A new entry into the metroidvania genre has sneaked onto Xbox, coming in with one of the most ridiculous titles I’ve seen in recent years. Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is the name of said game from Team Ladybug; a retro styled title that is metroidvania in design. Want to come with me to a world of swords, sorcery and a little light exploring?
Story is always vital in a game like this, and luckily Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, features a character called Deedlit. Now, until I came to do the research for this review, I was unaware that the events of this game are a prequel to one that was previously released – Record of Lodoss War – Diadem of the Covenant. Now, I’ve never played the first game, and luckily, with this being a prequel, this is not a prerequisite. Deedlit, our hero, awakens in a mysterious, unknown place, with no one there to answer her perfectly reasonable questions about where she is and why she is there. What else to do then but go for a wander around? And so the game opens, with Deedlit going for an explore, to see what she can find.
Taking a look at the way Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is presented and we discover this to be a retro styled, almost love letter to the old style Metroid and Castlevania games; just more in line with the 16-bit style versions of the games. The sprites on display, both of Deedlit and the various enemies, are large and very well designed, with a lovely, almost hand drawn look to the levels that you find yourself in. I have to say that the graphical depiction of the action on screen is very well done indeed. The sounds are a lot like you’d expect too, with various monsters making a racket, sword swishes and magic whooshes, and a lovely soundtrack. So, all in all, there’s certainly a great start with the presentation of the game.
Now, exploration and combat are the other two legs of a good metroidvania, and here Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth has you covered. Starting off with the combat side of things, the action has a lot to offer. Deedlit comes with a basic sword swipe attack and the ability to jump, as you’d expect, and as you go on through the labyrinth and kill more enemies, you can not only find more weapons but a variety of attack options as well. These include new little elemental helpers that can bring you more options for exploring and fighting.
The first you find is an air elemental which allows you to hover over gaps, and then a fire elemental that makes the attacks of your sword stronger and so on and so forth. Hunting these things down helps you. In a nice touch, having the fire elemental active (you can swap between them at any time, even in mid air) makes you invulnerable to fire-based attacks, and having the air elemental active makes you able to pass through blue chains and so on. As you use the elementals they level up, ensuring that not only do you get stronger, but they are then also able to heal you when you are injured. However, when you are hit, the elemental you have equipped at the time loses a level, so it pays to be cautious. Having the fire elemental equipped and defeating enemies increases the level of the air elemental, and vice versa, so you can always make sure everyone is up to top level.
You can also find and unlock a bow, and magic attacks, so this will give you more options when it comes to combat instead of just standing on the enemy’s toes and poking them with a pointy bit of metal. Some opponents are only vulnerable to certain attacks and so learning the enemies and what they are weak to is a big part of the game. Bosses also feature with alarming regularity, and while they aren’t that difficult once you suss out the patterns, they do require you to lean forward a bit and concentrate.
Now, being a metroidvania type title, you’d expect Deedlit to pick new abilities as she goes, and you’d be dead right. Every now and then, as you explore, you’ll come to a section that you can’t get past, be that because the jump is too high, or a corridor is too narrow and so on. Luckily, exploring in other directions lets you find various upgrades, and with a handy fast travel mechanic in operation, it never takes too long to get back to the previous dead end and bypass it. Exploration, combat, gameplay and controls are all a big plus point here, as is the proper old school difficulty: if you die, it’s game over – no ifs, no buts, and back you go to the last save statue you passed. Make it a habit to detour to one of these points frequently is my top tip.
Even knowing nothing about the previous games or the anime series, Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is still hugely enjoyable. It is the right kind of hard, with exploration and experimentation combat bringing rewards; so much so that the more you throw into it, the more enjoyable the time you will have.
Basically put, if you like a metroidvania title, give Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth a try. And even if you don’t, it’s well worth a look.
Record of Lodoss War – Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is available from the Xbox Store