Like most roguelikes, Lost Labyrinth doesn't really have much of a story. Well, it does insofar as you have to find pieces of a certain staff, but so far nothing much happens even when you do manage to find all of them. Mostly it's about going deeper into the dungeon, killing monsters and picking up everything you can get your greedy little hands on. Theoretically you could even leave out the bit about killing monsters, since Lost Labyrinth is the first RPG I ever played in which experience points are irrelevant for gaining levels: you gain levels by reaching the stairs down to the next level - and note that once you've taken the stairs down, there's no way of going back again, so you'd better explore the levels properly. Otherwise you may miss important features like pools (to refill your water bottles), secret libraries and randomly generated merchants who buy and sell items.
Whether you're going to like Lost Labyrinth rather depends on what you expect. If you expect it to be as deep and complex as ADoM or ZandbandTK, you're probably going to be disappointed. Lost Labyrinth is far more simplistic than those two, but it can be a great game if you just want to kill some time - in fact, you'll probably end up killing more of it than you intended. But before you discard the game as too short, note that although the game's website advertises the game's 'relatively short gameplay (about 10-20 minutes)', there is a character in the highscore list who managed to survive for an amazing 11 hours. (Having said that, it still beats me how the player managed to achieve that; my longest-lived characters died after about an hour).
Unlike in other roguelikes, there are no random stats generated for your character, which means you can basically play the same character all over again if you like. Instead, you have to select character 'traits' at the beginning. Those traits are somewhat similar to the 'talents' in ADoM. What makes it interesting, however, is that you can select more traits by choosing up to four negative traits for your character (for example by making him illiterate or unable to cast spells). There are lots of possible combinations, so you can play different types of magic users, warrior types or a combination of both. Playing a pure warrior is perhaps most difficult of all, since some monsters can only be harmed by magic, so unless you manage to get hold of a magical weapon, you may get stuck rather quickly if one of those monsters is blocking yur way to the exit. After selecting your character's traits, you can choose among 28 different animated sprites. You'll only get to enter a name if you make it to the highscore list, though, which saves you from having to come up with a name for every loser that died after twenty turns. (By the way, if you do achieve a highscore, it's even possible to upload it to the game's website).
The first thing you need to do after creating your character is to equip your armour (if you have any) and weapon. Make sure you don't drop them by mistake; it's very easy to do that, unfortunately, and there's no way of retrieving items once you have dropped them. The second thing is to lit your light source (usually a torch). Yes, that's right, 'lit' it. The game sometimes lapses into a form of newspeak: to extinguish your lamp, you need to 'unlit' it again. The reason for this is of course that the game wasn't originally written in English: Frank Malota, the game's creator, is German. But you get used to seeing rats 'calling in reinforcements' rather quickly, actually.
Leaving these small language issues aside (which are rather amusing and don't affect the gameplay in any way), Lost Labyrinth is quite unique in that it is perhaps the first ever bilingual roguelike: there is an option to change languages, so you can play the game in German if you like (which is a slightly odd but nevertheless unique experience). You can even change languages mid-game.
Graphics and Music:
There isn't much to be said about the graphics and music in Lost Labyrinth. Neither is particularly exciting, but they're not bad either.
If you want a complex game, you'd probably be better off playing ADoM or ZangbandTK, but if you always thought those games were far too complicated and just want a nice little roguelike for beginners, which is a bit more challenging than Castle of the Winds and which has decent graphics as well, you're going to like Lost Labyrinth. I liked it, even though I'm actually a great fan of ADoM's confusing key commands, which is why my overall verdict would still be 'doubleplusgood' (4.8).
Note: The version I played was 4.010e, but there are updates at regular intervals. The current version is 4.011f. Be sure to check the website for updates. There's also a forum which will give you some insight into the playing strategies of those amazing people who manage to get past level 300.
Review by: A. J. Raffles
Safe for all ages
Windows with DirectX 7.0