Labyrinth of Zangetsu PC Review

Reaching for the horizon and vanishing, literally.

By R3GR3T, Posted 22 Apr 2023

Acquire, a Japanese game development studio, the same people who brought us the masterpiece that is Octopath Traveler, teamed up with Kaeru Panda Inc. to revive an old genre with a really interesting twist. Labyrinth of Zangetsu, a dungeon crawler combined with old JRPG mechanics that has the potential to take a top spot.

While Kaeru Panda Inc. mainly dealt with mobile games, they made a big move by collaborating with Aqcuire. Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a beautifully designed game that is heavily reminiscent of the old JRPG games we used to play back in the day, featuring all hand-drawn artwork, traditional music to match, and a rich story to follow. However, this game has a few issues that need to be addressed for it to really shine.

Labyrinth Of Zangetsu, Review, Screenshots, JRPG, Adventure, NoobFeed

In Labyrinth of Zangetsu, the land is in danger of being overrun by the Ink of Ruin, a blight of corruption that will stop at nothing to wipe out what’s left of Tokinokuni and turn it all into dark and twisted labyrinths. You are tasked with a training order to assemble a team of Blightbane Conscripts whom you have to lead to victory against the Ink. The last bastion against the Ink is Ido, and it’s protected by Zangetsu Barriers, but they won’t hold forever and the ink only gets stronger with each passing day.

You’ll have to assemble your party and fight against the Ink to save everybody, both good and evil. The Ink doesn’t differentiate between sides, it will remove everything to fulfill its task. However, before you can officially begin your journey to defeat the Ink, you’ll have to endure the Fort of Trials to prove your worth.

You start your quest in Labyrinth of Zangetsu with a captivating cinematic, while there aren’t any voiceovers, the music more than makes up for it. From there, you’ll have to create your party of conscripts. This is where things get a lot more complicated. Your party is all you have, so you’ll need to be extremely sure before you depart. Starting off, you’ll have the option of creating new conscripts and deciding on their races, stats, classes, and avatars. Though if you don’t want to go through that, you can also use the pre-created conscripts oddly named as 1-6 in Japanese.

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Creating your own conscripts is recommended if you want to have full control over your party right from the start. The first thing you’ll need to choose is Race. You can choose between Human, Dwarf, Elf, Cavegram, Nekomata, and Half-Oni. Each race has its own unique starting stats, making it a better fit for certain classes.

Once you’ve chosen a race, you’ll get randomly rolled Bonus Points that you can assign to Strength (Str), Dexterity (Dex), Vitality (Vit), Spirit (Spi) and Charisma (Cha). Each stat has a different effect on various aspects of your conscript, like melee damage, health, dark magic potency, and various other checks. However, your Bonus Points also decide which classes your new conscript has access to. Naturally, a higher number of Bonus Points means you’ll have access to more classes. Though if you’re not happy with your Bonus Points, you can reroll that number for a higher number or just to have more points to spend on stats.

After that, you can finally pick a class. Unfortunately, some classes are out of reach regardless of how high your Bonus Points are. With an extremely high roll, you’ll have access to the Warrior, Thief, Cleric, Wizard, Samurai, and Monk Classes. Each class will also give your conscript a slight stat boost as well, but each one of them also has a unique passive. As an example, the Samurai class will passively regenerate health in battle after each turn. The Thief class is the only class that can unlock a treasure chest without having to break it.

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Creating a balanced party is extremely important if you want any chance at surviving the Labyrinths, the typical balance is 1 Warrior, 1 Samurai, 1 Cleric, 2 Wizards, and 1 Thief. Though you are free to build any type of party to suit your playstyle, but it will also change the difficulty if you don’t know what to expect. You’ll have to keep in mind the stats differences for each race and the class bonuses when you’re building your party.

So you’ve got your merry band of conscripts ready to face off against the Ink of Ruin, but before you can even try, you’ll need to survive the Fort of Trials. The Fort is also where you go through the tutorial, while it might seem incredibly mundane or pointless, it’s also where you get some starting items and your first level up. It’s also a great place to test out a new party composition if you want to experiment before heading out into the world.

With the Fort Of Trials done and dusted, your next step will be a brief stop at the city of Ido. When coming back to Ido, your party’s health will be refiled and you’ll get a moment of peace while preparing to head into the labyrinths. Ido might not have much to offer but it’s more than enough to get you ready for your next trip. Ido has some basic necessities like the Trading Post, where you can buy and sell loot or gear and the temple where you can revive conscripts who died in battle.

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The Trading Post in Ido only has basic equipment in terms of weapons or armor for your conscripts, and they can be quite cheap or carry a hefty price tag depending on what you’re looking for. Though you’ll also need to buy consumables like Medicine, Torches, Antidotes and the like. You’ll need to make sure you stock up on these as healing from your Cleric can be quite limited, and handling status effects can be a pain too.

The Temple serves two purposes. The first one is a chance at resurrecting your fallen conscripts, though the chance varies depending on the conscript’s alignment between good, neutral, and evil. The second purpose is to purify corruption from your conscripts. Being afflicted by corruption reduces your conscript’s max health permanently until you can purify it. Though like with all things in life, you’ll have to pay for both services in Labyrinth of Zangetsu.

