Labyrinth still has a long way to go before it’s finished, but as gamers we have become more and more accustomed to the idea that games can be a work in progress and sometimes that can actually be a good thing. It should be taken as a positive sign that developer Free Range Games released a sizable update to their game less than a week after launch. Many of my initial negative remarks in this review have been removed or rewritten in response to this patch.
Labyrinth is an intriguing mix of turn based RPG combat with a card game thrown in for good measure. Character abilities come from a deck of 30 cards giving each party of heroes access to a total of 90 each time they set out to delve into the titular Labyrinth.
There are currently only four heroes to choose from meaning that there is only a limited combination of possible parties to run with, but from these we can gather than each hero will come with cards to choose from specific to them in a way which is similar to classes in Hearthstone. In addition to this the heroes come in four flavours, Faith which deals in healing, spell damage and sometimes both at once; Skullduggery, which deals in stealthy assassination and sabotage of the enemy; Warfare, which is all about hitting things and surviving long enough to hit more things and finally, Wizardry, which allows you to spontaneously combust enemies at a distance, amongst other tricks. Each of these types form a second pool of cards to construct a deck out of shared between heroes of that type. Finally, universal cards can be given to any hero regardless of type.
Once you’ve constructed the decks you want and selected the three heroes you wish to take into the Labyrinth it’s time to play the game. Each level starts with the boss at one end of the room and your party at the other. Around the arena there are runes which identify where additional enemies will spawn when their cards are played so watch your flanks. Since the bosses have their own sets of cards and need to draw them, just as the players do, fights can vary wildly depending on which combination of nasty abilities they pull out of their decks. Every boss has it’s own unique trait as part of it’s own card such as ‘whenever a minion dies deal 3 damage to adjacent enemies’ or ‘when damaged knock back that character a number of squares equal to the damage dealt’, ensuring that there is another layer of complexity to every fight.
In the Labyrinth time is your most important resource, playing cards from your hand requires the sacrifice of ‘ticks’ which determine how long it is before that character’s next turn it. More powerful abilities usually require more ticks of cool down, or they require a ‘wind up’ of a number of ticks before they trigger. However, there are a few catches, locking your character’s ability to take action for too long can give the boss monster plenty of time to summon new minions and allow it to use it’s own powerful wind up abilities unhindered. Perhaps most importantly, the time you spend in every fight drains the precious ticks away from your time in the Labyrinth as a whole and while there are currently only three bosses to fight it may be vital to squeeze every last grain of sand from the hourglass to succeed.
Overall I have enjoyed my brief time with Labyrinth and it is certainly one to look out for. Future features to be added to the game include the ability to create your own Labyrinth of deadly bosses to protect your loot from other players in asynchronous PvP and the promise of more than 8 heroes and 8 bosses to choose from and fight. The game can currently be purchased on Steam for Early Access but is slated for full release in August 2016 as a free to play CCG game supported by purchases of card packs.