It is the near future and the world is very much in ruin. An angry dude with magnificent hair, fittingly dubbed The End, threatens to nuke our world from orbit and lay waste to humanity as we know it. Luckily for us there is still hope. Eleven members of a secret government organization, entitled S.E.A.L.E.D, have been drafted in to save what’s left of the world. Thankfully, these guys and gals (who also have strikingly tremendous hair) not only carry guns and blades to dish out justice but also pack some serious super powers too. However, there is a catch. Within your team lies a traitor. Nightmare. So begins your journey within the world of Lancarse’s new tactical strategy RPG Lost Dimension.
Before I start getting into the nitty-gritty aspects of the game I want to focus on the game’s story which is Lost Dimension‘s Achilles’ heel to be honest. The game’s major crime is it’s incredibly derivative narrative that we’ve seen a million times before. Angry bad guy who wants to destroy the world. Check. Bunch of young super-powered heroes with stereotypical personalities. Check. Some evil robots with a penchant for killing said super-powered heroes. Check. It’s all bone-crushingly familiar stuff that never really hits the highs of other games of its ilk such as Persona 4 Golden or Valkyria Chronicles. However, Lost Dimension does have some wonderful tricks up its sleeve that helps to alleviate its run-of-the-mill story.
The game’s unique traitor system really is an intriguing breath of fresh air that helps to offset its stale narrative. Within your team hides a traitor and it is your job to weed them out. Fortunately, your character Sho has the psychic ability to travel into your teammate’s mind and uncover their true identity. Is your teammate a treacherous swine or a trustworthy friend? The twist is they can essentially be both. See, at the end of each level, the party must vote to root out the slippery snake hiding in the grass. However, with each new level comes a brand new traitor. Thus, a trustworthy friend from one level may become the corrupt imposter in another. Oh, and it gets worse. Any traitors who are left in your party at the end of the game turn on you. This effectively makes the final boss way harder. Oh and did I mention that the traitors are randomized each playthrough? Ouch. This really gives some welcome momentum to its average narrative.
Sadly, the dialogue from many of the characters can be pretty lifeless for the most part. A majority of the dialogue is focused on worrying about who the traitor is or whining about what an awful situation the team have been forced into, which is fine but it unfortunately grows a little tiresome over its 10-15 hour playtime. Maybe it’s the fact that the traitors are randomly generated which makes it difficult for the game to tell a meticulous and calculated story.
Some of the backstories of your teammates, however, are compelling, like the doctor with a spotty history or the lad from a well-to-do family who enjoys being seen as an equal for once, and these moments really help give some life to the borderline stereotypical personalities within the game. Though, on the whole, I found it hard to really care or connect with a lot of the characters, perhaps as a result of mediocre dialogue or poor pacing or a combination of both.
The gameplay in Lost Dimensions is undoubtedly where the game shines best. At its core, the game is a turn-based tactical RPG that reminds me alot of an old forgotten PC game called Incubation: Time is Running Out or more recently XCom: Enemy Within. Both players and enemies take turns in plotting movements, flanking enemies, buffing teammates and chaining attacks. There are, however, some lovely twists to the formula that help make the game stand out. Firstly, there is a useful mechanic called Defer which allows you to give a character that has already taken a turn an opportunity to make one more move. This can prove super useful to characters who need to travel that little bit further to make that all important buff, heal or killing blow.
Then, there are Assist Attacks. If you place your units in strategic positions within the attack range of an enemy, your teammates will be able to support you when you attack. Thus, If you have five teammates near a huge mechanised ED-209 looking robot and one teammate attacks, you’ll be able to attack five times in one move. Which feels awesome. There are also counter attacks that are proximity based which allows both the enemy and the player to dish out a bit of swift justice. Say, an enemy attacks you but is standing close by, then you will automatically be able to give the enemy a taste of their own medicine.
Finally, there is Berserk mode. Each character has three stats to keep an eye on during battle: HP, GP (much like MP) and Sanity. When you are attacked or when you use special abilities, your teammates lose Sanity. When your Sanity reaches zero your character goes into Berserk mode for several turns. Their defence is halved but their attack damage is doubled, though the real kicker is that a Berserked player will attack both friend and foe indiscriminately. Which can be both a blessing or a curse depending on who is lucky, or unlucky, enough to be in the Berserked character’s line of fire.
The game offers a myriad of options when it comes to the combat. It’s dynamic, exciting and satisfying to strategically take down your enemies one by one and the game lends itself really well for on-the-go gaming. Most of the levels are pretty short and sweet, but there’s a depth to the strategy gameplay here that really cuts through its ho-hum story. The skill trees are deep and rewarding and the presentation is slick, despite the occasional one second load screen in-between special moves (which really isn’t a big deal).
In a nutshell, Lost Dimension is one of the most addictive gameplay experiences I’ve played on the Vita in a while. The traitor system has a heap of promise and I hope Lancarse take some time out to develop it into the killer feature it has the potential to one day be. When the story drops the ball, Lost Dimension‘s gameplay is there to pick up the slack with both assurance and aplomb. It’s a game, very much of two disparate halves, but whichever way you slice it Lost Dimension is a fantastic strategy game that any hardcore RPG fan should add to their collection.
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