Lost Dimension (PC) Review – Lost in Traitors
Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS3, PS Vita
Developer: FURYU Corporation
Publisher: Ghostlight (PC)
Release: 30th October 2017
Originally released in 2015 for PS4 and Vita published by Atlus and NIS America, Lost Dimension received quite some critical acclaim. Now, Ghostlight ported it to PC, so it was more than time to check this tactical RPG out and dive into this tale about traitors and death.
One day a mysterious tower appears in the city completely destroying it, followed by a transmission from The End, the person who claims to be responsible for this incident, threatening to destroy the whole world if he isn´t defeated. So, the United Nations send in their strongest team, a group of 11 people with their own psychotic abilities. However, soon after entering the tower, it´s becoming clear that not every one of them is on the good side and numerous traitors are among them, that need to be found and killed to save the group.
The fact various traitors are among the group is the main reason for Lost Dimension´s great story. Comparable to Danganronpa or the Zero Escape series, it´s never clear who to trust or how to judge people. There are of course various character types present, from the hard-headed alpha male to the smart, tricky one, but the most likeable ones are never guaranteed to be the most trustable because the developer themselves didn´t know who the traitors will be. On every playthrough the traitors are randomized and that´s a damn great thing. In contrast to previously named series, Lost Dimension is a ride into the unknown, not the player nor the game knows who will die.
While the base story is pretty average, offering a mystery that´s solved at the end through a main and true ending, it´s not too exceptional or new, especially after recent masterpieces like Danganronpa or Chaos;Child. Yet, the atmosphere that´s created on the way, the bonds formed to the characters or the constant feeling of insecurity appear so naturally, without the game forcing it upon us due to the great plot design and pacing. Truly impressive. Since one walkthrough usually takes around ~14 hours or so, it´s perfect to play it more than just once to explore different characters or just see what changes if the traitors are reshuffled.
Said traitor theme is also a big gameplay element, somehow they need to be identified after all. To reach a new stage of the tower, it´s necessary to complete various levels and kill one person of the group, preferably the traitor. For that, there´s a neat logic based “minigame”, which is the star of the game at the same time. Every level features a so-called “voice segment” after completion, where the protagonist Sho hears the voices of his quad members of the mission and can detect how many potential traitors are among them. Since every stage only three potential traitors are randomized, it´s up to us, to constantly switch squad members, figure out the three main subjects and choose one of them for further examination, which can conclude in a showdown where it´s revealed if the person was a real traitor or not. Sounds complicated but it´s basically a bit more advanced version of Mastermind.
However, even if we know who´s the traitor, it´s not guaranteed that the other members will actually vote against them. So, having good relations to them, taking the more vicious people on missions and generally establish Sho as a liked character among the group is necessary to guide the votes toward the right person. After they are killed their powers can then be “reassigned” to another team member, so the balance isn´t destroyed by the randomness.
The other half of the time is mostly spend on the ~10-15 minutes long missions, played in a very classic tactic RPG style, offering everything a game of this genre needs. From normal attacks to the psychologic special attacks ranging from damage focused to healing. Overall, it feels very similar to games like Valkyria Chronicles. Luckily, there´s at least some sort of innovation in form of the focus on Assist attacks and Sanity.
On the one hand, nearby team members are able to participate in an attack, even if they already used their turn. So in practice it´s possible to chain up to five attacks into one, if every squad member is at one place. The quite huge difficulty spikes from stage to stage make it almost a necessity to thoughtfully chain the Assists together, to get the most out of every turn. On the other hand, the Sanity meter serves some special purposes as well. Once it´s depleted the character goes into a very powerful but uncontrollable berserk mode, killing everything in its way. Smartly used a very powerful tactic. Additionally, in exchange for some Sanity points a character can “donate” his turn to another one, to get some more damage out for example or quickly regroup.
During missions or the traitor game, the lobby serves as the hub world of Lost Dimension. As in the gameplay, it´s nothing exceptional featuring the well-known elements of JRPGs like dozens of dialogues with the team members, a weapon store, the ability to level up the different psychic abilities or even create new ones and deploying on missions. While they work just fine, the whole handling of the menus definitely lacks some comfort functions. For example, if a weapon is purchased in the store, it´s possible to see who can equip it, yet the equipment menu is divided into the characters not weapons.
So, it´s necessary to scroll through every character to hopefully find the right one for the purchased weapon. Figuring out which character has which role is also a huge effort. Where Valkyria Chronicles had clear symbols for each class, Lost Dimension lacks any of that, forcing the player to guess what character is meant to resemble according to their weapon and ability. It takes time, a lot of time.
The fact most of the menus feel rather clunky with the default controls just adds up to the annoyment. Luckily every key is rebindable, that´s great. Overall, the port quality is pretty good, I never experienced any crashes and only a handful of control bugs easily fixed in a minute. The support for 4K resolutions is also pretty great. Unfortunately, there are no graphic options whatsoever, making it a “run it or refund” thing. Still, considering the very mediocre ensemble of mushy textures, undetailed character models and lackluster effects, it shouldn´t be a problem for most people. The character portraits and movements look amazing though.
I think Lost Dimension is a lot like Shadow of Mordor, not only was it released in the same time but also functions in a very similar way. At its core is an unexceptional tactical RPG with some little neat twists. Yet, it has one amazing mechanic able to carry the whole game from average to greatness, the traitor system. Not only does the story about finding the randomized traitors among the squad nearly feel like a more open Danganronpa but the gameplay profits so heavily from the logic based game around it. Being forced to swap squad mates, make deductions and seeing it all come together, while keeping a balance in the team is captivating and never gets old. Combined with the well working PC port and support for 4K resolution Ghostlight delivers the best possible version of this great game. At the current 14.99 or even 24.99 it should be a no-brainer for any JRPG fan.
[A Review Code was provided by Ghoslight]