I’ve been a fan of Record of Lodoss War for years. I remember watching the OVA during a time I was still testing the waters of RPGs on the Super Nintendo. It literally felt like I was watching an RPG. There were swords, sorcery, monsters, kingdoms, elves, dwarves, and more necessities that further solidified my taste as an RPG fan, and as a fan of high fantasy. While I didn’t care for Chronicles of the Heroic Knight or the Diablo-style game on the Dreamcast, my opinion of Lodoss remains high. Obviously, I was curious about the latest game in the franchise: a Metroidvania that starred the heroine of the series. Deedlit has always been a fan favorite so I was eager to see what her own adventure had in store. The result was something far, far beyond my expectations. I haven’t had this much fun with a game like this since Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. I didn’t want Deedlit’s adventure in the Wonder Labyrinth to end. In fact, it’s short play time is the game’s biggest negative.
Deedlit’s adventure begins as many do: the high elf wakes up in a strange and bizarre world. She has no idea how she got there or what she was doing before she awoke. She has no access to any of her spells, either. As she explores her surroundings, she finds monsters ready to put a stop to her exploration. Deedlit makes short work of the enemies, but in doing so, she discovers she’s able to wield weapons unfamiliar to her. It doesn’t take long for her to encounter Karla, the grey witch that pulled the strings of Lodoss from behind the scenes. Karla informs Deedlit that she has to press onward if she wants to learn the truth regarding why she was brought to this labyrinth.
Seeing Deedlit getting more characterization is great, and the icing on the cake is getting to reconnect with old friends from the series such as Ghim and Slayn. Unfortunately, the purpose of the labyrinth and how Deedlit got there isn’t revealed until moments before the credits roll. Every story point leads to more unanswered questions. It’s not a major issue, but some answers would have been appreciated right before the final boss encounter.
Deedlit starts her journey with a rapier. That’s it. Luckily it doesn’t take long for her to get some additional tools in her arsenal to aid her journey. The most notable are the new types of weapons she’s not familiar with. There’s a massive variety of weapon types available from both monster drops and the shops scattered throughout the map. It’s easy to find a weapon type that suits your playstyle since the variety is so vast. To add, she’ll gain access to a bow and arrow that’s used for both solving puzzles and peppering her enemies. My favorite way to dispose of enemies is with magic. Deedlit will discover a variety of elemental spells that can wreak absolute havoc on her enemies. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Metroidvania if there weren’t unlockable techniques such as a double-jump and the ability to breathe underwater. As always, it’s fun to go back to older areas to discover what lies behind an obstacle that was previously inaccessible.
One aspect of Wonder Labyrinth that separates it from other Metroidvanias is very important. During the start of her adventure, Deedlit will encounter two elemental spirits: Sylph and Salamander. Sylph is the spirit of wind and allows her to hover slightly above ground. Salamander, the spirit of fire, gives her the ability to walk in molten lava. Players can alternate between the two spirits with the push of a button. Eventually, they’ll need to adapt to changing between the spirits at rapid speed. The majority of the game’s traps are elemental chains that can only be passed through with one of the elementals enabled. To add, some enemies are immune to fire or wind attacks. You’ll need to get into the habit of quickly switching between the two so Deedlit’s melee strikes and arrows damage her foes. This is especially important in boss fights that, at times, feel like a shoot ’em up since their attacks consist of projectiles that come at her with high velocity. A neat feature is that her spirit friends can grow in power and level. Defeated enemies drop elemental cubes that power up their strength. At their highest level, Deedlit’s melee attacks will deal higher damage and she’ll gain energy regeneration. Deedlit doesn’t have any armor, so having the ability to regain hit points automatically (outside of item usage) is a major boon.
From the start, it’s clear that a generous amount of love was put into the game’s graphical details. This game is stunning. Deedlit’s movements. Enemy and level design. Special effects. Boss encounters. Everything in Wonder Labyrinth is a visual feast from the moment you start the game. Stopping and staring (when the action slows down) is like a rite of passage because there’s so much beauty to take in. The music is impressive, too. Every area has a catchy track that fits the Metroidvania vibe, yet also fits the vibe of the game’s Lodoss setting.
The game does so much right that it makes reaching the ending bittersweet. While it’s always nice to finish a game and watch the credits roll, I wasn’t ready for Deedlit’s adventure to be over. Nine hours wasn’t enough. I wanted more. Of course, I’ll play the game again but nothing will recapture the magic of the first time through. As is typical with these types of games, there are some new game plus features and a boss rush mode. Obviously, I highly recommend this game. It’s excellent even if you’re unfamiliar with Record of Lodoss War. I played a lot of Metroidvanias but this one kept surprising me. It’s on the shorter side, but the journey is still worth experiencing.
Overall, 9/10: Deedlit’s adventure in the Wonder Labyrinth is almost the perfect Metroidvania. Similar to Parn’s adventure, I wasn’t ready for Deedlit’s adventure to be over.