Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death

Towers, four big brooding towers, all of them with something nasty at the top, or bottom. That seems to be the basic plot of MeiQ. But with a bunch of gabbling, generic, half-wits getting in the way almost every step, you might as well be in the middle of the Next, New Look or whatever clothing store you've been in that attracts mad women during their New Year sale.

In the first, the Black Tower, there's Connie who's always spinning around and getting lost and a few other ladies all trying to complete their mission or challenge you. Each level is grid based, with traps, tricks, treasure and an annoying lack of inquiring minds. The girls just blunder about, while you wipe out any opposition in what may be an attempt at a tutorial, until you get to the end of level guardian, when you need to start remembering what it is they were jabbering on about.
Fortunately, each of these mad women has a guardian in tow to protect them, packing swords, shields, Vulcan cannon and many other weapons, the girls (Estra, Flare, Maki, Connie, and your initial avatar Setia) are fighting the three particularly evil Shadows, played firmly in the Scooby Doo vein, and Gagarin the Dark Machina Mage.

Each girl's guardian will do the majority of the battling, using improve powerful Stones to help charge them up. Or, you can craft upgraded parts and weapons when you've learnt the requisite skills needed for the Machina forge, or swapping out weapons so water fights heat, rock smashes most things etc, etc.

The second, red, tower, is a flame pit of hell, not really a tower at all. But, the game plays fast and lose with these ideas. However, the monsters and landscape are horribly generic, if a little tougher to make it more of a challenge  further on you'll be fighting through woods, but the background graphics are extremely primitive.

You'll soon be flitting around between the towers, leveling up characters, not that you can assign points or anything, and using the Guardian combo skills to batter the stronger enemies.

Fresh skills allow you to find mystery hidden doors or treasure, necessitating another run through each level. At least lifts and portals can help move you around quicker, while you'll just whizz about on the ice or other slippery levels, or use the cranky not-bumping-into-walls navigation technique to, um, bump into walls!

A plain and simple RPG with some really annoying characterisation, MeiQ is not much of anything except some fun grinding, especially in the massive, pointless forests, and simple building for people who like that kind of thing. There's no sense of reward for your exploration, just annoying level design, made to frustrate. However, if recent RPG efforts have over-complicated things for you, like Ray Gigant, this may be welcome, but it really does nothing to great effect.

Score: 5/10
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Price: £32.99 (PSN)
Developer: Idea Factory/Compile Heart
Progress: Blue Maze, blue in the face

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