Review – Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth (Switch)

Don’t expect for me to talk about my prior experience with the Record of Lodoss War franchise, because honestly, I still have no clue what the hell this series is about. All I know about it is that there was a game released for the Dreamcast back in the day. That’s it. What made me excited about Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth wasn’t its source material, but the fact it looked extremely similar to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. This is what convinced me to give it a shot: a classically-inspired metroidvania for the Switch? Don’t mind if I do!

Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth Arrow

Arrows are hella useful, but they consume magic. Don’t ask why.

Yes indeed, Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is a dead ringer for Koji Igarashi’s magnum opus (even though I still stand by my statement that Circle of the Moon is better). It looks, sounds, and is animated just like the 1997 classic, but that doesn’t mean this is a carbon copy of said game, just with a Record of Lodoss War coat of paint. There’s a lot to love in this game and plenty of elements that make it stand out not only from Symphony of the Night, but most indie metroidvanias on the market.

Yes, the titular Deedlit, a female high elf who’s probably very important and famous for the three Westerners who have gotten their hands on the dozens of Japan-exclusive Lodoss War titles released over the years, plays a lot like Alucard. She moves like Alucard. She sidesteps like Alucard. She is one daddy issue away from basically being Alucard. You have a wide assortment of weapons at your disposal, as well as magic spells and two spirits who act similarly to SotN‘s familiars as well.

Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth Polarity

It’s easy to remember. Become blue when a blue enemy attacks you. Become orange when an orange enemy attacks you.

But Deedlit has more tricks up her elvish sleeve. For starters, she will always carry a bow around, allowing her to attack enemies from a distance, as well as solve a multitude of puzzles. Her real secret weapon is the couple of spirits who follow her around. Sure, them acting as familiars aren’t a novel concept, but the fact they power Deedlit up with the element of wind or fire is. They act as polarities of sorts, with the fire spirit granting you immunity against fire attacks, and the wind spirit doing the same with wind attacks.

Yes, it sounds a lot like Ikaruga, and that’s because it works exactly like the polarity system from that game. The only difference is that not all enemies are fire or wind elementals. You will be able to notice when an attack or trap is powered up by one of these elements just by looking at them. If it’s light blue, it’s wind-based. If it’s orange, it’s fire-based. Keep alternating between both polarities to avoid getting damaged, as well as using your foes’ magic against them by replenishing your own magic meter.

Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth Bosses

This is actually the first boss in the entire game.

That’s the main gameplay loop featured in Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth: explore a well-designed castle full of secrets, look for powerups and new weapons, upgrade your gear at a local merchant, kill enemies, level up, then kill a boss at the end of each main area. It is by no means an extraordinary take on the genre, but it takes elements from successful entries, adds a few extra tidbits here and there, and covers everything up with a pretty decent presentation and top-notch MIDI-based soundtrack.

The visuals look just like a metroidvania with a 32-bit art style. By that, I mean that Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth looks extremely similar to Symphony of the Night, with the difference that it features more high fantasy elements instead of gothic elements. The game looks great, but for reasons beyond my comprehension, it suffers from framerate issues. Whenever things get hectic onscreen, be it by being assaulted by a lot of enemies at once or by conjuring a screen clearing spell, the framerate takes a toll. Whether that’s a bug or yet another game being hindered by the Switch’s jurassic hardware is yet to be known. It’s just weird to witness such issue on a mostly sprite-based 2D game.

Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth

Does this make up for the lack of Symphony of the Night on the Switch? No, but I welcome Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth regardless.

Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth isn’t a game you will play for its plot, since you won’t understand a damn thing about it. You will buy it because it looks, feels and plays like Symphony of the Night, but you’ll keep glued to it because it features enough qualities to make it stand out not only from its main source of inspiration, but from most metroidvanias in the market. It may suffer from a few performance issues, but all in all, this is one of the most entertaining exploratory action platformers I’ve played in a while, and it’s well worth your time.

Graphics: 7.5

The art style is reminiscent of Symphony of the Night, with a similar (and therefore, excellent) degree of animation. The backgrounds aren’t as exciting as the ones from its source of inspiration, though, and the game suffers from some severe framerate issues in certain spots.

Gameplay: 8.5

Your standard metroidvania gameplay loop, with the addition of a really smart Ikaruga-esque polarity system. The only issues in the gameplay department are the aforementioned framerate drops and the initially bizarre button placement. Thankfully, all buttons can be remapped.

Sound: 8.0

It’s all in MIDI, but it’s pretty good. Each tune matches perfectly with its setting. There aren’t that many complex sound effects, but I certainly did not mind that.

Fun Factor: 9.0

Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is so dead set on resembling Symphony of the Night that it feels unoriginal at times, but that wasn’t a huge dealbreaker for me. Besides some issues, it was one of the most entertaining metroidvanias I’ve played in years.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Record of Lodoss War: Deedlit in Wonder Labyrinth was provided by the publisher.