“You must restart the world, and bring an end to this eternal night.”
How does one restart the world? In MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death it requires a Machina Mage to restart the planetary gears by turning them once they are frozen in place. This is a dungeon crawler game unlike previous dungeon crawlers before it. Most dungeon crawler games such as Stranger of Sword City feature multiple dungeons and challenges. Meanwhile, MeiQ only offers a total of four main dungeons. Will this help MeiQ become a more immersive experience or will it feel like the same old dungeon?
The theme of the world being frozen has been explored before by Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Time & Darkness. They both share the idea of the planetary gear stops moving, causing time itself to stop. Though MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death‘s story follows multiple characters, the majority of it is told through Estra’s perspective. During the beginning section of the game, it was hard to tell who the player was controlling due to its vague storytelling. While MeiQ has the potential to be unique having 5 main heroines in the story, in the end, it falls short.
After each heroine joins the player’s party, their character development in any form of hits a dead end. While Stranger of Sword City featured a small storyline and little character development, it worked well for the game because the character party members were created from blank slates and focused more on the environment and what creatures existed in each section. MeiQ fails to utilize the characters development to further build the world around them.
MeiQ has a very simplistic layout for the dungeons. While each dungeon has a simple theme, they use simple sprite art to help spring to life. However, having the entire dungeon use a similar layout made it feel unrealistic. Other dungeon crawlers in the past instead use their big maps to make sure players are able to lose themselves in a dungeon and keep them occupied with a variety of challenges they need to face.
While in battle, the player switches from a first-person perspective to third-person. This was a good choice because it showed how many enemies the player was facing. If it remained in first person perspective all the player would see is the back side of the robots they managed.
While traversing the dungeon, the player may encounter various enemies. Each encounter varies, however, most of the time the encounters are dealing with multiple enemies. Strangely, the player has access to a deadly skill unlocked early in the game that allows them to hit multiple enemies. While the skill is great for grinding, it is poorly balanced as the damage output is strong enough to make the boss fights of each dungeon feel like a normal enemy encounter.
One of the game’s main features is that the player has the ability to customize the robots they obtain. This is greatly overshadowed, however, by the early multi-hit skill mentioned above. The heroines in the games only have a small amount of customization available with few items to enhance their stats. Any possible skill they obtain is pre-determined and leaves little room for the player to have different builds.
MeiQ took an interesting route for how it utilized the sound in the game. Inside the dungeons, there are only sound effects to amplify how empty the dungeon feels. When in combat, any music that is playing makes encounters feel special. While the battle music just fell short of being anything memorable, the choice to utilize the sounds to amplify the environment played out as a better decision.
This game is defiantly an interesting one to review. Comparing to other games, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death‘s strongest point is its using sounds for the environment. It did, however, fall short with character development and gameplay. While the game is nothing great, it was still a fun experience and an interesting take on the dungeon crawler genre.
HEY! HEY!! LISTEN!!! gives MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death for PS Vita 7 dungeons out of 10.