Stylish sumi-e dungeon crawler Labyrinth of Zangetsu gets a release date

PQube and Acquire have been quietly beavering away on a promising-looking, immensely stylish dungeon crawler named Labyrinth of Zangetsu for some time now, and they’re finally ready to announce a release date: April 20, 2023. The game will be available for Windows PC via Steam, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch.

In Labyrinth of Zangetsu, the world has been blighted by the “Ink of Ruin”, and as always seems to be the case in situations like this, it’s up to you to sort things out by assembling a party of warriors, delving into the local dungeons and kicking the snot out of anything that gets in your way.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu is specifically inspired by the Japanese “sumi-e” ink painting style, giving it a very distinctive, mostly monochromatic, high-contrast look. At the same time, elements of modern anime-style design have been incorporated into the characters to provide a pleasing blend between the traditional and the current.

The dungeons are designed to gradually reveal their scenery as you progress around, and rather than adopting the same tileset for and entire stage, have been designed in such a way that they look like more convincing, realistic environments than other examples of the genre. Many traditional Japanese architectural features such as torii gates are incorporated into the design of the dungeons, and your mission will take you through a variety of different locales both above and below ground.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu

The art style isn’t the only traditional aspect to Labyrinth of Zangetsu. The game also features a variety of Japanese youkai and other beasts based on Japanese folklore, so enthusiasts of the many and varied tales from traditional Japanese culture will doubtless enjoy playing “spot the reference”. Or perhaps more accurately, “spot the terrifying, slobbering monster”.

The music, too, features elements of traditional Japanese music and authentic instrumentation, giving the whole experience a thoroughly immersive and highly distinctive look, sound and feel to it. There really is nothing quite like it.

Gameplay-wise, Labyrinth of Zangetsu allows you to either pick predefined playable characters for your party, or to create your own custom heroes with unique stats and abilities. In this way, both dungeon crawler newbies and seasoned gridder veterans will be able to tailor the experience to their own preferences, either levelling up a character that has been designed to be well-balanced, or perhaps taking a risk with a more unusual custom design.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu

Labyrinth of Zangetsu’s combat unfolds in a turn-based fashion, with your characters split into a two-row formation. Frontline fighters can deal close-up damage and tank incoming damage, while back-line combatants can make use of ranged attack abilities and support the party in various ways. It’s business as usual for the dungeon crawler genre, in other words — though when combined with the custom playable characters and the distinctive art style, Labyrinth of Zangetsu has an overall aesthetic and feel that is all its own.

As you progress through the game, there is both a main storyline to advance plus a number of sidequests to explore, with an emotionally engaging yet rather bleak tone throughout allowing you to both celebrate your successes and reflect upon your losses.

Collectors will be pleased to note that Labyrinth of Zangetsu will have physical releases for both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and at the time of writing these are available for preorder from our pals at Funstock.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu is looking immensely promising, and there’s not long to wait until we get to experience it for ourselves. Watch out for it on April 20, 2023 for Windows PC via Steam, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4, and don’t let the youkai get you in the meantime!

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Pete Davison
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