Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is a Metroidvania from Team Ladybug, the development team behind other pixelated fan games of various IPs such as Konosuba: The Resurrection of Beldia and Touhou: Luna Nights, that was released as an early access title on March 12th. In recent years, many new games in the Metroidvania genre have come out to positive reception. Games such as 2017’s Hollow Knight, 2018’s The Messenger, and 2019’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night have captivated audiences with their unique combination of exploration, platforming, and RPG elements. What sets Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth apart from its contemporaries and does it have enough to be a classic?
Record of Lodoss War is a multimedia franchise that started as a set of novels written by Ryo Mizuno in 1988. The franchise was heavily influenced by Mizuno’s Dungeons & Dragons play sessions and gained popularity in the west through the OVA released in 1990. Lodoss War recounts the story of a land called Forcelia and follows the protagonist Parn and his party of adventures. One of his party members is a high elf named Deedlit who also serves as Parn’s romantic interest and is the protagonist of Team Ladybug’s newest title.
Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth was originally announced in April 2018. The project was mostly worked on in secret, until this past February when an early access trailer showing off most of the game’s mechanics was released. As can be seen from the trailer, the game’s graphics take inspiration from classic Playstation titles like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The game’s sprite work is highly detailed and the settings are gorgeously rendered, giving the game a remarkably beautiful art style.
The story of Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth involves Deedlit waking up in an unknown dungeon, with no knowledge of how she got there. As she traverses forward, she runs into a mirage of Parn which quickly disappears in front of her. This simple setup gives enough incentive for her to explore the labyrinth and figure out its secrets.
Multiple mechanics help Deedlit along the way. Deedlit has the ability to switch elemental spirits that augment her powers, with her finding Sylph the wind elemental right in the beginning of the game. This allows her to hover and double jump. She later acquires Salamander the fire elemental, which imbues her attacks with fire and allows her to blow up explosive barrels that block the path to certain areas. These different elementals also give her immunity to the same element, which is necessary to pass through elemental gates and certain enemy’s attacks.
Enemies are the typical fantasy fare such as giant bats, goblins, golems, and imps. To fight them off, Deedlit starts the game with a sword she can swing in 8 directions, a mechanic that was a big selling point for Super Castlevania IV. Enemies will also drop new weapons such as knives, spears, and axes, all of which have their own unique properties. Unwanted weapons can be sold off to Ghim the dwarf — another member of Parn’s party who serves as the game’s merchant. It seems Deedlit will also be able to learn a variety of spells, though only one exists in the game’s current early access form. The most unique weapon in Deedlit’s arsenal is her bow, which she can freely aim and fire whichever way she wants. She can also ricochet the arrows off metallic surfaces to attack enemies from specific angles, or to solve various puzzles.
The two biggest challenges in the game currently are the two bosses — Abram the giant sea serpent, and Deedlit’s dark elf counterpart Pirotess. Abram’s fight requires quick switching of elementals to avoid the wind and fire gates he shoots, making it feel like bullet hell at times. Pirotess’s fight will force the player to utilize everything in their arsenal, as the dark elf plays the role of the rival character with the same powers as the player. Perhaps in the final game, there will be multiple encounters with Pirotess as she acquires new abilities and moves on par with the player. These boss fights are extremely creative and the utility of the game’s mechanics is far more intuitive than the usual Metroidvania boss that often ends up being a damage sponge.
Unfortunately, since Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is in early access, the amount of content is very limited. The entire game’s layout at the time can be explored in around an hour, while the usual playtime for Metroidvanias can often last from 40 to even 100 hours. It is worrying, since Team Ladybug’s prior games were also fairly short. Yet, much like with their other projects, the quality of the graphics and fanservice truly show the team’s respect for the Lodoss franchise and their motivation to deliver a quality final product. Hopefully, since the game was first announced in April 2018, it means the game has spent a much longer time in development and the final game will have a substantial amount of value. Already the hour’s worth of content in the early access has a good amount of variety and depth. Most likely the final release will feature many new weapons, spells, elementals, and creative boss fights.
Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is available on Steam in early access for $12.99.