Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth

A game by Team Ladybug and Why So Serious for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2021.
Record of Lodoss War began its life as a series of fantasy novels, but since that time, it has received multiple iterations in manga, anime, and video games, each offering their take on the world and its characters. Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is a metroidvania in the style of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and it stars Deedlit, a high elf who is gifted in elemental magic and is a skilled swordswoman. Many of Deedlit’s designs and animations are directly inspired by those of Alucard from Symphony of the Night.

Deedlit awakens to find herself in a familiar but unknown place, and so she sets out to find out what has happened, where she is, and what she must do. And so she traverses an open world environment, battling enemies, fighting bosses, and engaging with other characters, not all of whom are friendly. Per genre conventions, Deedlit slowly gains new abilities that allow her to revisit previous areas and find new routes forward.

Deedlit has a 1.5x variable jump and a backstep that allows her to quickly move out of the way of enemy attacks. She begins the game with a longsword, which she uses to attack enemies while standing, ducking, or jumping. There is no combo, but she is able to swing the sword rapidly, taking out most enemies with ease. She can also aim her attacks in eight directions, with downward attacks and downward angles only possible while jumping.

Throughout the game, Deedlit acquires new weapons, with some recovered from defeated enemies, others found around the environment, and still others available for purchase from a shopkeeper (more on this in a bit). Every weapon has a speed and attack strength rating (and some offer multi-hit combos), so weapons like clubs may allow for heavier strikes, but Deedlit swings them more slowly. Spears allow for quick attacks at a longer range, but they do less damage per strike. The player may swap between these weapons at any time from the pause menu.

Deedlit also gains access to bows and arrows early into her adventure. Arrows may be fired infinitely, with each shot draining a bit of the magic meter, which refills slowly over time. Like melee weapons, bows come in a number of varieties with differing stats, and while arrows are weaker than melee weapons, they can be used to deal with enemies from afar or to wear down bosses from a safe distance. Arrows can be fired straight ahead, or at upward and downward angles, and they bounce off of steel surfaces, setting up puzzle-like sequences where the player must bounce arrows around corners into order to cut weighted ropes and open doorways.

Deedlit learns a few different magic-based attacks, which also drain the magic meter, but much of the action focuses on a pair of elemental-based spirits. Early on, Deedlit gains access to a wind-based elemental spirit that allows her to hover in the air. This hover effect is infinite and can be used to cross gaps, avoid enemies and traps, and occasionally reach higher platforms, although the wind only pushes her up to a specified height. This magic also extends the reach of her melee weapons somewhat by creating small whirlwinds at the end of each strike, and arrows also take on elemental affinities.

Later, Deedlit gains access to a fire-based elemental spirit. When this spirit is equipped, Deedlit's weapons can destroy gunpowder barrels that block her route, and killing enemies causes them to erupt in flames. Similarly, Deedlit’s attack range is extended somewhat with a flame at the end of each strike, and her arrows also take on the flame effect.

Only one of these elemental spirits may be used at a time, and there is some strategy involved in swapping between them. First off, some enemies are immune or resistant to certain elemental effects. For instance, fire-breathing lizards are immune to flame-based sword strikes, whereas mummies and other undead creatures take more damage from these strikes but are resistant or immune to wind-based attacks.

Similarly, some enemies and bosses fire color-coded projectiles, with blue representing wind and orange representing fire. By swapping to the corresponding color, the player is able to negate damage from these attacks, and the same works for blue and orange level hazards. This spirit swapping ability allows for boss attacks that fill the screen with projectiles, requiring the player to make some quick Ikaruga-style swaps to avoid danger.

Of equal importance is the fact that flame and wind attacks may be leveled up, with levels ranging from 1-3. When you kill enemies or break certain objects, they drop cubes (each enemy kill results in a set of dice appearing in the lower right corner of the screen) and these may be collected to level up whichever spirit is not equipped at the time. Levelling up allows the player to perform more powerful attacks and can also be used to restore some health. However, players must be careful, as each hit they take reduces the equipped spirit by one level. As a result, players must be mindful of when to swap spirits for the best effect, and they must occasionally unequip a spirit in order to level it up.

Killing enemies also allows the player to gain experience points, with each level gained granting a slight increase in attack power and defense. Most enemies drop gold as well, which can be spent on items once the player discovers the shopkeeper. The shop offers health, magic, and spirit restoratives, as well as a doll that takes a bit of damage in your place. In addition, the shopkeeper sells a variety of swords and bows with differing speed and strength stats, and the shopkeeper will buy any unwanted equipment.

The player is not required to make any purchases in order to make progress, as he will stumble upon better weapons through the normal course of play… but the player can also gain an advantage by purchasing more powerful weapons earlier in the game, provided he has the money. Enemies respawn when reentering rooms, so it’s possible to farm for gold and experience points. That said, the overall difficulty level is low to moderate outside of boss encounters.