Now that you’ve spent some money on new gear and stocked up on consumables, you’re ready to brave the labyrinths. Where the major appeal of Labyrinth of Zangetsu comes in is with the dungeon crawler aspect. You’ll have a basic mini-map and a bigger full map, but as you explore, new blocks will be revealed around the maps.

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As you explore, you’ll come across blocks with a smoke/fog hovering inside them. These are your enemy encounters, instead of being random encounters, you’ll get to see where they are and have time to prepare for them, but you won’t know the type of beasts you’ll encounter until you start it. Running head-first into an enemy encounter will get you some loot and experience points if you can win, you’ll also have the option of sneaking. Sneaking, while effective most of the time, doesn’t always work. If it works, you can sneak past an encounter without having to fight anything, but failing to sneak means the enemies will be to ambush you instead.

The combat system in Labyrinth of Zangetsu follows the original JRPG script, where your character’s speed is the deciding factor for when it’s his turn to attack. The same applies to enemies. When starting an encounter, you can choose to attack, repeat the previous actions (the default is attacking if there are no previous actions), change your equipment but this does cost a turn, reorder your party to shuffle which conscripts are in the front and which are in the back, and run.

Choosing to attack will let you move from one conscript to the next so that you can choose a normal attack, parry (defend), magic, skill, item, or run. Attack and parry are obvious, magic and skill are what set your conscripts apart from one another. Each class, magic or physical, will have access to a skill or magic list, as they gain experience and level up, they’ll gain access to new magic and skills for use in battle. However, this is where it becomes a bit unfair.

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Physical class skills, while incredibly damaging or can even boost your conscript damage, have no limit to their use. The reason this seems a bit unfair is because the magic users have a set number of spells they can cast for each tier of magic, unlike in traditional RPG games where you’d have a mana system to manage magic. The limited uses for each tier of magic is a profound mechanic but can be rather unbalanced, even more so with the cleric class, who’s main role is to provide healing to the rest of the party.

While you’re out exploring, you’ll have to keep a keen eye as not everything is as it seems. You’ll occasionally see one of your conscripts light up along your path, indicating they noticed something. Sometimes it’ll be rather obvious with the ground looking different from everything around it in that block, other times, it’s quite well hidden. You do have a search function that will reveal the hidden path or object to you. Though there is always the chance that it could be another encounter or trap, so be prepared for anything.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu features an amazing hand-drawn art style with very little 3D aspects. While back in Ido, you’ll see the color palette is quite diverse, but when you’re out exploring the labyrinths, the colors lean more towards high contrast black and white. The color differences also add on to the atmosphere and the story overall since your main enemy is the Ink of Ruin, since the ink is typically black.

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The enemies you’ll face off against feature the same hand-drawn style and lack of color to match the theme of the game. There is an odd issue with the game though, while it’s not confirmed to be intentional, you’ll occasionally come across enemies that are absolutely tiny. This also applies to boss-level monsters, the sprite generation might need some fixing, as this does take away from the quality.

While Labyrinth of Zangetsu isn’t voiced at all, it doesn’t need it. It does mean there is a fair amount of reading, but the music makes up for it in so many ways. The background music plays such a massive part in the immersion of this game. During an enemy encounter, you’ll hear a shift in the music, and while there are some sound effects for each action, it does sound a bit lacking.

Labyrinth of Zangetsu does have one game-breaking issue that really cuts the value and experience of the game. Even though you are given 6 save slots for different playthroughs, you’ll have a hard time returning to them later on since save files just reset when you close the game. It’s not clear if the issue is with Steam or the game itself, but nobody likes to lose their hard work because of a game-breaking bug like this. While this issue doesn’t seem as prevalent when using the pre-made conscripts, you are guaranteed to lose your progress when using your own conscripts. The developers seem to be aware of the issue, but something like this should’ve been fixed on day one.


Overall, Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a beautifully designed game with so much old Eastern cultural inspiration. While the combat system can be a bit unbalanced, it’s still a joy to play. Provided you can look past the game-breaking bug and odd sprite generation, this is the type of game that can appeal to any type of gamer, but even so more the gamers from the older generation who grew up with JRPGs.

Update: The people have spoken and the developers listened. Thanks to the efforts of Kaeru Panda Inc. and Acquire, Labyrinth of Zangetsu got a much needed update that addressed previously mentioned issues with save data resetting when creating custom conscripts and sprite generation for enemy encounters. Being able to create your own conscripts gives those who have the patience for it, a lot more potential to work with and so much more firepower to defeat the Ink of Ruin. While it might be a late patch, it's refreshing to see how much the developers care about their game and the player base. Here's to hoping for them to keep up the amazing work in this regard, and possibly mix in a bit more beta testing before releasing. 

Jay Claassen
Editor, NoobFeed

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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Switch
Publisher(s): Acquire, PQube
Developer(s): Acquire, KaeruPanda Inc.
Genres: Role-Playing
Themes: JRPG, Adventure
Release Date: 2023-04-20

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