There has been a lot of talk recently about Sony’s stance on censorship when it comes to certain video games. Some games are having to alter some of their content to release on Sony’s platform while others are just getting denied altogether. The Labyrinth franchise happens to fit into both of those criteria as Omega Labyrinth Z was cancelled from releasing in the West on the PlayStation 4. The latest entry, Labyrinth Life, has made its way to the PlayStation 4 though but it had to alter some of its content to do so. Is this anime fan servicey, dungeon crawler/management game worth your time?
Labyrinth Life is part visual novel, part dungeon crawler, and part management game. The story unfolds with images of the various characters appearing in front of static backgrounds so if you’ve played a visual novel you’ll know what to expect here. There is no English voice-over so you’ll be doing a lot of reading instead. The story follows the first ever transfer student, Hinata Akatsuki, to attend Belles Fleurs Academy. This academy just so happens to have a well known garden called the Grand Garden that just so happens to die soon after Hinata’s arrival at the academy. As you might expect the other students think Hinata had something to do with it and Hinata has to set out to prove that she is innocent and bring this prestigious garden back to life. I wouldn’t call the story anything special but it and the characters were fine enough as I spent my time with the rather enjoyable gameplay.
When it comes to that actual gameplay you’ll spend a lot of your time exploring the Holy Caves so in other words dungeon crawling. Every dungeon allows you to enter with up to two characters and is different in how big it is and how it is laid out. Every floor has enemies within that you’ll have to defeat as you progress. Your goal is to get to the end so that you can take things you find back to the other parts of the game. Should you die at any point you’ll lose anything you found along the way in that dungeon and have to start over. Some dungeons will give you different objectives like try not to be seen by an enemy but for the most part your goal is to always get to the end without dying. Character movement felt good to me and there is a sprint option so that you can move about the floors faster which is useful should you have to backtrack.
Each character has a character level and omega power that are increased while you progress through the dungeons. However once you exit that dungeon your level is reset back to the beginning and your omega energy is also reset. Weapons and other equipment like bras and panties do get stronger and retain that so those are the things that really make repeat runs easier. As you defeat enemies your level and omega energy increase for that dungeon. This omega energy plays into the fan service elements of the game as the more you gain the bigger your characters bust size becomes which makes them stronger. As I completed dungeons I got better gear and started to find them to start being a bit on the easy side but there are some harder, more challenging special dungeons included as well.
The other part of the gameplay comes from rebuilding and managing the garden. Here you can plant, water, and collect the flowers and arrange them to your liking. You’ll want to do all of this because you can upgrade that equipment I talked about earlier by doing so with various materials. Nectar is something else you can gather that is then used to increase the base stats of your characters. It can also be used to buy various things for your garden. Roaming around this area and talking to the other students is also worth doing as they might ask you for a favor in exchange for something that could help you during your next dungeon run. I’ll admit I didn’t find the whole garden management gameplay here particularly fun and nothing about it really makes this game stand out.
Labyrinth Life also has various mini-games that crop up at times and this is where you’ll find a lot of the censored material. Some items you find need to be appraised in order to discover what they really are. To do this you have to use your omega energy to rub them between the breasts of your character. On the PS4 version this mini-game has pretty much been removed as you don’t see anything and instead just get a flash of light and then the item is revealed. On the Switch version of this game you actually have to rub the item between the breasts. Other things like this include hot springs you can enter that give stat boosts and which displays artwork of the female characters. This artwork on the PS4 version though covers up certain areas of their bodies with white fog. A lot of the artwork is still full of fan service material but if you’re someone who really cares about that you’ll probably want to buy the Switch version instead. Those who don’t care so much and care more about the gameplay should be fine with the PS4 version here.
Labyrinth Life to me is a good enough dungeon crawler but it doesn’t do a lot to stand out from other similar games in the genre. I enjoyed the actual dungeon crawling aspect but the story and gardening portions could’ve been more interesting and fun. A game like this is also clearly made for fans of this kind of content and with so much artwork covered up and mini-games removed from the PS4 version compared to the Switch version of the game, it can be hard to recommend to those hardcore fans.
*Labyrinth Life is available now on PlayStation 4 and Omega Labyrinth Life on Nintendo Switch. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Has fun dungeon crawling gameplay
- Cute, colorful art style and well drawn artwork
- Still features some fan service material
- Didn't find the garden gameplay to be engaging
- Censored artwork and mini-game removals make this inferior to the Switch version
- Story could've been more interesting