Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk E3 Impression 2
If simple isn’t your thing, has NIS America got a dungeon crawler for you! Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk — the development team of which includes designers who have also worked on the Disgaea series — is about a labyrinthine dungeon that stretches far below the town of Refrain. It is the player’s job to delve into the dungeon to achieve a number of objectives, returning to the surface periodically to advance the story, then return to the labyrinth, getting a little further each time.
The mechanics involved in setting up your battle party seem quite complex, but also allow for a large amount of party customization. Since the labyrinth is filled with a miasma that’s toxic to humans, the game’s protagonists — the Dusk Witch Dronya and Luca, her apprentice — instead send down wooden puppets that come to life to explore the labyrinth for them.
To start with, players must create their puppet soldiers, choosing a facet (each character’s class), gender, appearance, personality, and voice. These puppet soldiers make up the player’s brigade, which is further split into up to five separate covens, basically squads of soldiers within the brigade. To make a coven, players use various Soul Pacts that dictate how many members the coven can have, as well as what special effects it receives. Over the course of the game, players will eventually have forty puppet soldiers in their brigade, though as the game begins, things start small with only three.
All of these details must be taken into consideration when tweaking your battle party. Once in the labyrinth, however, most of it operates behind the scenes. Visually, the dungeon crawling and combat looks comparable to other titles in the genre, and during combat an entire coven acts as one, with all its members’ attributes rolled together, making battles play out much simpler than it all sounds. The player is also cast in a special role. The only one that can bring the wooden puppet soldiers to life in the labyrinth and command them there is the Tractatus de Monstrum, or Tractie for short. Tractie is a magical book that contains the soul of the only man to ever survive the labyrinth — you! In short, the player is a magical book used by Dronya and Luca to do their bidding within the labyrinth.
There is also a narrative that runs throughout the game, playing out in dialog sections when not in the dungeon. Refrain has several townspeople that interact with Dronya and Luca, like Lord Petrone the governor, and Juliet the socialite. These sections let players take a break from crawling around the dank, dark dungeon, and add some anime charm to the game.
Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk is currently scheduled to release for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and PC. It will be releasing on September 18 of this year.