Labyrinth of Galleria Review

Review: Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society Is a Bonafide Dungeon Crawler

Nippon Ichi Software knows how to twist the formula of a genre, no matter if it’s an SRPG or a first person dungeon crawler. It established this with Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk in 2018. The game completely flew under the radar when it came out, for myself included. It would be a real shame if the same happened with its sequel, Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society, as the game features truly interesting twists on the first person dungeon crawler formula.

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Labyrinth of Galleria follows Eureka de Soleil, a cheerful girl who accepted a job at Galleria Manor. Eureka is tasked by Count Bismont, the owner of the manor, in assisting Madame Marta, a witch under her employment. Eureka and Marta summon Fantie, a spirit attached to the Lanterne de Fantasmagorie, and the role the player fills. Your mission as Fantie is to collect the nine Curios d’art from the labyrinth below Galleria Manor, which are nine extremely rare magical artifacts. This is where the twist comes in. Humans can’t go into the Labyrinth, as the entrance is a Man-eating Wardrobe that kills anyone that dares to try to leave. The solution is simple. Create magical puppet soldiers, called Manania, that will explore and fight for you.

Character creation can be as easy or as complex as you want it to be. The game initially offers six different classes or Facets, such as Aster Crow, Shinomashira, Theatrical Star, Peer Fortress, Wonder Corsair, or Rapid Venator, but these options expand as you play. Each Facet fulfills a particular role as DPS, stunner, support, tank, or jack of all trades. You can only create three characters at the beginning, and you’ll be stuck with a max party of five for roughly the first ten hours of gameplay. Having your choices limited early on can can feel intimidating! However, the game does a great job of introducing plenty of important tutorials that can be revisited from the pause menu. I found this very accommodating, as the early hours of the game can be tough if you go where you’re not supposed to, something very likely to happen due to the open nature of the labyrinth.

On the topic of exploration, the labyrinth and its subsections work as you would expect, with corridors, rooms, and branching paths that can lead to either treasure or ambushes, and eventually progressing further down. You will sometimes encounter a particular area with a gimmick, such as unbreakable walls, or underwater sections where you need to manage your oxygen to keep your party from drowning. Enemies appear in the labyrinth as floating orbs that you can make contact with to initiate combat.

Combat can be hit or miss, as you will often be defaulting to simple attack or auto-battle for regular encounters. Bosses are the main highlight. A balanced party and the use of Donums, this game’s equivalent to magic or skills, is key to solve these encounters. At around the 10-hour mark, the game introduces Pacts. These are particular formations that allow for more than one party member to join a Coven, with a maximum of five Coven slots. This means that you can eventually have a party of up to fifteen characters, three per Coven. However, to achieve a balanced party, the average team will be of around ten characters in different roles and different Pacts.

Labyrinth of Galleria Review

Donum are an interesting twist to a magic or skill system. They are not very straightforward, as far as skills go, as these depend on the Pact a Coven is using. This means that you have to be extra careful in putting your magic users in a Pact with its corresponding magic Donum, and your tanks in a Pact with Donum that increase defense and create aggro. Eventually, you will be able to transfer Donums between Pacts, adding a lot more of decision making to the mix. Liberation skills are special Donum that unleash a special ability unique to the Pact, and they can really save your neck when you really need them.

However, if you want to avoid fighting the same HP-sponge enemies, or are revisiting areas for goodies, there are easy ways to avoid combat. The game offers plenty of tools to deal with both enemies and the environment in the form of Fantiebilities, from lures and traps to bait enemies, to skills that let you break walls or disperse illusions. I particularly enjoyed the Fog Veil ability that allows you to become invisible to combat encounters. This is especially useful when dealing with strong enemies that will pursue you relentlessly.

The labyrinth is an amazing playground full of treasures. Shortly after unlocking the Wall Breaker ability, I was eager to explore all the new possibilities the game offers. Other notable traversal skills include Long Jump, and High Jump, which can be tricky! The spots where you can use them are not obvious unless you use Shine Light to see the usable spots in the map.

Labyrinth of Galleria Review

It was at this point that I felt like the game was a little bit bloated with systems and mechanics. At times, Labyrinth of Galleria became too concerned with teaching me new systems that I never had time to fully utilize or learn. Instead of committing to a handful of these and exploring their full potential, the game keeps throwing new stuff at you, which adds a lot of nuance in decision-making in combat and exploration, but can be distracting. I had a particularly difficult time trying to progress through the main story immediately after I was introduced to High Jump, as I forgot that I could use Shine Light to see which parts of the map had opened.

After hitting certain roadblocks or when completing important objectives, the game will offer a short interlude that progresses the plot. The story is told through short visual novel sections. These are very light and easy to follow, and a nice way to intersperse exploring and fighting in the labyrinth with building its characters, world, and unraveling the mystery of Galleria Manor. The character sprites come from the hand of Takehito Harada, well known for his work illustrating the Disgaea series, and along with the gorgeous background illustrations offers the perfect atmosphere for these interludes. There are plenty of great quality of life options during these sections, too. Arrows indicating which on screen character is talking, one-button voice replays, a text log, and skip options are some of these additions.

Labyrinth of Galleria Review

In terms of accessibility, the game offers a robust and exhaustive settings menu with plenty of options. These range from plenty of audio options, from the regular BGM, sound effects, to activate or deactivate puppet soldier voices, combat speed options, and settings for the visual novel sections. Both the Japanese and the English voiceover are great, but I found the English voice direction particularly charming. Eureka is really sweet and full of pep, while Madame Marta is a cunning and charming witch with a lot of sass, and Count Bismont is a very standoffish and unlikeable noble.

Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society scratches a particular itch I’ve had for a while. While the game starts as standard fare for the genre, it quickly shows that there are a lot of tricks under its sleeves, mainly in exploration and how to tackle diving into the labyrinth. There were times I felt I was playing a puzzle game while I explored the labyrinth, just to suddenly be reminded that this was an RPG with a deep combat system, all surrounded and neatly wrapped by a whimsical and at times scary story, not unlike that of classical fables.

Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society will come out on February 14, 2023 in North America and February 17 in Europe for the PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC via Steam.

8
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society
On the outskirts of town lies a mansion said to house the entrance to a maze overflowing with treasure. Do you wish to discover the magical mysteries hidden inside? Switch version reviewed. Labyrinth of Galleria is an engaging dungeon crawler RPG that lets you use its many systems to get to the bottom of its mystery.
Pros
  • You can unlock an ability to take notes in the map. Make good use of it, as getting lost is far too common.
  • Be sure to to repair doll parts. Gore Critical Hits are awesome but scary. It's worth investing in critical chance for your melee fighters.
  • It might not be the optimal way to play the game, but hypothetically speaking, you can have a party of fifteen cats.

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Author
Daniel Bueno
Daniel is a staff writer and translator from the Spaghetti Western land of Andalusia, Spain. He got his start writing for Xbox Outsider in 2022. His favorite genres are RPGs, survival horrors, and immersive sims. In truth, he is a Dragon Quest slime in a human suit.