It’s the worst kept secret that I love playing collectible card games, so when Labyrinth appeared on Kickstarter I had to check it out. I’ve enjoyed reading what they’ve revealed so far but what I really wanted was to sink my proverbial teeth into the meat and potatoes of the game itself. Thankfully, the team at Free Range Games were willing to send me a copy of the demo to get a feel for what to expect. And I do have to say that I’ve thoroughly loved what I’ve seen so far.
In Labyrinth you’ll be building essentially two sets of decks. One will be to defend your little dungeon from invading adventurers with bosses in each “room” having their own deck of cards to make sure you don’t lose valuable currency and stuff. The other is the main focus of the demo, namely grabbing one or more heroes and tossing together a deck of cards for each as you go in search of riches. The demo has a set group of three, featuring a tank a rogue and a healer, versus the fiery overlord Roggix and his nasty tricks.
The combat in Labyrinth is deceptively simple…until you get thrown into the match when all hell breaks loose (sometimes literally). I was able to take the molten beast on the first try but not without sacrifice. By the end I had lost my healer and my thief wasn’t looking so hot. It also took a lot of healing spells to keep everyone up as long as I did. Thankfully, I’m a veteran at both CCGs and MMOs so a victory was inevitable. I just didn’t expect quite as tough a battle as I faced. Which, honestly, is a good thing. You want to feel like you earned your win and I certainly felt both the pain and the pleasure by the end of my match.
So, here’s the deal with the combat in Labyrinth. As mentioned, you have your deck of cards to deal and heal as much damage as you can against the boss before it kills you with its own deck of minions and abilities. The demo showed off pre-built decks, so I can’t comment on the metagaming aspect until it hits early access, but they did tune everything so that it is possible to win but not without fighting hard for it. I honestly couldn’t have won without access to healing spells and buffs. Partially because I was reckless and partially because bosses really are that tough.
Every card has its turn counter in addition to its effects, a number that makes it so that hero or boss can’t act again until it resets to zero. After which you can toss out another attack or heal or dirty trick. Wash, rinse, repeat. This also means that you need to plan ahead so that you don’t end up with nothing to do for five ticks as you see your team’s health slowly whittled away. Not a good sight to see and I winced more than once when it looked bad for my crew.
The demo for Labyrinth shows that they know what they’re doing and in just the single match that I played I’ve already found myself addicted to such a strategic depth that I rarely see in games these days. I most certainly look forward to getting the chance to see the full game in action. And if you want to see it in action for yourself, check out the video above.