At Anberyl Girls Academy there is a cave that, for most of the year remains sealed behind sturdy gates. It can only be entered on the date of the school’s founding. Legend has it that a chalice of beauty lies somewhere within. Those who find it may have any wish fulfilled. Today those gates are open.
Aina Akemiya’s adventure starts with a simple wish. As a student at this all girls school, Aina has been surrounded by her female peers the whole time. Being a self-conscious teenager this has lead her to feel somewhat envious of other girls around her.
Where some in a similar situation may wish to lose weight (or to gain it), Aina wants to address the one part of her body she is most displeased with; her bust size. She desperately wants to ditch her B-cup bras for significantly larger ones. To become a woman others will admire.
But as with many adventures, circumstances and goals change. Aina’s journey quickly becomes less about bigger boobs and far more about discovering herself. Proving her worth and being there for her friends ultimately takes priority. Summed up, Omega Labyrinth is a dungeon crawler about growth.
On the surface Omega Labyrinth uses fan servicey charms — with a focus on appreciating the female form — to appeal to its target audience. At its core, it offers up an unforgiving rogue-like experience that will punish those who aren’t careful; and in doing so, further proves that this growing sub-set of Japanese games is far more than the excuse for fan service they tend to be written off as.
That said, ignoring how Omega Labyrinth wraps itself around the allure of the female body would also be doing the game a disservice, as great lengths have been taken in this respect. The first of which is seen in the title itself which is presented as ω Labyrinth. The lowercase Greek letter Omega being used to trace the contours of Aina’s breasts.
In-game, ω is used to represent Omega power which Aina collects upon defeating foes. According to the fairy Pai (her name most likely derived from “Oppai” — a Japanese word for breasts) this power stores most easily within a girl’s boobs. Thus we have a great excuse to ensure there are no playable male characters to get in the way.
During her quest, Aina’s wish does in fact come true — even if it is only temporary. As she collects Omega power her bust increases. This raises her base stats and makes her a little stronger. Sadly, upon leaving the cave, Aina’s bust returns to its B-cup size and her stats reset.
In true rogue-like fashion, all characters start from level 1 every time they begin a run through the cave system. Permanently boosting stats is only possible through using the Blissful Arousal game mechanic. Here, a range of aroma items are used to gain access to special situations in which (for a limited number of times) you can touch the girls.
Do this well enough while using certain questionable items, such as “that vibrating thing”, and you can further enhance the girl’s current fantasy — they’ll even start to indicate where they want to be touched. For example, during Aina’s fantasy of cleaning the school pool on a summer day she likes to be touched on her thigh. Taking advantage of this grants even more experience towards a permanent upgrade in the form of extra HP or active skills.
Playing the Blissful Arousal mini game can be a little embarrassing at first. Aina is more often than not likely to make noises more akin to when performing lewd acts. Although asides from being able to jiggle her breasts there is very little actual sexual content in Omega Labyrinth. But this is all part of the fan service aspect of the game.
Scenarios are intentionally suggestive; during her pool cleaning fantasy Aina delicately holds a hose in a manner that could with a little stretch of the imagination on the player’s part imply a penis. As her fantasy deepens and the background blurs into a pink mist, the water droplets as well as the stream of water coming from hose take on a slightly more adult meaning. Pink, as in the term “Pink film” is often used to imply nudity or sexual acts in Japan.
As with Omega Labyrinth (and other games of its type), Pink films, being generally speaking soft core in nature, are more about suggestion rather than exhibition. Both remain on the right side of government enforced censorship and platform owner guidelines, while still proving titillating for their respective audiences. It is the lack of graphic, readily identifiable, sex acts that work in their favour.
Where possible Pink films opt to use clever object placement and camera positioning to ensure that genitalia (and actual penetration) is never visible. This ultimately, some argue, allows the viewer to be engaged more; for it is their own mind that will fill in the blanks. This is in contrast to the Adult Video scene which is more about outright pornographic content; albeit hidden behind a mosaic. While it obscures genitalia, it also leaves far less to the viewer’s imagination.
Omega Labyrinth employs similar tricks of implication and suggestion to inject hints of sexual content throughout its fan service elements but, at least in the opening stages of the game, avoids any hints of Yuri (light lesbianism) undertones between characters. This is in contrast to other similar ‘girl games’ where Yuri and enjoyment of certain sexual kinks is quickly established.
It may be that developers Matrix opted to hold back on such implications until a time that the Omega Labyrinth series could be seen as an established one. Such moves have been seen in other established franchises. For example with Hyperdimension Neptunia, which didn’t introduce the scary S&M loving Iris Heart until the third game.
This doesn’t stop some very brief chances for the player to imagine Yuri-like relationships. When Aina is searching for her friend Nako, she comes across a D-cup bra that she instantly identifies as being Nako’s without a doubt. When quizzed about it Aina quickly reveals that she chose that bra while out shopping with Nako.
