Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
Developer: WHY SO SERIOUS?, Team Ladybug
Publisher: WHY SO SERIOUS?, PLAYISM
Genre(s): 2D Exploration, Action, Metroidvania
Age Rating: TBD
Release Date: 27 March 2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
When the High Elf Deedlit finds herself in an unfamiliar land, she swiftly sets out in search of answers. Unfortunately for her, these can only be found by battling hordes of monsters, and some familiar opponents from her past…
A Friend in Need is a Friend InDeed(lit)
Record of Lodoss War is a franchise featuring books, games, and an anime series, yet we’ve somehow barely crossed paths. I did actually play the MMO version a few years back, though I didn’t get far. It looks like that’s no longer available to play anyway, at least in the West.
Because of this, the story largely makes no sense to me, or at least I don’t know how significant events are. The basic premise of Wonder Labyrinth is that the High Elf Deedlit wakes up in a mysterious realm with no memory of why she’s there. Over the course of the game, she runs into various characters who offer cryptic hints about what’s going on. I presume I’d know who they were if I’d experienced any of the above listed media…
It’s very much not written for people who aren’t familiar with the franchise. While it’s easy enough to follow that this character is a threat and that character is an ally, it’s hard to get invested in what’s going on from the outside.
Wonder Labyrinth is shackled a bit by its attachment to the overarching narrative of the Lodoss War series, yet it felt like a series of fan-service encounters rather than a deep new entry in the ongoing storyline anyway. Either way, it’s not usually the story that draws me to this sort of experience.
Symphony of the Knight
What actually is easy to get invested in is the gameplay. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is very much a classic Metroidvania game, tasking you with exploring a 2D environment while obtaining abilities that unlock new paths. Along the way, you’ll fight monsters that respawn every time you leave a room, and occasionally come face to face with tricky boss encounters.
The usual staples can be found here – a variety of melee weapons, magic powers, and items hidden behind destructible walls. Where it differs from the Metroidvania games I’ve played is in a mechanic I last saw in Ikaruga. You can switch between flame and wind powers (or orange and blue if you prefer).
When you’re flame-powered, you can’t be damaged by fire, and will absorb that damage as magic points instead. The same goes for being blue. In addition, each element has levels that you gain by using the opposite element, increasing your damage. Once you’re at level three in an element, you’ll automatically regen health.
However, getting hit while you’re a particular element will make you lose one of those levels. This combines to make fights an interesting dance of swapping elements to avoid damage, but also to regen health.
Face Your Fears
The element system works well during bosses too – you can regain levels relatively quickly but that means playing aggressively. The result is a satisfying risk-vs-reward system of turning fights back in your favour.
While I don’t want to go into all the abilities you obtain, they combine together to make the later bosses particularly exciting. And probably most importantly, I never felt boss abilities were unfair. All of them had a pattern or solution, and working out how to beat each was a satisfying challenge.
Along with those systems, you can use your bow outside of combat for specific puzzles. Rebounding arrows off particular surfaces allows you to hit distant targets and open new routes. The rebound feature also comes in handy for certain enemies you can’t bring down directly…
Visually, the game adopts a classic pixel style, with some lovingly-crafted bosses and a variety of locations. Deedlit herself has smooth animations, and while the backgrounds are detailed with moving parts, they never clash with the action in the foreground.
The soundtrack also provides great accompaniment and never felt repetitive at any stage. That’s just as well, as you could find yourself listening to it for a while if you get lost!
Short But Sweet
I suppose I should discuss the bad parts of Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth but there honestly weren’t that many low points. Generally speaking, I found it was my fault if I died, and the variety of enemies kept things interesting to the end.
Gearing isn’t particularly complex but that honestly works in its favour from my perspective. The less time I spend in menus, the better! Wonder Labyrinth’s difficulty comes from how you combine your various abilities in fights, rather than how much gear you’ve collected. I suppose something is lost in not putting together overpowered combinations, though.
It’s not the longest game – it took me roughly eight hours for a clear with about ninety-eight percent of the map explored. The pace felt fast from beginning to end. If you enjoy memorising every location or searching, you might find it a bit simpler than other Metroidvanias like Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (check out our PS4 review here).
Both Sides of the Coin
Speaking of easy, some of the bosses could potentially fall into this category depending on what you’re looking for from the game. One of them I dispatched by just running away and using the same magic spell. That’s not to say that I never died, but compared to some Castlevania and Bloodstained bosses I’d say it was on the easier side overall.
Despite that, many of the fights are quite frantic and can feel a bit overwhelming until you’ve worked out their patterns and how best to use your abilities. This process always felt natural and rewarding to me, though, so it’s hard for me to list it as a negative. I guess it’s more of a Buyer Beware advisory!
Probably the worst part of the game is its name, which took a bit of memorising before I could accurately answer anyone who asked me what I was playing! I’m probably supposed to just call it Wonder Labyrinth, though…
Wonder by Name, Wonder by Nature
While it’s on the shorter side, it’s the kind of game that invites further playthroughs, and I can bet that it’ll be a blast for speed-running. The story was a bit alienating but you don’t need to be familiar with the series to enjoy this game.
All in all, I had a blast playing through Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. It’s got great pacing, a satisfying combination of abilities both for combat and mobility, and some great boss fights. I wholeheartedly recommend picking it up.
Rapid Reviews Rating
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.