Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth Preview – A Mouthful of Metroidvania

Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth, Try saying that ten times fast. Let’s just call it Wonder Labyrinth because there are a few other IPs that carry the Record of Lodoss War label, such as a table-top game, an anime, and even a very obscure Diablo clone on Dreamcast. Wonder Labyrinth it is then.

This particular game is based on a cult hit anime from the early ’90s, also carrying the Lodoss banner, and the inspiration is a bit more direct given some of the character designs. The anime itself isn’t exactly mainstream but can be found on various streaming services. The loose source material alone makes this Metroidvania adventure a rather exciting proposition for genre fans.

Wonder Labyrinth is a Metroidvania adventure as if there weren’t already enough of those bloody things on Steam right now. Just last year, we even saw the release of Bloodstained, which bears the genre creation on the director’s shoulders. Yet, the clones keep on coming, and for the most part, gamers would rather have them than not. I’d even go as far as to say that some of these releases offer a better experience than Bloodstained did for me.

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Yet, Wonder Labyrinth is unapologetically a Symphony of the Night clone. The main character, Deedlit, is basically a female Alucard, although the iconic Castlevania anti-hero was instead stunningly androgynous to begin with. It almost feels like a palette swap, right down to the walking animation. That being said, it’s hard to stay annoyed at the apparent similarities when the controls and mechanics are just… oh so very good.

Wonder Labyrinth has a pretty vague and ambiguous setup, you basically just get underway on an adventure and then slowly piece together the story. This style of narrative is hard to execute without being pretentious, but even in its early stages, Wonder Labyrinth paces the mystery and wonder in a way that doesn’t try to be confusing just for the sake of it. Without giving much away, it’s one of those settings and worlds where the intrigue becomes part of the exploration and game design.

Much like any Metroidvania, Wonder Labyrinth is rife with RPG elements, which include equipment, spells, and experience points to level up. Early sections of the game can be a little harsh given how much damage enemies can dish out per hit, but that’s where some of the grind problematic in most games of the genre can set in. The combat difficulty is undoubtedly not anything along the lines of Hollow Knight, but it’s tough enough to make you hesitant to rush into new areas. Speaking of, Wonder Labyrinth has the same addictive charm of filling up a map with locked doors and optional paths in every section.

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In terms of presentation and art, the game has a style the feels all too familiar, and that can be easy to dismiss, especially with the been-there-done-that enemy designs. Still, even the uninspired art is done rather well, especially with the impressive character sprites. The only thing jarring is the color contrast, which feels a bit too much on the bright side as some of the character models look a bit washed out.

The aspect of the presentation that stuns is the music. Right from the get-go, the epic fantasy orchestra sweeps you in. Unlike most indie game soundtracks, the mix is done exceptionally well, where all the different instruments and arrangements shine through in what is exceptional audio quality.

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Wonder Labyrinth has everything you’d get from Symphony of the Night, with some notable twists of its own. The basic sword attacks are there, but you can also pick up a super handy bow and arrow which play an important role early on to solve environmental puzzles.

You also get acquainted with elemental familiars, which provide new attack styles and abilities that play a part in puzzles. If there’s one thing that prevents Wonder Labyrinth from being an outright Symphony of the Night clone, it’s the organic and satisfying puzzle design.

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Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth ends up being more than just another Metroidvania. It brings back a lesser-known cult classic from both the table-top and anime world to the modern gaming audience that is always hungry for another game, which plays like Symphony of the Night. Given that it is still in development, there’s a lot of fine-tuning that needs to be done, but you can rest assured that this is an adventure to be excited about.

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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!