Hello Eorzeans, and welcome to Secrets of a Realm. In this episode we’ll return to Thanalan, to uncover yet another buried secret. Thanalan was mostly just yellow sand and brown mountains. With the odd tree and cactus here and there, to make it feel less dreary. One particular area of Thanalan was not like the others though. The Red Labyrinth. The Red Labyrinth was located in the lower section of Southern Thanalan.
The name’s origin is somewhat unknown, at least in terms, but after I made the Remnants of a Realm episode covering Southern Thanalan and The Red Labyrinth, a viewer made me aware of something I had never seen before. Under some unknown conditions, seemingly at random, the mountains of The Red Labyrinth would change from their regular brown-ish color to a vibrant red. Apparently this was very rarely observed, and appeared to be more of a glitch that was never corrected. It’s possible the mountains were supposed to be this red all the time, hence the red color of the map, but we may never really know.
Let me know in the comments if you have any information about this! I’d love to know! So I assume we have our answer. The Red Labyrinth is in fact this area. However, in ARR, the labyrinth is presented as more of a dungeon, and is apparently so dangerous, you need an escort to get through it. It doesn’t even show us the inside. It just throws us out the other end. Just northt of The Red Labyrinth Aetherial Gate, there were openings in the ground, similar to the entrance to the Sand Caves. Two of the openings are actual entrances, the other two are shallow holes in the ground. Back in this was often referred to as “The Antling Burrows”, because of the large amounts of ants in the area. Who am I to argue with the community – The Antling Burrows it is! Entering the Antling Burrows, you’d encounter a Brass Blade by the name of Gembert, who would say: “Journey elsewhere, adventurer. This way is not open to you.” Walking past Gembert, you would almost immediately encounter an invisible wall, preventing further passage.
You can also see the obvious connection between the overworld and the dungeon’s yellow tint. Passing the wall I’m immediately reminded of the Sand Caves. There’s no doubt about it. This dungeon will be using the Sand Cave and Cutter’s Cry assets. Surprisingly, it doesn’t go that deep down. I’m almost immediately greeted by a long hallway, filled with ant eggs, mushrooms, and these glowing rocks. Does anyone in the comments know what this rock is? I believe it made a return in Cutter’s Cry, but I’m not exactly sure what they are… The tunnel twists and turns, slowly bringing me deeper below ground. The walls are lined with ant eggs and mushrooms, as well as these yellow flower things. Other than that, there’s nothing. No sign of Eorzean activity, no man-made objects. Just eggs and mushrooms. After a lengthy walk through long musty tunnels, I find myself in this large chamber with three different exits. I can’t really tell if this is supposed to be a boss room, or just a large intersection area. Considering the open nature of this dungeon, I doubt we’d encounter a traditional boss here.
My best guess would be just a generic large room with mobs in them. I decided to use my classic tactic of moving as linearly as possible to reach the potential second exit or end. We have to keep in mind that the Sand Caves had a second exit at the other end. There is a slight chance this one will have that too. Once I pass through the southernmost exit, the scenery changes to the two-layered one we also observed in the Sand Caves. However, I don’t think I’ve seen the room stretch this far ahead. It’s usually curved around a bit more, to hide the obvious copy-paste nature of the dungeon design. The dungeon appears vast this way. And honestly, the copy-paste doesn’t feel too apparent here.
So far it’s been done pretty subtly, but you do start to recognize certain sections fairly quickly. I reach yet another large room. This time, there are only two possible exits. This room looks almost identical to the one I entered earlier, but this one feels darker, despite having light shine through what you’d assume to be a hole in the ceiling, letting a little bit of sunlight in, despite it being the middle of the night. Well, hate to break it to ya, there is no hole in the ceiling. It’s just the classic light painted on the ground trick. The south is still an option, so I press on. I wander through even more egg-filled tunnels. And here’s an example of why these rooms usually curve around to hide the copy pasting.
Here you can see the same section duplicated, mirrored, and then placed right after the other. This is one of the worst cases of blatant copy-pasting I’ve seen in a dungeon so far and might be an indication of its state of completion. After even more walking, through dark, sandy corridors filled with mushrooms and ant eggs, I reach ANOTHER room, and yes, it’s almost 100% identical to the room I was in prior to this. Down to the fake floor lights. At this point I really started to notice the color filter used in this dungeon. It’s this beige-greenish dust-looking filter that appears as some sort of render fog in the distance. I don’t know if it’s meant to look like darkness, or just… dust… but the intensity seemed to go up the further down I went. As I pass through what I assume to be the southern exit of the large room, I catch a glimpse of my mini map.
I’m now headed north. Confusion sets in. Is this just the dungeon’s shape forcing me back north, or have I somehow started to walk in circles? I keep walking, hoping I haven’t lost my mind. It’s actually one of the worst feelings you can get when mapping these dungeons. You don’t have a real map of the dungeons, so if you feel like you’re walking in circles, you just might be – or you might not.
You might end up in an endless loop, and waste hours. I reach a boss room again. I’m not even sure if I’ve been here before or not. They all seem to blend together now. I keep walking forward. Now heading north. Changing direction now could make everything worse. After a few minutes of confusion, I start encountering corridors I can’t remember having encountered. And the dungeon suddenly starts sloping downward again. There’s no loop. The dungeon is simply designed this way. And then I end up in another large room. This time it’s different. It’s larger in size. Pretty much identical to the one seen in the Sand Caves. Only difference here being that the entrance is at the top. There are no other exits here. This is the end of the line.
For fun, I went back and walked through some of the alternate routes. These would lead to other massive tunnels and rooms. I found no secondary exit. The dungeon does not seem to hide anything unique inside either. It’s mostly just a lazier version of the Sand Caves. So far I’ve not mentioned the ambience of this dungeon. Throughout most of the dungeon you’d only be hearing this dark, droning sound. It’s ominous, and sounds similar to the ambience heard in the Sand Caves. Entering large rooms, like the ones with the fake light shafts from the ceiling, you’d hear a slightly brighter droning sound… And the last room, has the same sound, but darker, more ominous. Other than that, there’s NOTHING. I turned off all the game sounds except for the sound effects, and there’s not a single sound to be heard.
No sound of sand falling from the ceiling, nothing. The sound of my footsteps were ear-deafening though, that echo could blow your eardrums out. So in conclusion, this dungeon does appear to be maze-like in structure. Especially without a map. It would utilize tricks like having a path branch off into two without you really noticing by having the path gently turn, and then have a wall gradually rise from the ground, separating you from your desired path. Though this would be easy to spot on a map. Was this supposed to tie in to the Red Labyrinth? Or is it simply a generic sand dungeon with ants? Hard to tell.
I leave that to you, Eorzeans. Let me know in the comments! Thank you for watching this episode of SoaR. I’ll be back next month. Until then Eorzeans, may you ever WAlk in thE ligHTo F tHeCRYs— .
As found on Youtube