Need to Know
What is it? A bite-sized, 2D pixel art metroidvania.
Expect to pay: $20/£15.49
Developer: Why so Serious?, Team Ladybug
Publisher: Why so Serious?, Playism
Reviewed on: Windows 10, AMD FX 8350 Eight-Core, Radeon RX 580, 24GB RAM
Link: Steam (opens in new tab)
If you’re unfamiliar with the D&D-adjacent Record of Lodoss War novels, tabletop RPG, and anime from the ’80s and ’90s, Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth will remain mostly incomprehensible until the end. The story airdrops in characters such as Parm (Deedlit’s lover), Pirotess (Deedlit’s rival), and Ashram (a big bad evil guy), and working out their relationships is something like starting Wandavision at episode nine without ever having seen a Marvel movie. Later, Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth mirrors Wandavision’s exploration of grief, and that should make sense to anyone.
Non-fans don’t need to worry too much about following the story, though. The metroidvania genre traditionally values exploring 2D dungeons over cohesive narrative, and Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is no exception. It checks all the familiar metroidvania boxes, though its shortness and lack of difficulty left me wanting.
(Image credit: Why So Serious?/Playism)
Spells, weapons, bows, and a select few additional power-ups are found by exploring the various paths and secrets of the dungeon—a staple of the genre. Wonder Labyrinth nails the vertical shafts and winding corridors that create the traditional Castlevania-like experience (minus the breakable chandeliers), but after exploring the map to 100 percent, I don’t recall finding a single secret. I’m trained to search for false walls and secret paths in every room, but didn’t find anything remotely hidden or devious in Wonder Labyrinth.
Most metroidvanias encourage backtracking by unlocking new abilities, but Wonder Labyrinth is far more linear, ushering me to each area one after another. Instead of acquiring new traversal powers, defeating the boss of each stage simply unlocks a new set of colored doors, which opens the next area (and perhaps a single door in a previous area I can now access). The only exceptions are acquiring a double and triple jump, but their critical applications are disappointingly limited.
Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is a brief but fun foray into a well-worn genre. The mode-swapping and elemental attacks are enjoyable, but the game is over just when it starts to reach a proper crescendo, with 100 percent of the map revealed (and presumably all the gear and spells) in under six hours. Not quit a full symphony, but a fun little ensemble.