While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, MeiQ has a few surprises for those thinking it’s just another fan service packed JRPG. Lengthy and packing in some cool ideas, it’s a solid genre entry worth picking up.
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Publisher: Idea Factory International
# of Players: 1
Release Date: 9/13/2016
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Score: B (80%) BUY IT!
At first glance (and second… and third), MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death looks like many other fan-service JRPGs packed with gals bursting out of their too-skimpy outfits ripe for waifu fantasies from those eager fans into that sort of thing. Fortunately, a mighty good game lurks past that booby trap facade and this is one Labyrinth worth a full inspection and yes, another Iffy game you’ll want to have in your library. Once you get over the costume designs, there’s a long and challenging game here to conquer with a fine combat system, albeit one that doesn’t change all that much once you sink a few hours in.
The plot is pretty basic stuff with four towers that need to be conquered in order to beat the evil so-and so trying to rule and ruin the land. Adding mechs each gal can pilot to the mix is a great touch, as it allows for some interesting pairings as well as gives you a squishy backup plan should a mech fall in battle. That’s right, your gals and whatever skills they’ve learned are your last resource if their metallic rides go down in flames. Initially, it’s a lousy thing as the gals aren’t exactly powerful and it takes time to gain a full party anyway. But, after a chunk of time, they’ll improve and all gain some nice, useful skills that can do decent damage. You’ll still want those mechs in good shape, though.
The real fun comes from the level of challenge required to beast certain beasts as the game progresses. Cute looks aside, the sub-bosses and bosses here aren’t cute when it comes to being cheap when they can. Level grinding, experimenting with the crafting and gem system and just being persistent all help out here. Especially when you defeat a big boss and realize that the game is hiding secrets that require more (and in some cases, tougher) combat. You’re pretty much going to be following the reliable pattern of get plot point, explore dungeon, fight/level up, teleport back to town for supplies, back to dungeon, beat boss, rinse and repeat. The game’s sole big fault is that procedure isn’t really shaken up one bit once you grasp the overall means of making the best of your time spent playing.
Presentation-wise, MeiQ is a solid “okay”. Simple to a fault, really. The hand-drawn artwork is great overall, but the polygon dungeons tend to be a bit plain looking and yes, follow the standard straightforward mazes to the elemental types you’d expect. Now, I play a LOAD of dungeon crawlers that do the exact same thing, so this isn’t a knock on this game in particular, but on the genre as a whole. Someone needs to put sloped surfaces, curves (well, other that what the cast is packing here, ha!) and more naturalistic maps in these games because they almost look too much alike at times. The soundtrack is decent enough here, though.
Overall, MeiQ has a way of hooking you into its charms unless you were expecting yet another game where innuendo lurches onto the scene and you’re sitting there watching skits about panties and boob size playing out and turning your head into a gigantic beet. None of that resides here, folks. It’s just straight up dungeon crawly fun with a side of side-boob cleaving your field of view as required by JRPG law or something. This one’s so non-purile that you won’t need to Purell your eyeballs and brain after playing a session. Grab it and go, but prepare to miss a few train or bus stops if you play while in transit.
Review code provided by the publisher.