By: Brian Gunn
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is the latest dungeon crawler from Idea Factory and Compile Heart. It became a title notable in the west for the seemingly odd decision that Australia refused to rate the game, effectively banning it. Was it worth all the hubbub, or does it fail to make an impression?
MeiQ is a simple grid-based first-person dungeon crawler, and it controls like all of them. You’ll be trudging through areas to find treasure, traps and, of course, random battles. These battles do stand out a bit from genre contemporaries by featuring 3D models rather than 2D ones or using a first-person perspective.
Realistically, however, all they’ve really done is staple traditional JRPG battles onto a dungeon crawler. Still, there’s a variety of tweaks to make the user experience better, like dashing, auto-turning, fast forwarding and even auto-battling for facing enemies that aren’t worth strategizing for.
This may come as a shock to you, but MeiQ is a JRPG that heavily focuses on pretty anime girls. That’s rare for the Vita, right? Anyway, for the most part, your appreciation for the visuals will depend on your tolerance for cheesecake. Nearly everyone is a buxom women spilling out of her dress. Dungeon designs are bland, and the battles feature 3D models that look like they’re from the PS2 era.
There are a few decent songs but many are irritating. One in particular repeats a lot, particularly when the cast is doing something silly, which is often. There are English and Japanese language options, and both casts are serviceable. Everyone’s playing a stereotype so the voice in your head for the brash redhead that doesn’t play by the rules is probably close to what the game delivers.
MeiQ is set in a world that has apparently become so advanced that technology has taken on nearly magical properties. You play as a party of Machina Mages that are sent to restart the world, something that apparently has to happen at specific intervals. So while the world is mostly draped in typical fantasy stuff, you’ll acquire Guardians that are basically robots to help in battle.
Battles are fought mainly through these Guardians, which you can collect and customize, adding an almost Pokémon like appeal to things, albeit much more limited in number. There’s a relatively simple elemental weakness and resistance table to exploit, though the game rarely gets challenging and is especially slow at the beginning.
One area the game does well is allowing you to customize characters and Guardians a decent amount. You’ll quickly get sword, guns, fists, etc to bolt on to your guardian to make it your own.
MeiQ is notably story heavy for the genre, but it’s not a particularly good one. You start off with just your lead character, an Earth Machina Mage, and slowly convince the others to eventually join forces instead of compete with you.
These characters are all pretty broad caricatures and are hard to get invested in. And given the overly sexualized nature of the game, the one little girl character in a chest-baring dress feels like a pretty questionable addition to the cast.
There are side quests inside the town hub, but they are all a bunch of dull fetch quests that you’ll likely have the item for before you even accept it. A crafting system involving the Guardian parts is present as well, though given the game’s lack of difficulty I found myself rarely using it and just sticking with found parts.
MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death is a simple game featuring a bland story, and chances are if you’re into dungeon crawlers featuring anime waifus you probably already bought this. If not, well, there are certainly better options out there.