Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society – Nintendo Switch Review

Overview – developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America, Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society is the latest entry in the Labyrinth JRPG series. Uncover the mysteries of the Galleria Manor and the Labyrinth that exists below, deploying puppet soldiers to fight the monsters that dwell in the darkness. This title is available on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, with a link to each version of the game available at the bottom of this review.

Disclaimer: before I get into the review, I would like to thank NIS America for providing the copy of Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society that was used for this piece. The provision of this software has not influenced the contents of this review, all thoughts and opinions contained within are my own.

Mature Content Warning: This title has been rated mature with sexual themes, partial nudity, use of blood and other content that players may find disturbing or upsetting. If you are uncomfortable with mature themes and situations that may be distressing, then please use your own discretion before looking into the game.

Now with the introductions out of the way, let’s get into the review, starting with the story. I will be referring to the game as Labyrinth of Galleria for the sake of brevity.

Story – the young noble, Eureka de Soleil has travelled a great distance to the mysterious Galleria Manor after finding a flyer for a job. Upon arrival, she meets with the witch Madam Marta and discovers that this job is not what she was led to believe. After passing a test presented by the witch she has become the medium for the Lanterne de Fantasmagorie, as well as the companion of the wandering soul that soon dwells with it.

Now, Eureka and the Spirit must work together to discover the secrets that dwell below the Manor in the Labyrinth of Galleria. The sprawling labyrinth is filled with monsters, treasure and objects known as curios. These special magical items are the prize that Eureka’s new employer seeks, with the spirit of the Lanterne commanding an army of puppet soldiers, each infused with a soul and imbued with power.

Gameplay – Labyrinth of Galleria is a Dungeon Crawling JRPG, with a heavy focus on exploration and combat. The player is tasked with completing objectives while moving around the Labyrinth, collecting resources and battling monsters. The narrative for this release plays out through events both in and out of the dungeons, with dialogue scenes between the protagonist and other characters.

The gameplay is split into three distinct segments. Here is a breakdown of these mechanics with their own sub sections.

Dungeon Crawling: while in each of the dungeons, the player can explore different zones made up of several floors. Each of the floors in a dungeon has puzzles and hazards to overcome, with enemies that roam the corridors and rooms that make up each area. When the player first starts in a dungeon, there will be no map but as the player continues to navigate the dungeons, a map will be filled out over time. Be aware, that there are also hidden areas, so experimentations is encouraged when exploring.

The player takes the role of the Spirit of the Lanterne while inside the dungeons, leading the party and giving units commands or power-ups at the cost of Reinforcement Points. The units are called puppet soldiers and must be created by infusing a soul with a puppet before they can be used. Puppet soldiers can be assigned a variety of classes and visual appearances, with different strengths and weaknesses depending on their class and other associated factors.

The map will also have unique icons to show features of the dungeon, such as doors, treasure chests and stairs that go to different floors. Each floor in a dungeon has their own map, allowing players to plan out their approach to the challenges and objectives that they must complete. At the start of the game, the tools that players will have access to are limited, but over time more will become available to aid the player in their quest.

The dungeons are a very dangerous place, as they are crawling with monsters that will attack the player if they get to close. To determine how safe the player currently is, there is a meter at the top of the screen that shows the current danger level of the immediate area. If the player is safe, the meter will be blue, but if there is an increased element of danger the bar quickly turns red. The enemies in the dungeon will appear as orbs that move in tandem with the player.

The game functions with a global turn clock, with every action the player makes the turn counter ticks over by one. All enemies in the current dungeon follow this turn counter and will move in different patterns, roaming the floors or spawning in after others have been defeated. If the player is careful, they will be able to avoid the enemies if they don’t want to engage in combat. However, if the enemy is alerted to the player they will chase them down.

If contact is made with an enemy, combat will begin immediately spawning in different enemies depending on the area that the player is exploring. In battle the player is able to assign different actions to the puppet soldiers that they have in their party. These actions include attacking with weapons, using special magic skills that cost DP (Donum points) and giving special commands when they have been unlocked (discussed in detail below).

The order that combatants make their move is determined by action speed, with the fastest unit making their move first. Attacks are separated into different physical and elemental types, dealing different amounts of damage based on weaknesses and resistance. During an action turn player units and enemies can be interrupted in battle, this is called stun and will prevent their actions from occurring. When a units HP is fully depleted, they are taken out of battle unless they are revived (puppets only).

Battles can end in three ways, victory, defeat or escape. If the player wins the fight, they will be provided with experience points that level their units, Mana that can be used as a currency (discussed in detail further down) and possibly treasure. If the player is defeated, they will be ejected from the dungeon and lose all of the Mana and bonus experience that was accumulated. Fallen puppet soldiers can become damaged, requiring them to be repaired in order to return at full power.

If the player can successfully flee the battle, no rewards are given, but enemies will still pursue the party in order to eliminate them. If the player wants to escape the dungeon, they have a few options available to them. The main way to leave is by going out the way you came in, leaving through a designated exit will provide rewards and bonuses for returning to the home base. There are also items and skills that can be obtained to escape the labyrinth, however, there are penalties for leaving this way.

Now, let’s move onto the next aspect of the gameplay.

Party/Resource Management: while in the home base, players are able to manage their party and resources. The Mana that is collected in the dungeon can be used here, along with silver that is earned from selling loot and treasure in the shop. This is also where the player is able to craft the puppet soldiers that will be sent into the Labyrinth. In order to create puppets, the player will need puppet parts and souls to imbue the soldiers with life.

