Last Labyrinth leaves you tied up, arms and hands bound in a wheelchair, at the mercy of a young girl. Her name is Katia, and she’s your only way out of this meticulously detailed series of escape room puzzles, where her death (and subsequently, yours) is often the first key to finding a solution to each challenge.
Since you rely on Katia to make the game move forward — by both opening doors and pushing your wheelchair through them — Last Labyrinth is, in so few words, a polarizing experience. Every room introduces a new way for Katia to be killed off while you watch haplessly, moments before the same fate befalls you. The ‘polarizing’ bit is that this isn’t just something that happens at the end of an occasional cutscene; it’s a core gameplay loop. Luckily, you’re only forced to watch the death cutscene once per puzzle, before a skip option becomes available.
That said, Last Labyrinth is a difficult game to recommend to those with a weak stomach. Katia is killed in often brutal ways, both on and off-screen, and it should go without saying that this is not at all for the faint of heart.
Last Labyrinth’s explicit story is minimalistic. Katia speaks in a made-up language while shuffling you from puzzle room to eerie puzzle room as you attempt to evade death by pointing out buttons, clues, and hidden panels with a laser pointer that’s conveniently strapped to your forehead. There are a few twists and turns later on, but I won’t spoil those. Even with such a simple framework for interaction, the world design and art direction of Last Labyrinth both evoke enough bleak atmosphere and tension to compel you to remain curious about what’s behind the next grimy, time-worn door.
Just as the death sequences themselves become more intricate, as do the puzzles that tie the entire gameplay experience together. You can move through an entire playthrough in about three hours, depending on how quickly you manage to clear each room, but it’s possible to see (at least) three different endings, depending on the path you select near the middle of a given playthrough. There are also a surprising amount of unique puzzle designs here. Last Labyrinth doesn’t overuse the exact same gimmick, instead introducing an entirely new element in each room, even while repeating the same basic circulation of room layouts.
This variety isn’t always a good thing, though. Aside from a few rooms that feature red lights that turn green when you’ve done something right, there is no clearly defined vocabulary that ties each of the puzzles together. This makes the feeling of success that much greater when a puzzle ‘clicks’, but it also makes it easy to misread a room and get stuck far longer than is preferable. To add insult to injury, many puzzles require you to intentionally make the wrong choice at least once via permutation testing before you figure out that room’s gimmick, meaning that Katia’s death becomes an arbitrary part of gameplay after some time.
Pacing is another issue I have with Last Labyrinth. Not only does Katia require you to nod your head for affirmation each time you point at something with your laser pointer, she somehow manages to walk slower than a high school student before the first bell. And then she occasionally interacts with the wrong object, requiring you to shake your head for “No” before she’ll back out of the interaction. In fact, a solid third of the time spent solving puzzles in Last Labyrinth isn’t actually in scrambling to decode the solution, but rather in orchestrating Katia’s actions and lining puzzle pieces back up to reenact past progress after you’ve nixed a step and accidentally gotten her killed once again.
On that note, the controls in Last Labyrinth are definitely worth addressing. You point your laser by moving your head, and you activate it by hitting the ‘A’ button (at least with Touch controls). This format would regularly make the most sense on a VR system with a limited control scheme; the Oculus Go comes to mind here. But in retrospect, a broader control scheme and more interaction with the world would have actually taken away from the message that Last Labyrinth is attempting to convey. If not the message, that certainly would have hurt the atmosphere.
See, Last Labyrinth isn’t about accommodating for you. It’s not meant to be a fun game. And, between gratuitous death sequences and often frustrating puzzles, only rarely is it one. Instead, treading more closely alongside the “VR experience” path, it asks you to view the world through the eyes of somebody who can barely accommodate for themselves. The pretense wouldn’t feel as dire if it were presented as a point-and-click adventure, and the dramatic irony that you do presumably have a working mouth, hands, and legs is what creates the tension that drives things forward in Last Labyrinth.
Last Labyrinth manages to tell an interesting story about codependency and vulnerability by simply taking away your agency and giving it to a little girl that seeks your guidance and approval. Dark atmosphere, often frustrating but varied puzzle design, and deliberately limited controls add up to a compelling experience. Unfortunately, it’s marred by sluggish pacing and just a little too much gratuitous death.
Final Score: 3/5 Stars | Pretty Good
This review was conducted on an Oculus Quest.
Last Labyrinth runs on all major PC VR headsets, PlayStation VR, and Oculus Quest. You can now get Last Labyrinth on Steam, on the Oculus Store, and on the PlayStation Store. Last Labyrinth is currently MSRP’d at $40. Check out our Review Guidelines for more on our process.