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2011 In Review 35: The Labyrinth 
 PostSun Feb 19, 2012 9:31 pm
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This is a review of The Labyrinth.

Master K made "The Labyrinth" in twentyish hours and it shows. He borrows a lot of stuff from "Castle on the Night Land" including the music, and doesn't seem to know what to do with it all. Where "Castle" had a sense of exploration and problem solving, "Labyrinth" has trudging through maps that are way too big and trial and error. That's not to say it couldn't be a good game, but there's just too many little mistakes holding the project back as a whole.

First off, I have no idea what the hero is supposed to be, though I will admit this gave me something to do during the 20 minutes I watched him wander around. My final guess is some kind of elephant robot. I could live with that, but skeletons also have identity issues. The first one you see is plainly a skeleton and after that it gets harder to tell. When things are moving around really quick and you have to decide whether or not you should kill it or dodge it, readability should be the #1 concern.

You can save anywhere so it doesn't matter if it does turn out to be a dangerous monster, but that takes away a certain something from exploration. Part of the fun of games like this should be the trial and error. "Castle On The Night Land" does this in a pretty good way. If something kills you, you're not supposed to be there yet. Look around someplace else. When you find something, you can go back and try it at these places you couldn't go before. You feel so smart when you pick up your sword and think "I bet those skeletons won't bother me now!" and sure enough, they won't. "Labyrinth" doesn't give you this joy. You can go through the whole game by dodging every single enemy, only to get to the final boss totally unprepared.

When you start killing enemies it's even more disappointing. I got a club and thought "I bet those ladybugs won't be an issue now" and found out that ladybugs hadn't been an issue since I picked up my skeleton killing sword. Somewhere I found a cross and thought "I bet ghosts won't possess me now!", but they still did. Eventually I read its description and found that it protects me from vampires and demons. There's only two vampires in the game and neither of them is remotely a threat. There's eventually a demon type enemy, but they don't care that you have a cross either. The cross is bullshit. It was neat when I figured out that somewhere I had picked up the ability to kill slimes, but since I didn't need to kill any slimes the point was moot.

If the enemies made you have to explore, the game would be more fun. Instead, the same enemies are repeated numerous times throughout the four levels, always going in an easy to dodge pattern. You get a weapon, you don't have to dodge 'em. You get enough weapons, you get past the guy at the end. You save and reload a bunch of times to do it. That's pretty much what we've got here.

There are some effective parts. The intro music is ominous as hell and works great. I almost wish he'd used it throughout the game instead of the stuff from "Castle". There are wizards who block your path, and they vanish with a great flash and snap that makes you worry about what's going to be on the next floor. The ending's simple, but has a very heartfelt message from the creator that makes me feel bad about some of the bad stuff I've had to say.

I think the biggest mistake Master K made was just not using more of his time. There were a few mistagged NPCs on level four that could've been found with a few hours of bugtesting, and there's lots of other stuff that could've been polished up in the 28 hours he had left. Instead, he went for pure speed. I'll give him credit, this could've won a 24 hour game contest. 24 hours is a whole different animal, but when you've got 48 hours you should try to use all 48 of them, because you can do twice as much. You look at the clock at the 24 hour mark and you think "Boy, I got a lot done", but you oughta think "BOOM! I got a lot done and I can do just as much on top and have a game that's cooler than Brett Favre at Lambeau Field!"

I'm too tired to edit this. I haven't had breakfast yet. I'm sorry, people of the future. (Or did I only review this game in half the time available to me? That'd be sort of meta.)

Score: 2/10
2011 Score (Per Aug 20th): 79/100

Part of Gomey's 2011 Year In Review
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