Bosses can be pretty tough the first time you encounter them, but skilled players may still defeat them on a first attempt. Once you learn boss’ patterns and when to swap between wind and fire spirits, these battles become easier. Some bosses are outright immune to one of your elemental affinities. For instance, a dragon is immune to flames but can be harmed by wind, but many of its attacks are flames, so you must still swap back and forth to attack and avoid taking damage. Another boss encounter sees you facing off against a pair of bosses, each with a different elemental affinity, requiring you to stay on your toes to dish out damage while watching for attacks from both sides and adjusting accordingly.

Save points are abundant, and these restore your health as well, but they do not restore your elemental levels. In addition, warp points appear throughout the game world, allowing fast travel between any that the player has discovered. Thoroughly exploring the environment occasionally results in the discovery of false/destructible walls that lead to hidden rooms, wherein the player may discover new spells or other upgrades. Explorative players may also discover permanent HP and MP upgrades.

Most progression is organic, with new areas opening as new abilities are gained, such as the genre staple ground slide ability that lets you enter small openings, and a double jump that allows you to reach higher platforms. Unfortunately, other areas are blocked off by a simple lock-and-key structure, with some doorways becoming unlocked once the player finds the switch to deactivate them, while other doors (with different symbols) remain locked. A metroidvania map helps players determine which areas remain to be explored.

The second chapter introduces a gambling minigame where you can bet money on a dice rolling game. Simple bets let you wager whether a certain number will be rolled on any of the three dice, with bonuses if the number shows up more than once. More complex bets allow you to wager on pairs of numbers, or bet on whether two or three of the dice will have the same number, with the odds for each outcome clearly displayed.

Other new elements added in the second chapter are magnets that pull your arrows toward them, creating door opening puzzles where you must shoot arrows and curve them around corners. Deedlit also earns a double jump in this area, greatly expanding her ability to navigate the environment and opening up several new paths of travel, including new routes in the opening area. Using these abilities, you are able to locate damage upgrades for your melee strikes and push forward into more dangerous territory.

Platforming becomes more complex as you continue, requiring you to deal with enemies while swapping between spirits in order to pass through elemental barriers, and there are lots of areas where you must hover through spike-lined corridors while also avoiding enemy attacks. You also encounter rooms with lava along the floor and learn that switching over to the fire spirit allows you to walk through it unharmed... although you will take damage if you stay in it for too long.

The third chapter introduces elevators and swords that are operated by striking spinning gears with arrows. Hitting a gear multiple times in succession - at the same angle - will cause it to spin in that direction, and the player must adjust his aim in cases where he is riding an elevator while shooting. Much of this chapter focuses on searching for five keys that allow you to operate mysterious mechanisms that block your path forward in a couple of spots.
There are also lots of shadowy creatures here, including bats that block out the light and humanoid spirits that float slowly toward you. The spirits are tough to deal with as they take up a large area when in their gaseous form, and they are also invisible in this form. By turning your back to them, they become solid and take up less space, allowing you to backstep past them or use one of your abilities to kill them (they are very weak). Fortunately, a boomerang also becomes available in this area, giving you a way to attack with your back turned, and also allowing you a bit more range on your standard attacks.
The fourth chapter sees the player unlocking the ability to breathe underwater, and this chapter also features an abundance of boss encounters. The player pursues a villain through most of this area and encounters her multiple times, and each time the player defeats her, she summons another boss to continue the fight... although some of the screen warping effects make these battles tougher than they should be.
As mentioned, the game is very much inspired by the aesthetics of the post-Symphony of the Night Castlevania series, and it wears these inspirations on its sleeve by way of numerous graphical details, animations, and music that mimic this series. The studio behind this game previously developed Touhou Luna Nights, a metroidvania with similar aesthetics (and which is also based on a long-running series of other artistic works). Players experienced with games in the metroidvania genre will be at home here.

Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth was developed by Team Ladybug in conjunction with Why So Serious? (owned by Kadokawa Corporation, creators of the Pixel Game Maker MV tool). Team Ladybug previously developed KonoSuba God's Blessing on this Wonderful World! Revival of Beldia, Shin Megami Tensei: Synchronicity Prologue, and Touhou Luna Nights. The game was built using the Mogura Engine 2, an update to the Mogura Engine, developed by Krobon.

The game was published by Playism / Active Gaming Media, which also published Kero Blaster, Pink Hour, Pink Heaven, Gunhound EX, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, Hakoniwa Explorer Plus, Touhou Luna Nights, Mighty Goose, La Mulana 2, and some versions of La-Mulana.


Unknown said...

Nice read, clear explanation! Thanks for the effort.