This could just be friends out shopping and comfortable with selecting each other’s underwear. It could be that Aina just wanted to imagine what such a bra would look on her; if she had a similarly sized bust. Whichever it is, is left to the whims of the player as the scene quickly changes focus to Pai’s admiration for boobs requiring a D-cup.
Although Pai’s sexual preference is not made clear, she is a self confessed booby lover. As with the running theme, the bigger the better. She also seems somewhat able to judge cup sizes at a mere glance, even when certain girls may be trying very hard to conceal their true sizes. Given her boob fetish is not surprising that her suggestive comments are focused on that part of the body.
A staple of many dungeon crawlers is the need to identify items before you can utilise them. Omega Labyrinth is no different and uses this as an opportunity for the player to get up close and personal with a pair of breasts. Given her character, this is one of Pai’s favourite activities; as her excitement when asking the player who’s breasts will be used shows. At the start of the game only Aina can be selected. Something Aina is not too fond of given she has an inferiority complex when it comes to the small stature of her boobs.
The identification process, with its overt similarities to paizuri, is as brazen as Omega Labyrinth comes to implying the player is partaking (to some extent) in a sexual act. While a penis would be placed between the breasts for paizuri performed between consenting adults during foreplay, Omega Labyrinth replaces this with a small white cylindrical object. This object is then brought to its climax by stimulating the breasts.
Omega Labyrinth’s story is a little vague on who is performing this act the first time it is introduced. While it is likely that Aina (or whichever girl you select once that becomes possible) is performing the act by herself, comments from her friend Saeri, telling Aina to do it without being embarrassed about it, could be interpreted that Saeri is helping.
It doesn’t help that the fan service element of this game mechanic is just a vague. On one hand you can take the comment “Don’t be so rough!” from Aina as a confirmation that another one of the girls is rubbing her breasts to stimulate the object. On the other, this could just be a break in the fourth-wall to help include the player in the proceedings, so that they can imagine performing paizuri with the girl of their choice.
This is just another way in which Omega Labyrinth uses fan service elements to imply a deeper sexual meaning than is likely actually present. Yet, the allusion to the actual paizuri sex act goes further still. As the object is stimulated it increases in size and its colour changes to a deep red as if engorged. At the end, it climaxes in an explosion of white sparks leaving a somewhat blushing girl to comment on the obtained items.
Unlike Blissful Arousal and identifying items which engage with the player by having them take an active roll in the respective process, fusing items to strengthen or alter them is a wholly passive affair. All the player can do is select the two items to be used. After this, Pai will go behind a pink curtain and perform the fusion. Just what she does, is left to the imagination with only suggestive sounds and a silhouette of her form as an in-game representation.
A rogue-like wouldn’t be nasty if it didn’t have its fair share of randomly placed traps to catch unwary adventurers off guard. In addition to standard traps, such as spikes, confusion spells, and hazards to make you drop items, Omega Labyrinth also has the dreaded washboard trap.
This will immediately strip a girl of her bust sizing; forcing her to an A-cup. The resulting shock renders all special skills unusable for a time until her bust size reverts back. There are 20 special traps, such as pitfalls, which employed to present a tiny bit more fan service to the player.
In the case of the pitfall, the girl will be stuck allowing the player ample opportunity to fondle various parts. Although, for Aina at least, only her breasts and legs will get any reaction. Like with the identification process, the player is not forced to partake in this fan service opportunity. Both can be skipped with no change to the outcome.
As I stated previously though, Omega Labyrinth isn’t just fan service. Underneath the fleshy exterior is a game that progressively becomes more challenging. As with similar rouge-like dungeon crawlers, the same tried and tested basic formula is used here.
All characters start at level 1 on entering a semi-randomly generated dungeon. Aina, or whichever girl you chose as the leader, will also have a full stomach and limited inventory space in the form of a 30 slot bag. This inventory also includes any items you take with you, except those currently equipped.
Three types of equipable items are available, weapons, shields, and — in the place of armour — underwear. Where other dungeon crawlers may have you equipping chainmail or suits of armour, Omega Labyrinth has you using training bras, warrior panties and so forth in their place. All equipable items can be imbued with specific traits. These may increase HP, or provide extra damage to certain enemy types.
In the case of panties and bras however, they will also have the chance of coming with a less desirable characteristic; the easily stolen trait. There are thieves within the dungeon (borne from the desire to obtain sexy underwear) and if you don’t kill them quickly they have the tendency to steal an item from your inventory and teleport away. If you wish to get retrieve the item, you will have to hunt the specific thief down before you leave the current floor.
At least with the thieves you have a chance of reclaiming your lost item. However there is a certain enemy (summoned from the feelings of hunger experienced by girls who are forcing themselves to diet) which can permanently turn any item in your inventory into burnt bread. In total there are 52 different types of enemy (including bosses) to face while dungeon crawling.
