Reviewed on: PlayStation Vita
The End is here, literally, and he has decided to blow up half of the earth. Join an elite group of 11 agents as they fight the end of the world, and each other, as fact becomes fiction and fiction becomes fact in Lancarse’s newest RPG Lost Dimension. Will you discover the truth or will you be betrayed by your friends?
In Lost Dimension you take over the role of Sho, the unofficial leader of a group of agents tasked with saving the world against The End. Each of the 11 characters comes with a different set of abilities to help differentiate them in combat. From being able to float over terrain to flame based attacks, each person brings something important to the table.
The bulk of the game, and it’s fun, comes from the paranoid world you’re put into. In order to scale the tower to reach The End, teammates must be sacrificed. Every floor means one more sacrifice for the greater good. But there is more than just killing off your least favorite character. There is always a traitor on each floor. Instead of going from mission to mission for the sake of scaling the tower, Sho’s special premonition ability lights up, giving hints as to who the traitor in the group is after each mission.
This mechanic ties into the gameplay beautifully as it gives a reason to keep replaying missions for more than just grinding levels. Who knows what could happen when you reach The End by killing off the wrong teammates? When they are judged, they drop an equipable cube that can be given to any of the remaining characters. This cube holds all of the unlocked and leveled abilities they had at death. If your favorite character dies, at least you can keep their abilities around.
It is not as easy as just pointing at someone and saying ‘traitor’ and at the snap of a finger they are dead. After each mission some of the group will ask you your opinion who the traitor will be as everyone has a vote in the matter. Not only do you have to find the right person but you also have to get the others to believe you. The latter is an easy task as you just keep answering with the same answer who you think the traitor is every time. It becomes a bit of a grind but it is relatively simple.
Sadly, while a lot of effort was put into this paranoid world, some of the basic fundamentals of an RPG are missing, and what is included lacks optimization. Equipment, for example, is by the book. You’ll get a new set of gear after each floor from the shop and that’s about it. Just equip the most expensive equipment and you’re set. There’s an overabundance of abilities too, which are tailored to specific characters, but many are unlikely to be used. The issue is you only get one ability point every two levels. Some of the better abilities require putting multiple points into others that you won’t need, or become obsolete to unlock.
It doesn’t help that some abilities, like Yoko’s passive to reduce San usage, requires you to put her near others. Every mission is graded and the quicker you complete the mission the better the grade. Want that S rank item drop? That means few times can you sit still and let the enemies come to you and make better use of passives like Yoko’s. Sure, if you don’t care about the ranking it doesn’t matter, but then it defeats the purpose of even having the rankings.
Combat is fun and enjoyable as the developer has found the right balance of challenge and size. There is no open world to explore. Simply pick a mission from the list and you’re warped to the area. You can pick any five remaining members to join Sho. The game doesn’t punish you for rotating your roster by giving those not used a high percentage of the experience points gained during the mission. You won’t have to worry about having your highest level character killed off during judgment time, only to be left with level one scrubs you never used.
When in combat you move your characters around the field in turn-based combat. Each weapon has a range, and as long as the attacker is on good terms with other teammates in range they will do a follow-up assist attack. There is no ammo, so half the strategy is setting up multiple assist points on the field by planning your attacks in advance.
Magic is powerful when leveled up properly but the most powerful spells and abilities require massive amount of your San (sanity) meter. Once it reaches zero from abilities or an attack your character is temporarily out of action, forcing the player to develop strategies involving more than spamming magic and abilities.
Except for some camaraderie missions, there is not much to do in the game world. This is a double-edged sword. It’s a positive because it keeps everything compact, including the missions, making the game perfect for those on the go as you can only get one or two missions done at a time. The downside, obviously, is if you don’t enjoy the combat or story, what else is there?
There is not much in the graphical department to discuss other than the 3D character designs look smooth and the anime portraits have an 80s flair to them. Even though it is not open world, I can’t remember there being any overlapping of stage designs, meaning the developer puts a lot of work into making each mission and backdrop unique.
The soundtrack starts off on a high with the opening anime theme, which could be seen weeks prior in the trailers. Inside the game, the track listing is short as each floor has their own distinct song played for missions. It fits the mood well, trying to match the theme of the instrumentals to the background. For example the second floor has more of a wilderness theme and thus the music feels more tranquil, even though it is meant for combat. There’s certainly no need to turn off the volume and put something else on. Outside of combat they do their best to ramp up the mysterious, paranoid mood by injecting appropriate music to that as well.
Lost Dimension is a unique title that tries to bring some originality to RPGs, as well as a new form of replayability. The core concept is fantastic and makes the story thought provoking. Where it falters is the basics that would bring in more of the core, treasure hunting RPG crowd to embrace the game. With few side quests and no cool equipment to search for, the game is a one-trick pony. But that trick is fun and engaging if it catches you in its web.
Reviewer’s Note: Although released on both the PS3 and Vita, this review was solely based on the Vita version.