Compile Heart and Idea Factory have been showing the PlayStation Vita lots of love lately, supporting the handheld with numerous games in the Neptunia series, as well as the otome (and one of this month’s PS Plus titles) Amnesia: Memories.
Their upcoming dungeon crawler RPG MeiQ: The Labyrinth of Death hits the Vita the 13th of this month, and it comes highly recommended after spending roughly five hours with it over Labor Day weekend.
In MeiQ the planet has stopped spinning, as it tends to do every couple hundred years. To prevent the world from plunging in to darkness, a group of five Machina Mages must set off to locate the Planet Key and give it a good turn. Of course there’s a catch, as only one of them can actually turn it and whoever does so becomes the new head of the Machina Mages back at the town of Southern Cross.
At its core is your typical dungeon crawler, navigating a series of environments in first-person while battling enemies and leveling up your cast of characters, but MeiQ: The Labyrinth of Death has one of the best hooks I’ve seen yet — mech building!
Each Machina Mage is assigned their own Guardian, who can act in place of the Mage during combat. While the Mages are well versed in magic, like earth powered arrows and restoration spells, they’re highly vulnerable to damage and are best used in the background to keep their Guardian in fighting shape.
Only one of them can attack per turn though, so there’s a fair amount of strategy in knowing when to take cheap shots with your Mage and when to let your robotic companion stand front and center. Most of my time thus far has been spent using the Guardian, delegating the main protagonist Estra to restoration duty and her handy Escape Dungeon spell.
Guardians can be customized by finding, crafting, and upgrading various parts, like arms, a body, and a core that acts as a type of Materia slot for power crystals. These crystals can provide passive stat boosts, increase magical damage, or do non-boring things like allow you to use every attack at your disposal in one turn. Each arm unlocks its own set of abilities, like sword slashes or water jets, which change as you unearth more parts during your playthrough.
While the Mages themselves are nothing more than overly busty anime tropes at this point, and the story doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, customizing Guardians and trying to make them as overpowered as possible has been a considerable amount of fun thus far.
I mentioned Materia earlier, and this reminds me of trying to find ridiculous combinations in Final Fantasy VII or creating nasty class combos in Final Fantasy Tactics.
The folks at Idea Factory have released three story trailers leading up to the game’s release next Tuesday (Friday, if you’re in EU), which you can check out below.
MeiQ: The Labyrinth of Death will run $39.99 here in the States and is currently exclusive to the PlayStation Vita. I’ve been provided early access to the game by Idea Factory and will likely have a more in-depth review ready when I complete it, or feel I’ve seen enough to know the game is no longer evolving.
Considering how much fun I’m having, I strongly doubt it’ll be the latter.