System: Switch (eShop)
Release date: August 1, 2019
Developer: Matrix Corporation
Dungeon crawlers have hit a variety of different styles, licenses, and worlds that typically take the player into the underbelly of terrain. These titles set a tone filled with monsters, corridors, and surprises. Some can be totally random with procedural generation techniques that make for a unique playthrough while others can be meticulously crafted to be experienced with an intended sequence of events. Omega Labyrinth Life is in a league of its own due to its relentless onslaught of difficult gameplay while simultaneously lowering the guard of the player through visual stimulation – almost overwhelmingly so. It’s made known right away that Omega Labyrinth Life will be filled from top to bottom with plenty of skin, monsters, dungeons, cup sizes and the like. You’ll have to balance out a healthy education throughout your time as an exchange student while dealing with a horrible evil causing the beautiful flora around to wither and die. Unfortunately, the experience withers along with it because of barebones progression and lack of polish.
On your first day at Bellefleurs Girls’ Academy, main protagonist Hinata Akatsuki is beyond excited to start her brand new journey at the legendary school she’s heard so much about. On the way there, she finds herself a little lost and seemingly in a dungeon of sorts. Hinata continues to walk before hearing an omni-directional voice in her presence. She’s not sure who or what it is, or where it’s even coming from, but she trusts it and continues to walk around the labyrinth in hopes of finding a way out. It’s an easy way for the player to soon get into the tutorial of the game that weaves its way with the narrative, where you’ll begin to learn how to navigate the procedurally generated dungeons, getting acquainted with controls, the menu, and the sort.
A lot of item management will happen throughout Omega Labyrinth Life with its extensive list and modifications to each weapon (like having a ‘+’ at the end of a name indicating a more beneficial version of a similar weapon, known as Luster Value), including armor that essentially presents itself as various types of underwear and lingerie. The stats work effectively the same way that they do in most other games of this nature with the usual resistance, attack, magic, and the like having properties attached to each, also completely at random, so the bras and panties you’ll equip are purely in name only. Visually, the characters don’t change much with what you end up equipping, but this keeps up with the unfortunate theme of having lackluster visuals to begin with for anything that’s 3D-rendered.
Once you reach the academy and make your introductions to the students around you, you’ll be able to somewhat free-roam throughout the campus with a few restrictions. Omega Labyrinth Life, outside of its art, is presented in a chibi style where movement is quick but janky, and with no real regard to the environment around you. You can run through just about anything and it began to bother me that I could stand in the middle of a gigantic porcelain fountain, posing as a lamp post, or becoming one with the bark of a bench. Trees and tables were no match for my physics and chemistry-defying character as you could prove that you can, in fact, make a solid go through another solid. The only things that truly had any type of collision detection was the barrier surrounding the campus itself so the player doesn’t go out of bounds. Any building you interact with you mostly can’t go into and instead are made to be a glorified menu where places like the library, dorm rooms, and kitchen would be for information, rest/saves, and food/replenishment purchases respectively. On campus, you can also tend to the garden to do your best to bring them to life outside of dungeons, while also planting new ones in addition to the existing flowers. You’ll get seeds and nectar through your efforts to help make them bigger and better than before. The greenhouse nearby can also cause characters to learn new skills and attributes.
With an absurd amount of dungeons and each having more floors and quadrants than the last, going in alone is a big mistake, and thankfully as Hinata and the other students try to uncover what’s happening with the withering garden, more of the girls are willing to come along and partner up to help contribute to the revival of the flora, even if they’re not exactly prepared emotionally. Partners you bring along help out and act automatically as they follow you through each section the labyrinths, and each will come with their own stats and specialties. At first they won’t have anything attached to them, so you’ll have to do your best to utilize whatever you find in the dungeons and manage your equipment as you see fit throughout the course of your run. If you have a preference for certain characters or rather utilize certain abilities, you can choose to switch to whoever else is in your party as your primary on the fly, making Hinata auto-attack instead as you control your partner of choice to lead the group.
Omega Labyrinth Life, as stated earlier, is tough, so being a rogue-lite you can expect to lose all of your equipment and progress whenever everyone’s health reaches zero. Thankfully, there are a few ways to alleviate the pain of starting over, with the occasional spa and hot springs you’ll run into in some dungeons that replenish the girls that step in. During these segments, players can get acquainted with the girls in a Senran Kagura-esque fashion, increasing their affection with various pats, caresses, and pokes. It doesn’t really get you anywhere and you’re free to leave at any time with no penalty to a lack of interaction, but considering what the game puts you through, the downtime is appreciated.