In Lapis x Labyrinth, players are on a constant quest to improve themselves. It is a loot-driven game. Every run of course means more experience, but it also means new kinds of equipment and more money. But, there is also a time limit involved. So delving in becomes about finding out tricks that work for your party, repeatedly going into quests to try and build yourself up, and knowing when you can take the time to explore and possibly find even better treasures.
Initially, Lapis x Labyrinth’s stages begin as rather straightforward affairs. People are plopped into a 2D dungeon with their party, which is represented by one lead adventurer and up to three Dango supplemental characters that determine how many times you can jump and provide additional support with various attacks and skills. Enemies will pop up, appearing either naturally or with hordes being triggered by stepping into certain areas. It is very much a hack-and-slash game where combos quickly rack up, numbers fly across the screen showing damage, and you eventually end up building up gauges enough to trigger combos or pull in your supporting party members for different offensive or defensive skills to aid in the quest.
As you go through, a timer constantly ticks down in the upper right corner. You begin with five minutes and have a general idea of how many areas you need to go through before you reach the boss and finish the mission you are on. The danger level increases the further you go. However, as in the more recent Persona installments, dawdling can mean death. When time runs out, an ominous spirit that can kill your entire party in one hit appears. It means there is a sense of pressure. Do you continue investigating new routes and attempting to reach that treasure chest you can see in a corner, but can’t reach? Or do you follow the arrow directing you to the teleporter that will take you to the next area and bring you one step closer to accomplishing your goals?
Making that decision may be made easier by knowing how Lapis x Labyrinth doles out its rewards. As someone goes through the stages, Fever gems can be acquired. Gems go flying everywhere, offering beneficial status effects and perhaps meaning more gold and treasure for players. Fever slots trigger, resulting in more rewards. Blocks suddenly glow and can be hit, providing different bonuses. Everything is colorful and flashing, alive with the promise of more of the material gains that show you accomplished something and the run was a success.
Once you reach the boss area and complete a mission could lead to the most rewarding and satisfying portions of all. After defeating bosses and the minions accompanying them, treasure chests appear. This gives you your final rewards, before taking you to a screen letting you know how well you performed. Spending more time exploring, defeating foes, and racking up points is to your benefit. It means higher scores, perhaps even that elusive SSS rank. You get to choose which sorts of weapons, equipment, and artifacts you may have earned, with Lapis x Labyrinth giving you three chests with a vague description of what could be inside for you to choose from. Your guild rank will level up, increase the cap on equipment points and allowing you to take in more (and more powerful) items on additional runs.
There is a loot loop in effect. Lapis x Labyrinth gives you a starting foundation. You have a chance to begin building things up. Once you go through one run, you get the experience and maybe enough tools to make a second run more manageable. Perhaps after a few rounds, you could feel secure enough to go into a stage enough times and explore every nook and cranny, knowing you can outrun death and be done before the five minutes is up. It’s about constant preparation in the hopes of greater acquisitions.
Lapis x Labyrinth will come to the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 in North America on May 28, 2019, in Europe on May 31, 2019, and in Australia on June 7, 2019. It is immediately available in Japan.