Labyrinth of Refrain : Coven of Dusk
Developed By : NIS
Published By : NIS America
Category : Dungeon Crawler, First Person, RPG
Release Date : Sep 18, 2018
Originally seeing a release two years ago in Japan on the PS Vita, Labyrinth of Refrain makes it’s introduction to the rest of the world on the Nintendo Switch (but not exclusively). The game takes place in a town called Refrain, which is home to a fabled cursed underground labyrinth, a place that many adventurers seek to explore, but none survive for very long. Despite the treacherous stories, a witch strolls into town hellbent on taking on the Labyrinth. She has in her posession a book, which just could be the key to surviving the town’s maze.
Your role as the book (oh…did you think you were going to play as the witch?) is to use your ability to create puppets to fight the things that are thrown at you. It’s the witch who brings these puppets to life, but you are the one who gives them everything that matters. Choose from six Facets to assign them to (these would be the classes), and set them into units and form a synergetic bond between multiple units to enhance their abilities during combat.
Unlike most dungeon crawlers, which are presented in a top-down visual style, Labyrinth of Refrain chooses to go from a first-person perspective as the book. This is how you’ll explore the labyrinth’s passages, after you’ve created your units from above. Once you enter into a combat scenario, your puppets and the labyrinth’s creatures shift into a 2-D sprite form, and everything plays out from a menu-based system.
Your puppets can attack, perform magic (dependent on which class you’ve placed them in) or base physical attacks with whatever weapon is on their person. One thing I liked was while you’re wondering the labyrinth and its halls/rooms, there is a bar that’s almost always pulsating on the top of the UI. It took me a bit until I realized that this is essentially an enemy indicator. If the pulse is on the higher end/red side of the bar then any one of your next steps could get you into a fight, but if it’s empty or only pulsing green, then you’re safe…for now.
Overall, Labyrinth of Refrain is a fun experience. Seeing a dungeon crawler from the first person perspective is definitely different and not common. Unfortunately, the labyrinths paths maintain a very similar and monotone look for long stretches of play, so things can begin to feel a little bland and unoriginal. It gets shifted up when using the menu-heavy combat system, which is saved from blandness itself by the sprites on screen. What would have made this even better, though, is if your own puppet sprites were constantly on the screen, instead of just dropping in randomly and inconsistently.
This title gets released late this week, and will definitely be a must play for fans of the genre. Don’t dabble in dungeon crawlers normally? Labyrinth of Refrain may be a perfect introductory title to see if it’s a genre you’d like to stay in. Either way, this title will surely stand out as a great addition to the Switch’s library, so don’t pass it up.