When people think of Nippon Ichi Software (NIS), it’s typically Disgaea, or one of the games in the same general universe. However, some of the less talked about titles stand out in their own way, with none more so than Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk. The fairly typical dungeon crawler offered a narrative journey that was entertaining from start to finish. With the follow up, Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society, focusing on a new set of characters and problems, will it be another success, or was it better left as a stand alone?
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society begins with a rather simple concept. The story centers on Eureka, a determined young girl that tries to do her best, working with the mysterious witch known as Madame Martha. The two of you are contracted by an eccentric Count to collect specific artifacts hidden in a labyrinth below known as Curios. Of the large collection, the Count is specifically looking for the nine Curio d’arts for an unknown reason.
The Start of Something Big
While this is the initial premise, the first couple of hours are closer to a murder mystery. Every character is off in one way or another, making it easy to suspect them of something. It’s an interesting choice, one that is likely directed at players familiar with NIS’ other titles. For those unfamiliar, most of those games, be it The Cruel King and the Great Hero, or The Witch and the Hundred Knight, start sweet before turning dark. By making the intention known, it allows the story to play with player’s expectations.
Even if nothing happens, there are enough clues to start trying to guess where this is heading. Is the Count trying to collect the Curios for nefarious purposes; what is the deal with the reporter; is there more to the maid, and so forth are just some of the questions you might find yourself asking. Without getting into the specifics, the story is significantly more complicated, and deep than you might think after even 10 hours of play. This, unfortunately, links to one of the most divisive elements with Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society, length.
This is an adventure where you could easily put in 90 hours and still not reach the end of the main narrative. It’s a massive commitment, with most of the answers being located towards the end. Despite the substantial time investment, I would say it’s the most engaging game narrative I’ve played in the past 13 or so months. There is just so much to see, and experience that it’s surprisingly easy to find yourself saying just one more cutscene before finally calling it quits.
Despite the narrative being extremely strong, gameplay is what you’d expect from a dungeon crawler. You explore locations, follow vague clues, and defeat elaborate monsters. As you progress, enemies start to require deeper, and more complicated mechanics. Like most games in this genre, some of the later encounters utilize cheap, and annoying mechanics. There are enemies that can cast death, traps that trick you into making a mistake, or sections that require upgrades you might not have. Thankfully, some of the NIS charm is present as well.
Look at the Diverse Range of Character Designs
Perhaps my favorite mechanics from Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk, wall break, returns. As the name suggests, it allows you to break a wall. This can be used to find secret locations, progress forward, die, or just get to your objective faster. There are also a lot of options to deal with enemies, traps, and everything in-between.
One of the more interesting mechanics is stockpile. The concept behind it is incredibly simple. Instead of accepting your experience, you can bank it and earn more. It’s a risky gamble, as you can earn as much as five times the total, or die and lose it all. Still, this adds up quickly, making it easy to power level early sections if you go about it the right way.
Later levels also change things up, such as randomized dungeons, loot, and potential enemies, making every moment a thrill. One stage could give you a weapon far beyond your current resources, whereas another might have an enemy that completely destroys your team. Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society isn’t afraid to play both extremes, something that will result in a lot of highs, and lows. Especially since it seems to know when you’re down, and more than happy to deliver a swift kick to the face.
Thankfully, there are enough resources to make the adventure engaging for people at any skill level. If you don’t want to deal with equipment management, there is an auto equip option. Most situations have an intended strategy, making it more of a question of what you need to do, than anything else. And, in the event you don’t want to bother, it is possible to become extremely overpowered by grinding a lot. Even beyond leveling characters, gear can be improved in practically every way, sometimes better drops will happen, or you complete an optional task that gives something extremely powerful.
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society Review Verdict
Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society: Simply put, Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society is an okay dungeon crawler with an exceptional story. While some will be put off by the time investment, those willing to will be rewarded with this emotionally deep, and intriguing adventure. One that I would probably say is my favorite NIS has put out to date. So, if that sounds like something you'd enjoy, or you just like NIS' other games, I would absolutely suggest Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society. And, if you're a newcomer, it's still worth giving a go, and one of the easier to get into stories. – Grant