Hey guys, I know it’s been quite a while since my last post, and I am sorry about that. On the upside, thanks to these ridiculous Steam sales, I now have a nice backlog of games to work through, which should give me quite a bit to work with, even if we’re going to be talking about a much older game today. But first, a quick update as to whats going to be happening. First, I’m reinstating my goal of at least two posts a week, aiming for one Tuesday and one Thursday. That’s just the minimum, so more content could easily be put out in any given week, so look forward to that. Second is, sadly, a hiatus on the Dark Souls LP. I don’t feel comfortable putting up that quality of work, and you guys deserve better. I’ll be trying a few things to get it back up, but right now the videos are atrocious. The color distortion and quality of the video just don’t do the game justice, and make it hard to see what I’m doing (or picking up), which just isn’t right for a Let’s Play. I have more recorded content (Catacombs and Gravelord Covenant), and may put that up since it’s already sitting on my computer, but anything more is suspended until the recording quality improves. So, again, my apologies if you enjoyed that content, and hopefully it will be back and better than ever soon. Now then, with those out-of-the-way, let’s get started with a game I actually rather enjoy.

Labyrinth of Touhou is an indie game (based itself on the indie Touhou Project) dungeon crawler that has an utterly massive cast of recruit-able characters, some nice and witty writing, and an exceedingly fun, strategic combat system. unfortunately, it also has a lot of bad to go along with the good. We’ll be focusing on the bad, but don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. If you like the Touhou Project and dungeon crawlers, give this a go. It’s a lot of fun, despite the vitriol I’m about to start slinging.

As a minor complaints is that while the writing is really good, there really just isn’t enough of it. Characters often speak in the early levels to explain certain mechanics and event flags (while also usually shattering the fourth wall), but rarely talk in the later levels outside of encountering another character or moving to a new floor. Some events trigger conversations, but the game could use a little more dialog, especially since it’s gone out-of-the-way to create consistent characters that are actually fairly in-line with what the canon (little of it there is) portrays them as, and taking a few liberties elsewhere. Ordinarily I’d nitpick character traits or personalities, but I do enjoy how the game works. Now that my one true nitpick is done with, we’re moving on to the things that really boil my blood.

The fourth wall won't last much longer.

The first major thing that annoys me is how the game handles spells in the system. Once you recruit a character, you can look at the list they have either in the party or back at the main hub, and get a good look, because that’s all you’ll ever get. Characters never learn new abilities or spells with level ups, and instead only gain stat boosts, with the player having a point or two to throw where they like. Now, for some characters, this isn’t really much of a problem. Reimu for example starts with a nice selection of spells, proving early game damage while transitioning into a more support role and you gather more and more characters. In her list of skills are; single target magic hit, multi-target hit with a chance to stun anything damaged, a bigger multi-hit with no stun component, a group heal, and a group defensive buff. All of these skills are open at level 1 on-wards, but some won’t be available until later in the game because they cost more mana than you can possibly start with. Yeah, you have skills you can’t use, because your mana pool isn’t big enough, and this is a recurring theme until you get out of the first couple levels and get a few levels.  Still, that’s 5 skills right off the bat that are diverse and fun to use.

Another character you start with, Remilia, has two. One is a single-target nuke (that sharply begins to drop off unless you play her as a damage character) that is fairly cheap, the other is an extremely good self-buff that has a chance of utterly crippling Remilia and making her borderline useless as anything besides a lunk of HP to take some damage. Isn’t that what a tank does? Well, yes, but tanks  usually don’t routinely poison and paralyze themselves to do it. And those two skills are the only ones you will ever get for Remilia, no amount of leveling will ever unlock more, no event will bestow anything else, no character additions add to her repertoire. Guess who was the first character I replaced once more useful tanks started to come around. All characters have this problem, and some, like Reimu above, can scrape by having a fun little kit of spells, but others wind up in the same position as Remilia without having anything to bring to the table.

Pictured: One of the only two skills you'll ever see her do.

The second problem is one I’ve touched on before, and by god is it a pain in this game. Grinding is massively pervasive, often times requiring a good chunk being spent just running back and forth and butchering everything stupid enough to attack you. The problem is only exacerbated by having a ‘TP’ meter, which measures how much a character wants to stay and help. Once that ticks down to ‘0’, the character will literally abandon you and go back to the hub, until you leave the dungeon and go home, resetting everyone’s TP to max. Even worse, not all characters have the same amount, so you can be loosing people left and right on the later levels as you are just trying to explore. You can upgrade an individual’s TP in the stat boost screen, but buying a single point is often insanely expensive, easily taking what could be two or three points in any other stat. As a personal problem, some of the later boss require grinding out levels just to even stand a chance, which I disagree with. If you take your time and explore, you should have fought enough by then to have a chance at the boss. The boss should damn well be hard, but it shouldn’t be unbeatable until you have an arbitrary number of levels under your belt.

At least the levels are fun to explore though.

So, despite how much I like this game, it ultimately failed to really captivate me. The fact that characters have literally no progression outside of stats and no way to gain additional abilities makes me very sad, because I feel like there was a missed opportunity there. Seriously, all of the characters have at least 6 or 7 spells in the main game, why not take some of those and award them for leveling? It would also make the grinding for levels more interesting, because you would have a clear, defined goal. Reach level 25 (or whatever) and unlock ‘Scarlet Gensokyo‘ for Remilia. Both issues taken care of in a fun way, and one that would have had me grinding non-stop to reach a high level and take all the spells for my own use. As it is, the two problems just stand to hold down an otherwise fun game.