Title: Lost in Random
Release Date: September 10, 2021
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action Adventure
As far as action adventures go, fans are limited to only a few a year. In a market saturated with Metroidvanias and 2D adventures, indie developers aren’t really known for delivering 3D experiences that can keep up with the bigger studios. However, developer Zoink doesn’t seem to have an issue with trying their luck in their newest game, Lost in Random. And with the roll of a natural 20, this team has created a genuinely emotional experience with challenge and discovery.
Lost in Random begins as Even’s sister Odd turns 12. They both live in the land of One with their parents, but on a child’s 12th birthday, the queen requires them to roll a dice to determine where they will live moving forward. Odd roles a Six which means she’ll leave with the queen to the highest city in the land and spend her days happily ever after. Or so Even assumed until a strange dream acquires a year later and she wakes up to find a ghost that leads her on an adventure.
What began as a quest straight to her sister changed after she came across a living Dice named Dicey. The two of them travel throughout the numbered towns making their way to her sister and assisting a range of strange characters along the way.
The story is straight out of a storybook, with Even showing a range of emotions as she encounters various hardships. I mean, she’s not even 12 yet. However, her self-motivated attitude gets her through tense and threatening situations. This world is crafted with the inspiration of a Tim Burton film, and it shows in the NPC designs. I found it interesting that each area shares the same NPC designs, but this just goes back to the fact that the queen has been mixing up the species based on the roll of a dice.
Interacting with the NPCs is a joy as Even can choose from a list of things to say that receive different reactions. While this could lead to new clues about your quest, it’s not absolutely needed. There’s also side events to the main story that further details the state of the city and your mission. With that are actual side-missions that you can take on, which unlock rewards such as money or new cards.
Even comes to discover that Dicey is very powerful. Their relationship is just as meaningful as the relationship Even has with her sister. They’re constantly relying on each other to move forward, which is needed because this quest will test their resolve at every moment. Dicey can also utilize the power of cards, which can be found or purchased. These cards have varying effects, such as summoning a weapon, putting a trap on the field, or utilizing a buff. Powering these cards requires the roll of dice; the number is then used to decide which cards can be summoned.
Dicey begins this journey with only two dots, but you can imagine the more he gets, the easier it is to summon cards. With the added dots come new card types that significantly evolve the battles throughout the game, turning the battlefield into a playground of traps and knocking down enemies. However, earning power for the cards comes with a bit of danger as the crystals that allow you to draw a card grow on the monster. So, Even will have to shoot these crystals with a slingshot or time a perfect dodge through them to pick up the crystals.
Battles can be exceptionally challenging; as you can guess, a bit of luck plays into their every movement. You can draw some of your strongest cards back to back to make light work of the waves of enemies, or you can be stuck with your weakest. It gets tougher as the enemies become more powerful and can easily overwhelm you as they attack in groups. I found the flying enemies the most annoying, though, since you can’t attack them unless you wait for them to attack or have a ranged weapon equipped.
The battles play a significant role in this random adventure as they break up the quest. There’s also a game board-style fight where you need to roll to move a game piece to the end of the board. However, along the way, random events can occur based on where the game piece lands. The developers got pretty creative with this as the game boards are each unique and challenging.
Outside of battles, Even will be primarily be interacting with characters to collect items, explore, and deliver said items. While they may boil down to fetch quests, the developers do mix it up by having you look for words to win a rhyming battle or figure out who killed a king. These quests are weaved into the story and show a much greater effort on Even’s effect on the world. You begin to understand each region and the citizens and how they’re affected by the Queen’s arbitrary rules.
I found the environment and world to be gorgeous; it almost makes you forget that Even can’t jump. The domains have different paths to take that I surprisingly never felt lost in. The various towns are massive but have a nice flow to limit confusion about where you need to be going. There’s also a handy map in case you get really lost.
I think the biggest issue with Lost in Random is the randomness that is the battles. I didn’t enjoy the moments when I had to wait for crystals to grow on the enemies to hit them and slowly draw new cards. I wish there were an easier way to do this, or perhaps the gauge to draw a card raises gradually, and the crystals just speed it up. Further, there were many moments of awkward camera angles during conversations that would just show a wall or something. To top it off, there are some significant framerate dips even while playing on PS5. I’m not sure why this happened, but some of the larger battles just aren’t that optimized.
It doesn’t seem random that Lost in Random is a great game. The developers put a lot of thought into crafting a fantastic gaming experience alongside a grim storybook adventure. It all works incredibly well with only a few dips of quality that will surely be fixed over time. I enjoyed this experience thoroughly as it delivers on its action-adventure and haphazard gameplay systems.
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