Surrounded by complete darkness and heavily restrained in an antiquated wheelchair, life looks bleak. But then you notice a button has been placed within your hand, which appears to activate a laser pointer attached to your head. Targeting what looks like a pull chain, a figure steps out of the darkness and switches on a lamp to illuminate the room.
Numerous questions begin to run through your mind – Who is this person, and why am I strapped in against my will? Is my life in serious danger? How on earth do I escape from this place?
That’s how the unsettling opening moments play out in Last Labyrinth -Lucidity Lost-, a mysterious escape room style puzzler developed by AMATA K.K.. Formerly an experience only possible in VR, Last Labyrinth has been reworked for PC and consoles; removing the need for a headset. So, let’s find out whether the haunting puzzling within still manages to succeed without VR.
In Last Labyrinth, the mysterious person you first meet is actually a girl, Katia, whose sole job is to provide aid. Point at something to interact with using the laser and she will gleefully perform the action – albeit after a brief nod of the head using the analog stick. The idea is to find a way out of the room you’re in, which could involve simply exiting through a door or solving a puzzle. Succeed in the puzzle and everything’s rosy. Fail and death looms for both of you.
Somebody is watching everything unfold, akin to Jigsaw in the SAW film series, and it appears they’re responsible for setting up the death traps. It’s all quite sinister, however it’s not the most giving of narratives and so many of the questions you have will go unanswered. Especially when your ally speaks a made up language, limiting communication to mere gestures. That factor in particular hurts any potential bond being made, which lessens the impact of death scenes as you simply won’t care.
Chances are, you will fail a lot and bear witness to the many deadly situations that arise. From rotating pillars covered in spikes and a guillotine, to flesh-eating beetles and electrocution, Last Labyrinth is brutal with its punishments. These moments have clearly been made to be experienced in VR and so any fear of impending doom is minimised without the immersion. And that’s a shame because the deaths are quite creative.
Moving on to the puzzles, and there’s one per room for you to solve. There’s no hand holding whatsoever, hence figuring out the problem is as much of a conundrum as the eventual solution. I like the variety, for you could end up getting Katia to flip levers to safely re-route a toy train set or press buttons to switch all the lights off on a board, akin to the old Lights Out game. Other ideas involve algebraic calculations to balance the scales, a rather dangerous version of Cut the Rope, repeating a series of sounds heard, and more.
In the early stages, completing a single room leads to an ending scene, before being thrown back to the start to tackle a different room. Eventually you’ll reach a point at which a whole host of other rooms are on the agenda, along with more branching routes. This is when the monotony can creep in though, with certain puzzles repeated in order to reach the alternate pathways. Worse than that however, is the overuse of a Japanese chess-like board game.
Dōbutsu Shōgi, also known internationally as ‘Let’s Catch the Lion!’, is a kid’s board game where each player has four tiles – a chick, an elephant, a giraffe, and a lion. Much like chess, they all possess different movement rules and the ultimate aim is to capture the opposition’s lion. If, like me, you’ve no knowledge of it, then you’re in for a painful amount of matches throughout. Not only must you face off against Katia, multiple times, but also the big bad Phantom who’s seemingly orchestrating everything. Once is too much; a best of five for a single encounter is overkill.
Another issue, albeit a slight one, is not always knowing where the laser pointer is aimed before pressing it. Sure, a few puzzles have an indicator on the square or item it’s targeting in order to guide you, but others have you practically guessing; quickly readjusting to suit. There’s a fast-paced section where this is an absolute nightmare and you might need a handful of attempts to succeed. Fortunately, it’s just a small nuisance for the rest.
I feel as though Last Labyrinth -Lucidity Lost- loses its edge without VR and merely becomes a mediocre puzzle game. That’s not to say the puzzles aren’t good, because they are decent tests of your logic for sure. It’s less captivating on the whole however, with the cleverly gruesome death scenes coming across as lacklustre due to them being geared up for folks engrossed via a VR headset. The repetition of certain sections, and the inclusion of a very tedious kid’s board game, simply adds to the disappointment, which then puts you off experiencing every possible ending.
If you want to dive into Last Labyrinth -Lucidity Lost-, then either grab it on the cheap or stick to the VR version.