Version Tested: PC
Available On: Windows and Mac
Developer: Free Range Games
Publisher: Free Range Games
Genre: Indie, RPG, Strategy, Early Access
Official Site: Labyrinth
Release Date: Mar 7, 2016
Where to Buy: Steam
“Labyrinth is something like a combination between Hearthstone and Final Fantasy Tactics”
It’s been a really good decade for video games based on trading card games; with games like Hearthstone, and Duel of the Planeswalkers receiving high praise and financial success. This has led to the PC and mobile markets becoming flooded with card-based games looking to cash in on that success. So when I was asked to review the Early Access game Labyrinth I wasn’t sure what to expect. On one hand, I love TCGs such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh, but on the other hand, there are plenty of terrible card-based games out there. So with some slight trepidation, I jumped onto my PC and dove into Labyrinth.
The game is a very early build as part of early access and, it shows. The presentation or rather a lack of one was noticeable in my first few minutes with the game. This is an early build though so I would have been surprised to find anything different. Labyrinth is something like a combination between Hearthstone and Final Fantasy Tactics. With the card collecting, deck building and similar mechanics common to TCGs. What separates Labyrinth from something like Hearthstone though is the way in which these cards are used; on a strategy role-playing game style, grid-based battlefield. That was a mouthful… but it’s an accurate description. In an article on Polygon, Free Range Games CEO, Chris Scholz said “It’s a tactical role-playing game, turn-based, party-movement dungeon crawler. But all of your actions are the cards. You want to swing your sword? You want to buff your dude? You want to throw a fireball? Those are all cards.”
The combat has a slight learning curve to it, but once you get some practice it is pretty well put together. I’m sure that once the game leaves Early Access it will feature some kind of tutorial, and that would be a nice addition. Despite feeling unpolished and unfinished the game still manages to be fun, and I can see it being an instant classic once it gets more polish. Even in its current state the art direction and character designs stand out as unique and high quality. The storyline as presented outside of the game is well written, and it will be nice to see it receive greater incorporation in the game itself over time.
It took me less than an hour to complete the content currently available, which should tell how early of a build this is. There are currently three characters, each with their own unique deck available, and their opponents to face in battle. Free Range Game’s plans to have 16 heroes available by the time Labyrinth launches, although players will begin with only four, one representing each of the game’s core disciplines. So if you are looking for a lengthy experience I would wait away until the game is closer to release and more content is available. What is there was fun, though, and shows a ton of potential. I guess that’s the big takeaway from my time with the game; it has potential. All the pieces are there for an amazing future experience, and I am hoping the developers live up to the promise.
The game already has mostly positive reviews on Steam from those who have played it. There also already seems to be an active community that is providing feedback and helpful information in the game’s forum. In the future when player-vs-player combat is added, I could see Labyrinth becoming very popular.
The big takeaway for me after playing a couple of hours of Labyrinth is that the game is absolutely dripping with potential. If Free Range Games supports this game as fully as they have promised I expect it to be big, very big, and very popular. At this point in the development cycle, though I’d have a hard time recommending the game to anyone other than those that want to support the developer, there just isn’t enough content in the current build. That being said I will be following the growth of this game and I would love the change to come back and review it again once it leaves early access.
- Gameplay: Engaging and addictive gameplay, blends the some of the best elements of TGCs and Tactical RPGs
- Graphics: Character models and card art look great, much more polish on graphical effects than I expected
- Sound: Competent, not particularly amazing but it gets the job done.
- Presentation: Lacks a lot in the area, but that is to be expected from such an early build.
- Fans of TGCs and Tactical RPGs alike will find a fun and engaging experience.
- Developer Free Range Games is very supportive of the game and their customers.
- Very early build lacks both content and polish
- Somewhat steep difficulty