The Lost Child (Switch) Review – Switching up DRPGs?
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS Vita, PS4
Developer: KADOKAWA Games
Publisher: NIS America
Release: 22nd June 2018
DRPGs, I reviewed quite a few of them throughout the 16 months GameSoulz exists. Yet, none of them was on the, you guessed it, Switch. Coincidence? I think not and neither does NIS America. With The Lost Child, the western branch aims to bring exactly this genre to the portable console, so it may one day fully replace the Vita. Naturally, the game comes with some problems typical for rather mediocre titles of this genre.
This time, set in modern Tokyo, we play as Hayato, a young reporter for an occult magazine. Incidentally, he quickly finds himself entangled in the supernatural plot when he´s saved from his nearing death by a gorgeous woman. Though before he can find anything out, he´s left with a freaky suitcase and an exposition sequence introducing him tot he on-going war between hell and heaven.
As many other DRPGs, The Lost Child is by far not a good storyteller. Alone the clumsily written introduction scene can´t achieve more than provoke a few laughs and boredom. Nonetheless, the rather unique setting could have made for an interesting world building setting with some neat nods to other franchises. Unfortunately, most of the time is either spent in the horribly uninteresting dialogues around yet another supernatural war or even worse references to Lovecraft. Seriously, said incompetent writing actually tries to capture the flare of Lovecraft´s cosmic horror at times, especially in dungeons. For a fan of pretty much every story this man has written so far, I still can´t quite comprehend why this game thinks it was necessary to include jokes and nods towards those stories when they fulfil no other option than making me wonder why I continue reading through its meaningless campaign.
Focusing on the gameplay, reveals yet another problem with The Lost Child: Its DRPG mechanics aren´t anything special. The foundation is the tenth iteration of the classic first-person dungeon crawling. Requiring you to map out the map and alike. While this is pretty much given for games in this genre, the combat itself is where nothing interesting happens at all. Hayato´s party of up to four members faces an onslaught of enemies in the most classic turn-based combat system ever created. There´s really nothing special at all to talk about here. Though, it works as intended, since it´s such a well proven, basic system.
The only thing truly noteworthy and interesting about the whole system is the fact you can capture and train the monsters. If you get one´s HP down enough, it´s possible to capture them for your own side, enabling you to select them as new party members. Nothing particularly new but pretty unseen in other DRPGs as generic as this one. In combination with the fact, the monster XP is a whole new resource, which can also revive you after you die, makes the whole thing of powering up your monsters a neat little system. You constantly have to decide if you want to continue the fight but lose some XP or spend all the XP on your monsters until they´re strong enough to kill everything.
Unfortunately, that´s as unique as The Lost Child gets. For the most part, nothing about it even looks remotely interesting. Nearly every design is either inspired by your usual generic fantasy trope in a bland manner or tries to remind you of the far better Lovecraft world. There are only a handful of designs I actually remember and only because they were awful. Naturally, the dungeons can´t offer much diversity too, ranging from low-resolution fantasy mush, completely lacking the fact the game plays in the real world. There would´ve been so many possibilities but instead, every design feels like a rip-off of a far better one.
As I previously hinted, THe Lost Child also doesn´t look very great. While character models and alike are acceptable for the Switch, everything else looks bad even for mobile standards. The art style too isn´t anything noteworthy, though for some people, for example, me, it could look somewhat irritating at first due to the rather “classic” feel. Overall, the whole thing seems more like a Vita port than anything else but features no truly interesting art style or the soundtrack to compensate for the lacking visuals.
Despite everything, The Lost Child is still just your regular DRPG. Given, the story and mechanics are all bland and lacking, they still work as in other generic titles. Only the slightly higher than usual production values for a handheld game may help it stand out, otherwise, there´s surely some fun to be had. If you´re not instantly won over to spend 50 bucks on it though, then you will surely have a rather bad time.
[A Review Code was provided by NIS America]