This surreal game provides a minimalist, atmospheric experience with a haunting soundtrack and subtle lore about a mysterious past. It's equal parts relaxing and unsettling, though cut short by an abrupt, ambiguous ending.
Developed by June Flowers, LABYRINTH - Derelict Abyss is a haunting exploration game, set in a maze-like world with surreal landscapes. You'll travel up and down endless paths and secret passages, searching for 12 elusive relics that will open the Gate.
Despite being a simplistic top-down, pixel-art exploration game, LABYRINTH - Derelict Abyss effectively conjures a unique atmosphere. It's not unlike The Good Time Garden in that regard, albeit in a drastically different tone. It mixes weird, trippy visuals with a mood-setting original soundtrack (also composed by the clearly multi-talented June Flowers).
Plot-wise, the game provides very little narrative. You're left to piece the plot together through your own devices. By collecting relics, you get brief morsels of lore, with frequent references to a doomed, mysterious past. Each relic has its own personality, with some referencing concepts like the Buddhist wheel of Dharma, or simple childish glee.
As with other exploration games, like Wayward or Remnants, you should expect to get stuck in LABYRINTH - Derelict Abyss' convoluted maze at some point. When this inevitably happens, you can use the built-in hint system to guide yourself. Hints can be somewhat cryptic or hard to follow, though.
One major gripe with this indie release is its rather abrupt, unceremonious ending. After trekking your way through the maze a few dozen times to find the relics, you'd expect some fanfare. Or at least, some context. However, the mysteries that the relics allude to in their dialogues remain unsatisfyingly unresolved after an ambiguous final cinematic clip.
Brief voyage into the unknown
In true minimalist fashion, developer June Flowers has achieved a lot with very little in this title. Simple graphics, basic mechanics and an uncomplicated plot combine into a unique, memorable experience. The game is dreadfully short, though, with a rather unsatisfying ending.