September 13th 2016 (US), September 16th 2016 (EU)
Publisher / Developer
Idea Factory International / Compile Heart
RPG, Dungeon Crawler
PEGI 12, ESRB T
MeiQ Labyrinth of Death is the latest release from Idea Factory International, the publisher best known to me for releasing a myriad of Neptunia games over the last couple of years. The developer of MeiQ is Compile Heart, the developer behind the Neptunia series, Fairy Fencer F, Omega Quintet, amongst others. MeiQ is part of the “Makai Ichiban Kan” video game project from Compile Heart. This project includes multiple unconnected games, developed as part of Compile Heart’s branding for titles created by their new development team. The first game released as part of this project was Trillion: God of Destruction. MeiQ is available on Vita as both a download and a physical copy.
MeiQ takes place on a stationary planet, and the outcome of the world is at stake, with five girls, Machine Mages, being tasked with conquering dungeons in order to start the planet rotating again. The main character is Estra, but aside from that, you’re unlikely to care much about the story. The game consists of walking around dungeons, located in the towers of Southern Cross, accomplishing quests, levelling up, and running into plot advancing cutscenes. Sadly, it doesn’t take long to stop caring about these cutscenes. When walking around the dungeons, the encounters are few and far between; and when the only excitement is to be found into running into an enemy and defeating, a long and tedious visual novel style cutscene is a detriment to the game.
Occasionally, you’ll pick up a journal entry that provides some backstory, but this is also a rarity; it would have been better if the game focused on this rather than the actual story it followed. As a dungeon crawler, the story is mostly irrelevant, as it’s just to push you to map out those dungeons and get your level up. Unfortunately, MeiQ’s dungeons are a boring chore. The design of the dungeons seems unintuitive and consistently has you walking around in aimlessly to map out dead ends properly.
When battling, you control one or more Mages and their active Guardians, customisable robots assigned to a character. Only one member of each pair can participate in a turn — Mages will be left open to taking a beating if you use them, but Guardians have considerably more hit points so are better for defence. You will need to use a Mage sometimes though, whether to heal, cast status ailments or just because your Guardian is defeated.
Throughout the game, in treasure chests, in the shop, and as drops from battles, you’ll pick up an abundance of seeds, gems, and parts. These can be used by a Mage to increase stats, change encounter rates and manipulate other aspects of the game. Using them with a Guardian can affect how it performs in battle. Their arms and body can be replaced/upgraded; you can use new parts to change their attacks, and even increase the number of attacks available in battle, so you can choose the best parts for different dungeons.
The battles are easily the most enjoyable aspect of MeiQ and were the dungeons themselves not as lacking in thought as they seemed to be, this game would have been significantly more enjoyable. As it is, I don’t see myself coming back to this game any time soon, if ever—a shame as it really could have been brilliant if they’d improved the dungeons.
MeiQ isn't the best Idea Factory International game I've played, but it isn't quite the worst either. It may just be because I'm not as familiar with this type of dungeon crawler as others maybe, but I found my time with it to be tedious, with barely any reward to be found, and my enjoyment itself being sparse and limited solely to the battles. This title may be the first Idea Factory International title I've played and hardly enjoyed, but I still look forward to playing their next title.