When creating the puppets that will be added to the party, players can customize different aspects, including their personality, the way they grow and their appearance. The classes that are available have their own unique strengths and weaknesses, including the weapons and equipment that they can use. This makes the creation of characters very important, since there are settings that can alter the way that the characters work.

In battle, the puppets can become damaged if they take enough damage or the party is wiped out. When this happens the player can use parts to repair them in the home base, with the parts on sale in the store. Along with the puppet creation, there is another important feature of the home base that players must use. This is the witch Petition, where Mana can be used in order to unlock new skills and abilities while in the dungeon.

While in the base, players use soul pacts to create a brigade or party of puppets (this can also be done in dungeons to an extent). These are made up of covens that have their own effects, offering players strategic options in the dungeon, however, some covens require RF (Reinforcement points) to deploy as part of a brigade. More soul pacts will become available as the game progresses, alongside additional features such as the alchemy pot, where players can strengthen gear by using their other resources.

As the story progresses, units can be strengthened by reincarnating the puppets which will increase the power of the puppet soul. Effective maintenance of the soldiers is a key part to succeeding within the labyrinth, as well as improving the equipment that they have. Players must also make sure they are adequately prepared for the trials of the labyrinth by purchasing items from the store, as well as tracking their character formations. 

I have covered the core dungeon and base functions, now it is time for the final segment.

Narrative Events: throughout the game, there are narrative events that the player will encounter both inside and out of the labyrinth. These events are distinct from each other and can affect the progression of the story. The most important events are the Witch Reports, which involve Eureka, Madam Marta and the Spirit of the Lanterne. These segments push the story forward, introduce side characters and have the potential to change the outcome of the narrative with player choices.

The Witch Reports can also be tied to event markers that appear in the dungeon, as they are often related to the objective outlined in the base before departure. The markers are green which relates to investigation, with red ones related to encounters with NPC characters within the labyrinth. The NPC events can result in combat encounters and be very dangerous to the party. Finally there are blue events which provide information and tutorials for the player.

All events are very important, since the side events that seem inconsequential can provide clues for solving puzzles that may hinder the player. There is also an option for players to unlock a note feature, which will leave reminders of events and discoveries in the labyrinth. This can help players get back up to speed when returning to the labyrinth after an extended absence, providing cliff notes of the previous events that have been seen.

Now, with the gameplay covered, it is time to move onto the other parts of this release, starting with the controls.

Controls – the controls for this title can get complicated, with hotkeys and additional features tied to combo button presses. To compensate for this complexity, the game has the heads up display show all of the important features as button prompts on screen. This helps when playing the game for the first time, or if you just forget which buttons do what action. The navigation is done with the D-Pad which makes it more precise, which is needed while in the labyrinth.

Difficulty – as a dungeon crawling JRPG, Labyrinth of Galleria has a scaling difficulty to it, with combat encounters becoming more difficult the deeper the player goes. There is also the possibility for sudden spikes in difficulty, due to the potential for sequence breaks and accessing areas that should not be entered. When this occurs, it is really easy for a full party wipe to occur and to lose all progress. There are also very powerful monsters with their own unique markers, who will wipe you out if unprepared.

To ease the dangers of the labyrinth, the difficulty can be lowered in the Witch Petition section of the base. This provides a more relaxed challenge for those who struggle or just want to enjoy the narrative, but there are fewer rewards. There is also a Nightmare difficulty that can be unlocked, which will make everything more intense for those who seek it. The best way to prepare for the later levels of the labyrinth it to grind resources, but be careful as the reaper will come for you if you gain too much Mana.

Presentation – visually this is another artistic home run from NIS, with beautiful anime style character designs, environments filled with charm and grotesque monsters that can inspire dread in anyone. The designs of the labyrinth dungeons are intricate and have a sense of grandeur to them, with elements that distinguish dungeons from each other. This can create a sense of disorientation at times when exploring, due to the winding patterns, disjointed rooms and hidden objects.

The sound for this release has that distinct NIS sound to it, which fans of Disgaea will recognize quite easily. The environmental music has an upbeat fantasy feel to it, with a mix of piano, strings and wind instruments that work very well together, as they contrast with the intense battle themes and the music used during narrative sections. The voice overs for this game are available in both English and Japanese, with fully voiced story segments and in game character lines that are performed very well.

Final Thoughts – I had previous experience with the Labyrinth series, having played Labyrinth of Refrain and having a good time with it. So going into this I expected more of the same, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that the systems had been overhauled to an extent and quality of life changes have been implemented. There is a charm that the titles from NIS have, with their distinct art and sound that have appeared in this title too.

There are a few minor flaws with the game, which aren’t game breaking but can be inconvenient. When playing the game in handheld, the text can be a little small and go by very quickly. There is also a very occasional stutter when loading different parts of the game, but as mentioned above, they aren’t serious. So with that said, I have no issue recommending this game to all fans of Dungeon Crawlers or JRPGS. It is an excellent game with multiple endings to explore and a lot of content to offer.

In the end, I give Labyrinth of Galleria: The Moon Society a final score of 4.5/5. This is an excellent title and a perfect successor to Labyrinth of Refrain, as it takes what made that title fun and charming, expands on it and creates something entirely new. The characters, story and gameplay loop all mix together to create an experience that will keep players invested the entire time. If you want to check this out for yourself, a link to each version of the game is below.

Link to Nintendo Switch version (HERE)

Link to PlayStation version (HERE)

Link to Steam version (HERE)

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