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MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

Score: 72%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Idea Factory
Developer: Compile Heart
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Hey! The line starts over there, so get in line. Huh? What do you mean "what line?" The line for machina mages, silly. Everyone that is classified as a mage has to get in line and sign up so we can fix everything. Get in line, otherwise you wonít be featured in MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death!

MeiQ is pretty stellar on graphics considering itís a little dungeon crawler on the Vita. Despite the first person view, the environments look really breathtaking and beautiful, even more so when viewed in a cutscene. Iím not real big on these types of dungeon crawlers, but the graphics really had me excited to explore every new environment that Iíd come across, even if I did very poorly in battle. Speaking of battles, I also really liked the models used for enemies and player guardians. Granted, I wouldíve liked to see some of the main cast animated instead of just rendered in 2D, but I still enjoyed what I got to see. MeiQ is very pleasing to the eyes, even if weíre wandering labyrinths of death.

Iím also a big fan of the soundtrack in this game. All of the tracks have a very mysterious sound to them, like something Iíd expect from a game revolving around mages. Wait a minuteÖ. Anyway, the battle tracks retain much of the quiet, mysterious tone, but pick up over the course of battle. Normally Iím a sucker for intense, fast-paced battle tracks, but the atmosphere created by the exploration tracks and the buildup of the battle tracks was a very welcome change up for me. I like a little atmosphere from time to time. Aside from that, thereís plenty of voice acting in the game and players can choose between English or Japanese voice acting at the beginning of the game. Donít worry, you can always change it later if you get tired of your current option.


Gameplay:

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is the type of game I havenít seen in a while. Itís very much like old school dungeon crawlers where, instead of the top down view of your characters, you experience the game through the eyes of your character. You navigate with the Directional Pad and steadily progress forward by pressing forward and you have to turn to look around since you only see in one direction. While old school (at least to me), itís nice to have a different form of immersion. Eventually, youíll come across enemies randomly and youíll have to dispatch them in order to continue your exploration. As you explore, you may come across treasures and the like, which you can interact with simply by walking up to them. While exploring, you can press the (Triangle) button to bring up the Main Menu. From here, you can examine your Guardians, check on your Members, view Items, change your Party Formation, use Machina Magic, suspend your current save, view the Library, or configure settings. No harm in stopping for a quick break, y'know?

MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is pretty simple to understand and easy to pick up and play. On the screen, youíll see several bits of vital information related to where you are currently. To the top left is the dungeon and floor information and underneath that is a mini-map that records your steps taken. Let me just say that the map is invaluable in this game. I spent so long going back and forth in the same area that once I learned about the map, I nearly cried tears of joy. Anyway, underneath the map is the battle memberís health and you can track money and aether in the top right. If the pace is a bit slow for you, you can hold the (Circle) button to dash through the air and automatically turn corners. Pressing the Left or Right bumper allows you to perform a quick side step. It never hurts to go mobile in a dungeon.

The main ordeal youíll face is battling enemies who try to stop your progress. In battle, youíll be in charge of the main character along with a guardian. You wonít see your character, but youíll see your guardian representing your side in battle. Your guardian has several attacks based on their equipment. Your guardian will also take attacks in your place from the onset, unless you switch. You can switch the active member in battle by pressing the (Triangle) button. This allows you to use your characterís attacks, but they take direct damage from attacks. If your guardian falls, your character will take over, but if the character falls, your guardian wonít be able to act. Be careful with how you manage battle.


Difficulty:

In MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death, players are given the option of choosing between one of two difficulties: Normal and Hard. I know, itís a little weird being given only those two options, but I think itís better to have at least Normal and Hard rather than Easy and Hard or Easy and Normal. Anyway, Hard Mode will increase enemy stats, thus increasing the difficulty of battle. Youíre rewarded with more money and experience for winning the battle, however. If you fancy yourself a MeiQ expert, then you can try the two higher difficulties that are unlocked once you complete Hard. Completing Hard will unlock the first, while completing that difficulty will unlock the next. You might find yourself in a jam as you progress through difficulty levels, but if youíre into that sort of thing, make sure to enjoy yourself!

Game Mechanics:

The guardians would probably be a little upset if I donít give them some spotlight time. As mentioned previously, each mage is partnered with their own guardian. Guardians fight beside the mages, taking orders from them in order to vanquish evil beings. Your guardian is almost completely able to be customized by you, as their attacks are dependent on what equipment you put in one of their four parts. The four customizable parts are the Machina Core, the Body, the Right Arm, and the Left Arm. These four areas also contribute to your guardianís parameters. The Machina Core multiplies the guardianís basic parameters, the Body determines your guardianís basic parameters, and the Left and Right Arms hold up to three attack skills while also increasing the guardianís attack and magic attack. Take care of your guardian so he can take care of you!

Combat would be a bit too simple if all there was to it was attacking with your best moves. Fortunately, MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death assigns enemies and allies their own element. Certain elements will be more effective against some, while less effective against others. There are five elements featured: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water. Youíre given a chart in game to learn element strengths and weaknesses. Element effectiveness is measured by very ineffective, ineffective, effective, and very effective. Effectiveness will determine the damage dealt. For example, if you use an element that is very effective against another element, youíll deal some high damage. The flip side is also true, however. Using an ineffective move will deal considerably less damage. Learning the matchups will help you progress smoothly through the game and hopefully avoid more difficult obstacles. If you forget any matchups, simply press the (Start) button in battle to pull up the chart.

I haven't played a dungeon crawler in many moons, but MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death was a really fun experience. What really got me was the soundtrack. I absolutely loved the background music in the environments and it really made me feel immersed in the experience. I also really loved the map, so I didnít end up lost for hours on end. The combat was pretty standard, which Iím fine with. It wasnít bad and the element effectiveness made it a bit more interesting. Overall, MeiQ is a pretty nice game to pick up if youíve got a dungeon crawler itch.


-SS-54, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ren Plummer

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