The PlayStation Mobile section of Vita's PlayStation Store is home to some interesting little games, but I can't help wondering how many people pass it by.
I know for a fact that some people will completely pass up games that do not have trophy support -- in other words, PlayStation Mobile and PlayStation Minis games -- and others who have such distaste for mobile games that the idea of exploring the PlayStation Mobile category is just unthinkable.
To those people, I say you're missing out on some interesting experiences. They may not be the most high-budget, high-quality games on the market, but if you're looking for fun, low-cost diversions that are particularly suited to quick bursts of handheld play, they're a good place to look. And if your main objection to mobile games is the lack of physical controls? Well, Vita sorts that problem out perfectly well by actually, you know, having physical controls -- though of course, those with PlayStation-certified Android hardware can also get in on the fun.
But I digress. One of the latest releases on PlayStation Mobile that is worthy of your time is Adventure Bar Labyrinth, also known as Labyrinth Kingdom. It's the follow-up to a decent iOS and Android RPG called Adventure Bar Story, which was something of a twist of the Recettear/Atelier formula: one part traditional role-playing game, one part management sim. You don't need to have played Adventure Bar Story before Adventure Bar Labyrinth, but you'll recognize a few characters here and there if you do.
Adventure Bar Labyrinth follows a more traditional roguelike formula than its predecessor, but has a few twists of its own. For starters, rather than suffering permadeath when being defeated in a dungeon, you instead simply lose all your items and experience levels. While this is almost the same as being killed outright and having to start again, you don't lose any progress through the game's story -- and you can also take any knowledge you acquired on your failed run into your next attempt.
Secondly, the titular Adventure Bar plays a role in gameplay. In Labyrinth's predecessor, you'd have to cook various recipes in order to progress; in Labyrinth itself, meanwhile, you can cook various meals prior to setting out on an expedition, and these feasts will provide you with various stat and experience point bonuses.
The game also makes use of a heavy degree of randomization and experimentation -- if you're without identification spells, you can identify (and name) items yourself by swinging staffs or swigging potions. Sometimes this leads to unforeseen and unfortunate consequences, but such is the way of the roguelike.
The game is free-to-play, but doesn't employ any player-unfriendly progress-throttling systems such as timers or energy meters; instead, players have the option of purchasing a hard currency with real money and using this to either acquire powerful premium items or resurrecting after an unfortunate mishap in the dungeon. From the little I played, there doesn't seem to be any real need to do this; you acquire decent enough items just through dungeon crawling, so the paid-for items are essentially paying for the ability to cheat or make the game easier.
Find out more about the game on the official website -- and if you progress far enough, you can enter special passwords onto that site for additional content.