Wonder Labyrinth

Pretty much the first anime I ever bought with my own money was Record of Lodoss War on VHS. I’ve since picked it up again on Blu-ray, for nostalgia’s sake, if nothing else, though I haven’t watched it in decades.

Probably my favorite video game of all time is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Over the years since, I’ve played a lot of games that have tried to recapture that particular magic, but I’ve never played another one that hit quite the same way and, given that I mostly don’t play video games anymore, I probably never will.

But recently, I discovered that there was a 2021 game that, unlikely as it sounds, combines these two early loves of mine – and it turns out that they’re two great tastes that taste great together! The game is Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth and, as you might expect, you play as the eponymous elf from Record of Lodoss War.

The gameplay itself is basically identical to Symphony of the Night, from how Deedlit controls to how levels are explored and unlocked by gaining new abilities to the way different weapons subtly alter the trajectory of your attacks. There are also little adjustments, such as the spirit system whereby you are constantly accompanied by a spirit of either wind or fire, and can switch between them to various effects. And I especially appreciate not having to knock out candles constantly.

The graphics look similar, complete with the little shadows of yourself that follow as you move. And, of course, Deedlit and Alucard could be twins, separated at birth. One of the main differences is in the enemies.

Naturally, there are skeletons and mummies and such that you would definitely find in Castlevania, but there are also plenty of fantasy RPG mainstays such as goblins, trolls, adorable kobolds that look a bit like hedgehog people, dragons, gnomes, dope-looking basilisks, and maybe the best take on a mimic that I have ever seen – here called a “chest imitator.”

Like Symphony of the Night, the game is filled with little touches that help to make it special. My favorite is that each of the levels (1-6) is represented by a d6, as are the resources that you draw from enemies to power up your spirit abilities. Even the various strengths and weaknesses of the enemies are d6s, with the face showing how strong or weak against a particular element the enemy is.

As of this writing, I haven’t quite beaten the game, after about 12 hours of play, but I’m a minute away from doing so. More or less standing outside the front door of the final boss(es). Beating a game or not is immaterial for me, though. I’ve loved playing it. To me, it’s the closest a game has ever come to recapturing the magic of Symphony of the Night – and the fact that it does so while also reimagining familiar Record of Lodoss War characters and classic RPG fantasy tropes is icing on the cake.

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