corpses will remain where the characters fell.
A new training order has just been received for Blightbane Conscripts, and that means it’s time to get a team of six ready to proceed to the trial! This is the game’s way of getting you started with a tutorial so that you can learn all of the basics. The first step will be to complete your party of six so that they can be sent into the dungeon. You can either decide to create new characters from scratch or go over the Conscript list to see which six characters are available in order to speed up the whole process.
There are six different races for you to choose from: Human, Dwarf, Elf, Cavegram, Nekotama, and Half-Oni. Humans are your standard character, perfectly balanced to take on the front or back lines of your party as needed. Dwarves have smaller frames, but they certainly pack a punch! This is why they’re best suited to be, say, a Warrior or a Cleric positioned at the vanguard. Elves possess great knowledge, making them ideal for the magical arts needed by a Cleric or a Wizard that can be placed in the rearguard.
Cavegrams are small creatures that live underground, making them very agile and spirited. They’re a very lucky bunch, which means you might consider them for the role of Thief. A Nekomata is a creature of the feline variety that has a good amount of physical strength that can work for a class such as the samurai. And then we have the Half-Onis. As their name suggests, they’re huge entities with demon blood cursing through their veins, which means they’re not going to excel in magical arts, but are a solid option for a mighty warrior or a monk.
Each of the aforementioned races will have different starting stats for you to consider so that you don’t end up sending them down a path in which they will never end up excelling. Each race will also have some bonus points for you to allocate to ability scores so that you can boost a character’s strength, dexterity, vitality, intelligence, spirit, and charisma. You could use the bonus points to accentuate the abilities at which a character naturally excels or spend them on balancing things out as you see fit.
And then, we have the choices for classes to keep in mind. There are nine classes in total in the game, and you’ll be able to select them depending on the race selected for your character and how many bonus points it has. The classes are Warrior, Thief, Cleric, Wizard, Samurai, Monk, Paladin, Ninja, and Sage. The Warrior is your classic combat specialist that can use heavy weapons and armor, focusing on unlocking skills that can allow them to use their physical strength to its fullest potential on the battlefield. The Thief is an expert in avoiding danger, disarming traps to avoid damage, or opening locks to gain access. It excels at using ranged weapons that can keep it at a safer distance from enemies.
The Cleric is a sacred practitioner that can use holy magic for healing and other miracles while also having slid offensive capabilities. The Wizard is a sorcerer that focuses on the occult by tapping into the natural flow of energy to use mana magic for deadly spells that can make a big difference in combat. A Samurai is a highly skilled warrior that can cut down enemies at a very fast pace. It favors attack over defense and won’t be able to equip a shield to protect itself, but it can use bushido skills to deal massive damage at the right time.
The Monk is an expert in martial arts who can use their finely honed bodies and mind to find the weak points of an opponent to exploit them in full. The Paladin is a holy knight that specializes in using weapons that can attack enemies from a distance, such as spears, while also learning skills that allow them to protect allies. The Ninja is an assassin that attacks from the darkness, making the most of attacks that can also cause negative status effects. The last one is the Sage, a class that excels at both using holy magic and mana magic, making the Sage a force to be reckoned with.
Combat is of the turn-based variety. What this means is that once you enter combat while exploring the Labyrinths, you’ll get to see the enemies in front of you and can select from different commands to instruct orders to your group of Blightbane Conscripts. Once you’ve selected what each of your party members will do, you start the round as characters and enemies perform their actions depending on their speed. After everyone has done their thing, it will be time to repeat the process until all enemies are defeated or your party is defeated.
As your party members explore each Labyrinth and take on the many foes and bosses they will find in their quest to eradicate the Ink, they will gain experience points as a reward for their efforts. Once they have completed a mission and collected enough experience points, a character will level up. This will improve their stats, gaining more HP, strength, or vitality, but it could also have a negative effect on some of their stats. They will also learn new skills that can help them defeat stronger enemies or protect or heal party members.
Once you complete the initial trial Labyrinth and learn all of the basics, you’ll gain access to three facilities: the Blightbane Chapter HQ, the trading post, and the Temple. At the Blightbane Chapter HQ, you’ll be able to assemble your party with the current group of characters at your disposal or recruit new Conscripts. Who knows, one of them might be able to change their class at the HQ! As expected, the trading post is where you can get new equipment and items with the money you’ve earned or sell items that you don’t longer need. The Temple is an important location since you can use it to purify characters that have been corrupted by the Ink and even get a chance to revive those that are petrified, ashen… or dead. Resurrection is not a guarantee, so if you try to revive a fallen Conscript and the process fails, then they will be gone for good.
Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a gorgeous Sumi-e ink-looking first-person dungeon crawler that you need to check out on Nintendo Switch. The game pays homage to classic releases in the genre while adding some quality-of-life improvements that are very much appreciated for a dungeon crawler launching in 2023. There are no random battles since you’ll be able to spot enemies from the clouds of deadly Ink in the Labyrinths so that you can prepare for combat. Labyrinth of Zangetsu is out on Nintendo Switch at a $29.99 price. There are also some crossover DLC packs to consider, such as the AKIBA’S TRIP Collaboration Characters Pack, which adds eight characters from the game AKIBA’S TRIP, or the Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent Characters Pack, which adds eight characters from Adventure Academia: The Fractured Continent, each one available for only $2.49.
This Labyrinth of Zangetsu review is based on a Nintendo Switch copy provided by PQube.