Long after the sun had last set, a group of young Machina Mages are tasked with the mission of delving to the center of the world to turn the key so that the sun may rise once more. Join these mages in their quest, one which will lead through many perils, and one which will lead to them growing close as friends.
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is a first person dungeon crawling turn-based RPG. You take control of Estra, a young Machina Mage who has come to the city to help save the world. Her and four other Machina Mages must climb through various towers in order to gain the approval of various Guardians. These Guardians are key to them proving themselves as being able to handle the task that was set before them. Their path there will be filled with many twists and turns, but ultimately will they be able to turn the key in order to “restart” the world?
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the story in MeiQ is incredibly cliché. Estra, along with the other four Machina Mages, are all female. While this isn’t really a problem as a whole, one thing the game definitely works to emphasize is the fact that none of them are really wearing very much. This ends up heavily falling into the cliché that all that really matters is breast size and not so much the story. After you complete the first tower, you’ll quickly begin to spot a pattern with every single tower that follows. This ends up making the story incredibly dull and not very interesting to follow.
MeiQ plays out primarily as a first person dungeon crawler. You’ll go through the towers in first-person view, exploring along anywhere from 5-12 floors. Travel through these floors is made easier by the fact that you can dash by holding O, and if you hit a corner you will automatically turn and keep moving (given there isn’t multiple ways to go). The thing that makes this an incredible chore is the fact that the floors just aren’t interesting. They are far too large, you’ll spend a lot of time just wandering through open space, and when there is more stuff to do, it just becomes a tedious chore. I played a good chunk of this game during a recent flight I had, and during this time (around 6 hours) I didn’t even make it off of one floor because it became such a chore to keep doing the same thing over and over.
MeiQ’s dungeons don’t really feature “puzzles”. What “puzzles” there are involve needing to kill an enemy over and over again at different points in a room or floor until something opens up. This isn’t fun, it’s just tedious. And given the fact that these maps are too large for their own good without much of interest to really find on them, I found myself bored more than not trying to get to the top.
Combat in MeiQ plays out more like your traditional turn-based RPG. You’ll go to a separate area in which you’ll fight whatever enemy you randomly encountered. You have the ability to have three people in battle, each with a different Guardian equipped. The thing is, battles really aren’t that hard (nor interesting) once you’ve figured out the tricks to them. There are gem-type items you can equip that give you special effects, and some of these will allow your Guardian to attack 1-4 (or 2-4) times with a chosen command. This will pretty much decimate everything.
Bosses become a little bit trickier, and by “a little bit trickier” I mean you’ll need to input a couple more commands. My weapon of choice, figuratively speaking, involved the first three characters you are given along with the best Guardians I could find to match them. I would simply use Berserk with one of my characters, and Berserk would proceed to absolutely decimate everything. This held true all the way until the final boss, although I did have to put a little more thought into the actions at that point. And by “a little more thought” I mean I simply had my character who would normally Berserk her Guardian just use Full Heal anytime I got too low and kept spamming a multi-hit attack. There is a higher difficulty in the game but I never bothered to switch off of Normal mode.
You have the ability to equip both your Guardians and your characters with special gems. As I said, these gems really help with absolutely breaking the game apart. While my characters typically ended up with gems that gave me boosted experience and the like, my Guardians got stat boosting stuff alongside a gem that would allow them to use a skill multiple times in one turn. While there may be an even more intricate system that one could dive into hidden here, simply sticking with gems like Chaos Gem let me just go through the game fairly easily (except for the points I needed to go grind a bit, after which it became easy again).
Along with the gems, Guardians also have the option to equip different body parts. These parts give them abilities they can use in battle. The game does feature a general element system, and so it’s generally a good idea to give Guardians equipment that has skills they have an affinity for. This is indicated with an arrow next to the ability while you’re equipping, with Up arrows being good and Down arrows being bad.
MeiQ does feature a little side quest system for you to do, and all of the items found in these are found as drops off of enemies. Unfortunately, you can only have four-six quests available to you at one time, and nothing new will appear until you’ve completed a certain amount. This can easily result in you getting stuck on the same quests for a good chunk of the game until you decide to go hunt them down. Luckily you can get the items before you actually obtain the quest. You are also able to use an in-game bestiary as a guide for where to find the enemies for these items, but do keep in mind that the bestiary only shows three areas in which you can find them. There can easily be other areas to find these enemies, and I definitely had some points in which I had just decided to move on and found the enemy I needed in the next area anyways.
Graphically, MeiQ is your typical anime-styled RPG title that has an over emphasis on breasts. Sound wise… well, I ended up having my Vita nearly on mute as I got so tired of hearing the same songs over and over again since the dungeons were far too long for their own good. Players do have the ability to switch between the English and Japanese voice tracks, and I found the English voicing to be average. There wasn’t anything spectacular, but as I said I did end up nearly muting my Vita since I had gotten so tired of the music.
Would I recommend MeiQ? I don’t know. It’s an okay dungeon crawler. You definitely won’t find anything nearly as challenging as say Stranger of Sword City, but less experienced RPG fans may find a bit of challenge out of this title. I did find the story to be incredibly predictable (and pretty cliché), and the dungeons were just long and tedious, but at the same time they were a bit too easy. If you’re really wanting to get the game then I’d heavily suggest trying to find it on a big sale, but otherwise it may just be best to pass this one in favour of better dungeon crawlers out there. Have I mentioned that Stranger of Sword City is a pretty good one if you’re looking for a good challenge?
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death Review Score
I would like to thank Idea Factory for providing me with a code for review purposes.