Labyrinth of Touhou 2

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Warning! This review is informal and unorganized.

Labyrinth of Touhou 2 is a Touhou fangame. Unlike many Touhou fangames and the mainline Touhou series itself, this game has a serious mood that makes
good use of the characters available for once. Instead of them being stupid jokesters, the characters, while still having really simple reasons
to join your quest, are relatable and interesting. This lends really well to a game that is otherwise based in gameplay as this is a dungeon
crawler RPG. Every character you get feels important, although you can still use just about any character you want. There are no distinct weaknesses
or strengths for most party members besides element variety and healing since you can make them as strong as you want as long as you are willing to grind.
The center of the game is to explore a giant tree that has sprouted in the center of Gensokyo. In my opinion, the giant tree is a good idea for a Touhou
"incident" as well as a good setting for a dungeon crawler in general.

Based on what I have outlined above, Labyrinth of Touhou 2 has a lot going for it. Even though it is a dungeon crawler, it has depth and personality
(even while having generic enemies). The game is full of touches that make the game simply well done everywhere it needs to be. One thing I really like is
how attack visual effects are highly designed based on Danmaku attacks or characters' signature traits. The music is also good, even though it can be unfitting
and uninspired. The most important thing, in my opinion, for a game you have a lot to slog through is making things as easygoing as possible while still
providing satisfying depth. The music (except the village music) does this job very well. On the other hand, I have no idea whether the soundtrack is original
or not. I have encountered games with good music that used freely available or commonly purchased music in the past so indie games have more of a murky
clarity when it comes to whether all assets are original. The amazing and original part about this game is its combat and stat systems. While you only get
a few character skills (unless it is plus version), you also get abilities or traits that you can level up if you open up the pause menu in Gensokyo. This
is the part of the game which makes up most of the depth in the non-plus version. Characters will be able to strengthen various stats based on requirements
being met, making each character more specialized in how you want to use them. For example, Suika has a variety of traits that make her especially strong
in prolonged fights, one of which increases damage based on how low the enemy's health is, and another that applies random buffs or healing every turn as if Suika was drinking sake and gaining benefits from it.

The stats in Labyrinth of Touhou 2 are very flexible, as mentioned earlier. You get to level up characters and select one stat to strengthen per level up
like a classic Shin Megami Tensei game. However, you also get all of your stats increased per level up. Additionally, your stat growth is based on "base"
stats, which are very important since their numbers are much smaller than your total stats and they are multiplied to calculate how strong your stats get.
There are items that increase base stats which are mostly obtained after defeating a boss below its challenge level. Thankfully, even this is a bit
flexible as the game gives you a method to increase base stats until every character is full if you choose to grind it out (each character's base stats
only increase until 10 have been applied). If it is not clear already, this game is very complex on the gameplay front. In general, the game accepts the
most basic JRPG gameplay system while embracing all of the freedom that programming your own game allows. ONe really neat feature showing this philosophy
off is the ability to press the M key in order to set your encounter rate to full and immediately encounter your next fight. Even without this trick,
experience points are quite generous, making the leveling system more something to play around with rather than something to wish you could do more with.

Another way in which you are allowed to strengthen characters in this game is Patchouli's Library. She will use money to increase your character's
individual stats and the amount needed increases as these stats gain levels. Unlike most games, you can even increase your elemental resistances here,
although it will cost you an appropriately large amount. Considering how much lower the elemental stat numbers are, it is well worth your money to do some
work on them. However, those who have good base elemental resistance in specific stats will also have an easier time leveling those stats by a large margin.
These stat increases are just about permanent, but you can actually reset your characters in Patchouli's library, but this will set every stat to money
level 0 while not decreasing your level, although that can also be done in the level up place (Hakurei Shrine), giving you everything you need to customize
a playthrough as often as you need And thankfully yes, you will get all of your money back. Also, resetting to lower experience levels in Hakurei Shrine
will reset your ability points. Oddly enough, this does not get rid of abilities you've learned, but it does make your ability points negative preventing
you from doing anything truly ridiculous. The benefit of keeping abilities on lower levels is that you can lower your characters to challenge level and
fight with more abilities as well as stronger abilities than you should have. If you want to truly reset your learned abilities, I believe Patchouli is for
that. Her resetting services might cost an item unfortunately, but I'm not sure.

