Coming from a team with developers who have a couple of legendary titles behind their names, Last Labyrinth is one of this month’s most interesting VR titles. It’s out now for PC-based headsets as well as Playstation VR – we tested the latter version.
The developers behind Last Labyrinth by Amata K.K. have previously worked on games like ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Puppeteer and The Last Guardian, so we were understandably hoping for something special with Last Labyrinth. And while it’s not as memorable as those titles were, it’s certainly a unique game in the VR domain.
Essentially an escape room game with a twist, Last Labyrinth casts you as a player bound to a wheelchair in which you’re strapped with no means of escape. You’re not alone though, because in the room with you is a young girl named Katia who I’d say is about twelve years old and looks to you for guidance. And like that, an interesting partnership is formed.
You can’t speak to Katia, and she only speaks in a fictitious language herself, so your methods of communication to one another are extremely limited. Your main tool for communication and control is a laser pointer that’s mounted to your head and a button in your hand that operates it. This allows you to point at objects in the room, and can help you tell Katia to move there.
Objects that can be interacted with can be targeted as well, and you indicate your wishes Katia will move over there and (through body language) ask you to confirm that you want her to go ahead and interact with it. In these cases, nodding yes or shaking your head no is as close to proper communication as you’re going to get in the game, most everything else being controlled with your laser pointer or inferred through animations and body language.
It’s a very interesting premise and the animation work on Katia is excellent and sufficiently convincing in helping you build a relationship of trust in a powerful use of VR. All of that can quickly fly out the window though, as making the wrong decision can and will lead to a quick and gruesome death for both you and Katia – giving this escape room game a bit of a “Saw” kind of feel at times, where the stakes are high.
But while the central premise is interesting and the core gameplay mechanics of communication, trust and cooperation between two characters are great, the game is let down but subpar puzzle design. With a collection of puzzles that doesn’t have a singular gameplay mechanic to tie them together, things are kind of all over the place. And while that definitely isn’t a bad thing (and in an escape room game it’s actually preferred), it doesn’t help that one puzzle can be incredibly straightforward while the next one is as obtuse as can be. In one case you’re left unfulfilled, in the other case frustrated.
But while, because of the puzzle design, the game never really settles into a sweet spot throughout its surprisingly lengthy campaign, its novel gameplay style still makes it a memorable take on VR gaming. I’d wait until it hits a sale as there are better puzzle games, but this is worth a look if you’re played a lot of VR and want something different.