The ink-redible Labyrinth of Zangetsu is out today

Up for some super-stylish dungeon-crawling action? The beautifully presented Labyrinth of Zangetsu from PQube and Acquire is out today, bringing us some classic first-person gridder action presented in the style of traditional Japanese “sumi-e” ink artwork.

In Labyrinth of Zangetsu, we join the story in the Ido period, when the world has been blackened beneath the Ink of Ruin. It’s up to you to lead a party of warriors into the tainted labyrinths and purify the land by defeating the deadly youkai.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu

Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a dungeon crawler designed in the traditional style, allowing you to create your own party as you see fit. Pre-built characters are available to use, but you can also completely customise and create your own characters. You can customise statistics, face, alignment and all manner of other aspects of the characters, allowing you to put together the party of your dreams.

The game even launches with a selection of optional cosmetic DLC featuring avatars from other Acquire games, allowing you to bring characters from Akiba’s Trip, Akiba’s Beat, Adventure Academia and Mind Zero into the game. Each pack costs £2.49 and includes 8 new portraits to bring into the game; they don’t confer any gameplay benefits, so they’re just an optional means for fans of Acquire’s output to customise their experience further.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu - Akiba's Trip DLC

Labyrinth of Zangetsu’s monsters are all inspired by traditional Japanese folklore, so enthusiasts of Japanese mythology and history will find plenty to enjoy here as you battle your way through hordes of inky-black monsters. The mostly monochromatic visuals are complemented by splashes of colour such as blue and red, making for a very distinctive-looking experience, particularly in combat.

Battles are turn-based, with party members being split between a front vanguard and a back line of supporting characters. When building your party, you’ll want to assemble a balanced team of adventurers to ensure success in combat — though there’s plenty of flexibility for you to approach this as you see fit, making Labyrinth of Zangetsu a great fit for fans of classic-style dungeon crawlers such as the Wizardry series.

Like most dungeon crawlers, the emphasis here is very much on mechanics, but there is plenty of interesting background lore to discover through the game’s sidequest system. It seems that the Ink of Ruin is not the only threat in the world of Labyrinth of Zangetsu; you’ll discover plenty of other forms of darkness over the course of the various sidequests you can take on as you progress.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu

Acquire has a good pedigree for games like this, both thematically and mechanically. They were responsible for the pioneering Tenchu series of ninja-themed stealth games back in the 32-bit era, which also made heavy use of traditional Japanese imagery; they published the excellent, highly customisable dungeon crawler Class of Heroes on PSP; and they were also responsible for Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls, one of the best “modern Wizardry” titles from after the series went from being a western series to a Japanese one.

In more recent years, we’ve seen games such as the aforementioned Akiba’s Trip, Akiba’s Beat, Adventure Academia and Mind Zero from Acquire, and they also co-developed the two Octopath Traveler games with Square Enix’s Business Division 11. It’s fair to say that while they’re perhaps not a household name in the same way as some bigger outfits in Japanese gaming, they certainly have a very strong track record, both in general and within the genre that Labyrinth of Zangetsu occupies.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu

So with that in mind, today’s a great day to pick up your next great dungeon crawler addiction. Like most dungeon crawlers, Labyrinth of Zangetsu is likely to keep you busy for a good long while — and with its strong degree of customisability, there’s plenty of replay value, too.

So what are you waiting for? Grab it today for PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 or Nintendo Switch. Physical editions are also available for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

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Pete Davison
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