This can be somewhat disastrous when it happens to a safety net item, such as the Escape book. Should you run out of HP without having one of the range of insurance items that exist within Omega Labyrinth, you will lose everything. Depending on the type of insurance item you use, you can either retain earned ω power and equipped items, or your full inventory.
The abundance of dropped items during a dungeon run and the increasing number of floors that need to be traversed does mean that sooner or later game play in Omega Labyrinth comes to a crawl if, like me, you are a pack rat. The 30 slot inventory results in a lot of item juggling and the need to make harsh decisions on what to keep.
Even when finding a somewhat weak piece of equipment, you may end up wanting to keep it for the traits it carries. While fusion can only increase base stats during same item pairings, it is possible to carry over traits from different equipment. The number of traits you can have depends on how many slots on the base item selected for the fusion. Pair the correct different weapons or shields, etc., and you can also end up fusing an entirely different more powerful weapon.
Boiling Omega Labyrinth down to its core experience, you could sum it up as a grind. This is, of course, true for other similar rogue-like games which opt to not include so-called hard core elements such as permanent death. In Omega Labyrinth’s case, there are only 10 dungeons throughout the story. Which means you’ll be revisiting most of them many times as you attempt to grow strong enough to proceed to the next one.
In addition to the hope of finding sweet items, such as the essences required for performing Blissful Arousal, there are incentives to encourage revisiting past dungeons. Each trip within a dungeon is scored and the highest score is recorded. Dungeons also have several challenges, the completion of which award a score bonus. Clear all such challenges and this will be represented with a golden crown against that dungeon on the select screen.
Completing the story mode also unlocks 6 new challenge dungeons which offer unique dungeon rules. One such dungeon contains 99 floors and doesn’t allow your base level to increase. Another only drops unidentified items and awards insufficient ω power. Naturally such dungeons are only for those who have levelled sufficiently with Blissful Arousal and enjoy a harsh challenge.
Further, there are both enemy and item encyclopaedias for you to attempt to fill out. While each of the different special traps and events scenes can also be replayed as many times as you wish; once you purchase them from the in-game store. Thus you’ll be grinding out ω power for those too.
Having been developed for the PlayStation Vita, touch controls and even motion sensing have been employed for the fan service elements. With the exception of the motion sensing (optionally used to jiggle breasts during item identification), this control scheme has transitioned fairly well to the Vita TV. If you use a PS4 controller for the Vita TV you can make use of the centre slide pad for all touch based inputs.
While it can be a little difficult to grope both breasts simultaneously on the Vita TV, the use of the PS4 controller’s slide pad does retain the idea of directly touching the girls’ boobs to some extent. This is lost when using a PS3 controller as the analogue sticks are used for touch controls instead.
Accessing the many available actions while in a dungeon is also easy. Holding triangle and pressing up, right, down, or left, allows for quick access to your inventory, fusing, items at your feet, and equipped items respectively. Identifying items is also possible in a dungeon from the inventory screen, but it carries a far higher cost then when performed back at school.
The R button (or R2 when playing on Vita TV) access the Ring menu. This provides access to all usable skills and items, although with the need to navigate through layers, for some items it may actually be faster to access them directly from the inventory screen. Unfortunately, there does not appear to be any easy access to the actions log that displays at the bottom of the screen, which means you can miss some information.
Sadly, Omega Labyrinth is unlikely to see a release outside Japan. As such the question of how playable the game is for a non-Japanese speaking audience deserves some looking at. All text makes full use of kanji. There is no furigana displayed above the kanji to help with reading. However, the story is fully voiced.
Each story scene is also available to view again via the Library (and these don’t need to be purchased from the in-game store first). Most scenes also have access to a log, where you can replay any line. Even so, if you have no or little understanding of Japanese the story will not be making any sense.
Gameplay relies on use of written Japanese and onscreen prompts (to indicate where to touch in relevant scenes). It is certainly possible to bluff your way through most menus with a little help from kanji lookup sites and perhaps even Google Translate. You will struggle through with item descriptions; being able to read these would be a huge benefit. That said, some trial and error will also help you work out what an item does, if you have zero Japanese knowledge.
The story is not a difficult one to follow, neither for the most part, are the item or monster descriptions. Armed with basic grammar knowledge and a decent dictionary, Omega Labyrinth may prove a useful game for learners of Japanese; particularly if already familiar with similar style rogue-likes.
The text font used is also clear (especially when playing via Vita TV) and even complicated kanji with many brush strokes are readily distinguishable. Te use of some real world settings (mainly the school) may also make the vocabulary encountered through playing useful to learners too.
If you are looking for fan service, love boobs, and enjoy a decent dungeon crawler, Omega Labyrinth would certainly be worth looking at as a potential import if the language barrier is not an issue. However, given how the PlayStation Vita only allows for one region account, I would suggest tracking down a physical copy instead of trying to buy digitally.
Screenshots were taken by the author.
Omega Labyrinth was purchased from a retail store.