With all of that out of the way, we can move on to maps. The game takes place in a pretty massive dungeon.Most floors are big and will take a while
to explore, especially if your game doesn't run at 60 frames per second. But another thing that keeps the speed of the game slowed down is that enemies
go against a more casual game's philosophy and have enough strength to kill in one hit from the beginning of the game. I think the balance of the enemies
and bosses is what characterizes most RPGs and Labyrinth of Touhou 2 generally makes enemies very threatening while not unfairly strong (except in the
post game, which is poorly balanced and a big mess unfortunately). Most of the difficulty in the game comes from deciding on the right stats to increase
and the right elemental resistances. Additionally, equipment is really important for the most part and Nitori provides the game's crafting system which
uses materials in a typical way. However, you won't know what you can make most of the time until you get a material that can be used in crafting something.
Unfortunately, I really feel that LAbyrinth of Touhou 2's crafting system is a bit of a major pain. Drop rates are too low and the increase in drop rates
is possible to increase, but it just doesn't work too well. You will have a surplus of materials that seem almost useless and the items available more
prolifically later on are usually outdated for what they craft. And there are still some items that just never get a more prolific enemy to drop them.
Nitori's item shop is hardly useful either, with main equipment and more basic sub equipment sold in there, but you will basically be guaranteed not to
need them by the time you can really afford them. Main equipment is so specialized that you will most likely not use the same equipment on too different
characters within a given party.Also, there are main equipment which provide HP Recovery percentage boosts, but it is not clear what those are except maybe
healing in reserve which is pretty useless at the rates given.

In Labyrinth of Touhou 2, you are essentially expected to die. One character is even recruited by having you die enough times. The only way to be 100%
sure you will survive is to play very safe and grind and leave the tree often. This is because bosses are made to be truly menacing. If you don't prepare
characters properly for a specific boss, that boss may easily kill you without allowing you to score more than a few points of damage (or possibly no
damage at all). Equipment is generally how you can get to a point where you can damage high defense bosses, as well as elemental weakness experimenting.
Overall, the game, despite really threatening enemies, doesn't feel too hard just because of how many resources you have available to you and grinding
being very painless compared to most punishing RPGs (although most of those would make leveling up restricted or something). This is a game that really
allows you to go at whatever pace you want as long as you try hard enough and aren't tired of game overs.

The most flawed area of the game is its post-game, which is sad. Ever since I played Megaman Battle Network 3, I fell in love with the idea of post-game
areas, but it is rare to see them done well. With how well done the rest of the game was, I had high hopes for Labyrinth of Touhou 2. Unfortunately, the
post-game here feels like a total desert and the extra bosses don't feel fair or balanced, with some of the harder to reach ones being easier than ones
that you have to beat before them. The last pieces of equipment are pretty cool, but it feels like there was nothing truly appropriate to fight them with
the absolute last fight of the game feels like a complete joke since it is easier than other bosses you fought earlier and it adds nothing to the game at all. It almost feels like a punishment actually, but not in a meaningful way.

Labyrinth of Touhou 2 - 98% score

Yes, the game has its fair share of annoyances with Nitori, equipment and post-game but the game gives you so much freedom that it seems difficult
to find any true flaw with how the game was made. Most RPGs are in desperate need of good fundamentals and nearly all of them fail on their fundamentals
in some way, but Labyrinth of Touhou 2 has such a strong core that even something that seems like it is obscenely strong feels like it could be overcome.
Not to mention how great the star power of Touhou characters is and how well they are used for the most part. As far as I am concerned, the only game that
outdoes Labyrinth of Touhou 2 is its plus disk, but of course it can't simply replace any game outside of the quality gameplay.