Beyond Co-op Review - Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth
Review by: Paul Acevedo
Record of Lodoss War is an early 1990s anime, manga, and novel series based on a Japanese pen-and-paper RPG session. The anime is fondly remembered as a rare example of serious Lords of the Rings-style fantasy in the medium as well as for its gorgeous artwork and iconic characters. One such character is Deedlit the elf, who now stars in her own Metroidvania game from Team Ladybug and Playism. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth initially launched on Steam Early Access before eventually launching in full on both consoles and PC.
As the game opens, Deedlit awakens in the mysterious Wonder Labyrinth. She has no memory of how she got there. Before long, she begins to encounter characters from the original OVA series, though they mostly utter cryptic hints before running away. The mystery of where Deedlit is and what has happened to her friends (and even enemies) propels this Metroidvania platformer. You don’t need to have seen the anime or read the books to enjoy the game, but you’ll get more out of the story if you’re familiar with the property.
Metroidvanias generally owe a lot to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and few games draw as much obvious inspiration from Konami’s masterpiece as Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth. The sprites look just like those of SOTN (right down to the colored trail that follows the protagonist), which isn’t exactly a bad thing. Gameplay initially feels a lot like SOTN, but it diverges before too long. For instance, Deedlit isn’t limited to just swords and other melee weapons; she specializes in bows as well. Arrows hurt enemies, but they’re also essential for solving puzzles. Many rooms and hallways contain switches that can only be triggered by reflecting arrows in just the right way. These arrow puzzles are fun, though perhaps too numerous for their own good.
The biggest difference between Wonder Labyrinth and SOTN is the Ikaruga-like spirit system. Deedlit soon acquires both wind and fire spirits that imbue her with special powers. The wind spirit lets her float across gaps and even hover in the air. The fire spirit makes Deedlit invulnerable while sliding. These spirits also imbue our heroine’s attacks with elemental properties. Some enemies resist fire, some resist wind. Obstacles and enemy attacks often share one of the two elements as well. By switching to a matching element on the fly, Deedlit can avoid harm from these threats. The system takes a little getting used to, but it’s both rewarding and essential for surviving boss fights.
Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is a bit short and easy as Metroidvanias go, though that’s hardly a problem. Exploring the labyrinth and uncovering its mysteries while collecting upgrades for Deedlit offers just as good a time as one would hope. While beating the game only takes about 10 hours, collecting all of the weapons, uncovering the full map, and completing the unlockable boss rush (all of which have Achievements) will extend the experience for dedicated players. I’d have loved a bigger-budget game (with voice acting) set during the original “Grey Witch” saga depicted by the anime, but Wonder Labyrinth serves as a surprising and welcome follow-up to that saga.
Our Rating: 4 out of 5