Labyrinth Of Zangetsu Review – A Unique, Ink-Stained Take on Dungeon Crawlers

Dungeon crawling has been a staple in RPGs since their inception. Since the first games of Dungeons and Dragons, players have enjoyed exploring catacombs and tombs in search of rare treasures while fighting fantastical foes.

While tabletop RPGs still exist, games like Legend of Grimrock have brought the same grid-based experience to modern gaming. Though those dungeon crawlers exist in a typical Western fantasy setting, KaeruPanda’s Labyrinth of Zangetsu takes a more unique approach to the genre.

The Story of Labyrinth of Zangetsu

Labyrinth of Zangetsu takes place during a fictional era of Japan called Ido, likely based on the Edo period. in this universe, an evil ink has taken over the land, turning everything it touches into a vile creature. The Ink of Ruin is destroying the world, and some of the last remnants of humanity have hidden away in a village also named Ido.

Those who are able to resist its power have grouped together to defend humanity’s last hope and rid the land of the ink and the monstrosities it’s formed. This group, known as the Blightbane, fight tirelessly to complete their mission. The story isn’t overly complex, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s straightforward, yet fantastical in its writing and presentation.


Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a grid-based dungeon crawler with turn-based combat. You move through each level square-by-square, uncovering the area’s treasures and adversaries. Though it may sound simple, it’s anything but.

There’s a few different layers to the gameplay loop, and understanding each one is essential to conquering each dungeon and eventually defeating the Ink of Ruin.

Assembling a Party

Before going into a dungeon, you must first choose your party members. You’re given a handful in the beginning, but you’re free to create as many characters as you want. You can choose between several classes, each with their own specialties and strengths. Thieves are better at breaking locks, mages are well adept in magic, and so forth.

When selecting your members, pay attention to who is in the front and who is in the rear of the party. That will make a world of difference later. Remember to build your party carefully, as your capabilities are limited by your conscripts’ skills. Synergy is important for any play style.

Loot – Discovering, Observing, and Using Items

As you traverse the land, you will find many opportunities to gain wealth and weaponry. You can do this in a few different ways. You can hold triangle to search any square on the map, sometimes leading to new passageways and hidden chests. Chests can also be found through normal exploration, discovering them in little corners of dungeons. You can also gain them from different fights and encounters.

To use or equip anything you find, you must first observe the newly found items. What may appear as medicine could be holy water, used to fight the undead, or maybe that stick you picked up is actually a powerful weapon. You won’t know if you never observe them.

Traversing the Land

Each map is divided up into a bunch of 1×1 squares, sort of like a chessboard. As you explore the environments, these squares appear in your minimap, making backtracking easier. You can walk around normally or activate stealth mode, making it easier to avoid unwanted encounters. Beware, though, as it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of combat scenarios.


When moving throughout the land, you will encounter clouds of smoke. These clouds not only block your vision of the area ahead, but they also contain enemies. While it can sometimes be avoided, usually you will run into trouble. When you do, you will be presented with the enemies that you’ve run into, displayed like a turn-based RPG.

To fight, you simply choose which actions each character will perform. Rather than choosing one at a time, however, you choose each member’s action before anything occurs. Characters can attack, parry, use items or magic, or if things get really bad, run. If a specific battle plan works, you can repeat it each turn.

If you need to make adjustments to your approach between turns, you can do that too. Keep in mind that whether a character is in the front or rear of the party will determine their combat capabilities. While complex in some aspects, lesser encounters may become tedious, consisting mostly of repeating the same turn until their conclusion.

Magic is set up in old-school Final Fantasy fashion, with mages having limited magic uses per magic level.

Beautiful Inky Graphics

Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a game that is heavily stylized, using the art style of the period it’s set in to its advantage. The ink taking over has turned the landscape into a dreary, black-and-white environment that looks like you’re playing through an art piece.

It has a level of admirable beauty that shines through the grim setting. In all honesty, there is less to be observed in the sound effects department, but the music is amazing.

The game’s art direction is one of its greatest strengths.

The orchestral and eastern music really carries the energy from moment to moment. During combat, the music grows more and more overwhelming as the battle intensifies, helping convey the intensity of a critical situation.

Briefings for adventures sound and feel valiant and really make you feel like a hero preparing for battle. On the opposite side of the same coin, the music becomes calm and soothing when you’re back home in Ido, exemplifying a moment of peace.


Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a dungeon crawler RPG, and anyone who has played a game in the genre can tell you that there are potentially high levels of replayability in these games. With a story that can last for nearly 16 to 20 hours, there’s already tons of gameplay and story to get through.

If you take into account the various different parties, items you can find, and secrets to discover, there’s some pretty substantial replay value here. Fans of turn-based RPGs and dungeon crawlers can find themselves going far beyond the expected 16-hour story playthrough.


Labyrinth of Zangetsu is a dungeon crawler that gets just about everything right. It has a unique setting and style, a pretty in-depth combat system, complex party management, treasures, and a straightforward, non-convoluted story. It provides a decent challenge to satisfy hardcore players, while not being too difficult for newcomers to learn.

If you enjoy turn-based RPGs or especially dungeon crawlers, you’ll probably love Labyrinth of Zangetsu. As for newcomers to either genre, I would honestly recommend you approach with caution. Watch some videos on the game and see it in action first, because you may find it’s not your cup of tea.


  • Relatively easy to learn, hard to master
  • Beautiful art style and setting
  • Hours of story gameplay


  • Occasionally repetitive combat
  • Menus and inventories can be confusing
  • Not extremely newcomer friendly

Labyrinth of Zangetsu Review


Fans of the genre looking for a dungeon crawler that isn't western fantasy can find a lot to enjoy here. Labyrinth of Zangetsu benefits greatly from its art style and seting.

Trevor Walker
PS4 version reviewed on PS5. A review copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes.