Labyrinth of Zangetsu: A complete review

Labyrinth of Zangetsu, developed by Acquire, is a traditional dungeon-crawling game that proves that sticking to classic gameplay can be just as captivating as innovation. With stunning sumi-e style visuals and dungeon crawling elements, the game retains many of the same components that have kept the Wizardry series relevant for over four decades.


Zangetsu’s tutorial is full of energy and spirit, making it surprising for a game that has such a classic feel to it. The tutorial gives off an upper-class refinement tone but with a delicate sneer. Your training party is named after the first six Japanese numerals, hinting at their disposability. However, if you pay attention, the induction imparts almost all the fundamentals you need to persist. And mercifully, even if a character loses all their hit points, swift healing can thwart death.

Reading the Room

Teams consist of three warriors in the front and a line of magic-using supporters standing guard in the rear. The turn-based battles against subordinate foes move at a fair pace, and players can read signs situated throughout each maze to learn how to adopt a stealthy stance, which potentially allows them to sneak past foes. The game yearns to punish the impatient or careless, so taking a moment to read each notice is a worthwhile investment. The game also recommends keeping an eye out for shimmers as these convey the presence of a hidden object.

Exploring the Labyrinths

Zangetsu’s labyrinths favor the fundamentals of skulking, and there are no random enemies. Inky miasmas reveal the position of enemies, and players plot out the interior of each of the game’s labyrinths, steadily filling in a gridded mini-map. Pause, and players will be able to equip newfound items, cast restorative spells, or glean a broader perspective on their surroundings. The latter is especially important when searching for areas of each dungeon that they haven’t investigated yet. One of the more effective strategies is gradually reconnoitering the area near the entrance before making a hasty retreat once their health or magic is in danger of being depleted.

Magic System

Much like Baldur’s Gate, Zangetsu’s magic system provides a predetermined number of uses for each spell level instead of providing a currency based on magic points. This system adds a new layer of strategy to the game, as players must carefully consider when to use their spells and which ones to use.

Let the Departed Stay Dead?

The game is a reminder of how far RPGs have deviated from classic pencil-and-paper board gaming. For example, opening treasure chests is a multi-step process that requires a suitable party member to disarm the trap and another to open the trunk before players can access the loot. As the campaign persists, this becomes increasingly complicated and often involves a multitude of attempts. Players can also use brute force to crack the chest open, at the risk of ruining some of the spoils inside. Zangetsu has one of the cruelest resurrection systems around. If the player’s party gets wiped, they can try to venture back to their remains, but this pursuit involves cultivating a whole new team of first-level neotypes.

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