Dice and games, these things go together like mac and cheese. However, what if your dice were a living breathing being? What if its rolls were a visible difference between life and death? What if you lived in a world that truly depended on the role of a dice! Well, Lost in Random tries to answer those very questions and it…mostly works.
Lost in Random is EA’s latest delve into the strange and boy is it a strange one. The game appears at first to be a simple action-adventure in a fantasy world but slowly begins to show that it is something different. There’s a lot to unpack here so let's get a roll-on.
Lost in Random follows Even, a young girl who lives in the world of Random. In this world, people's fates are decided for them when they reach 12. On their twelfth birthday the queen arrives and rolls a dice, the resulting number indicates where the child will be taken and raised. The game begins on the eve of Even’s sister Odd’s twelfth birthday. Odd is taken by the queen and it is up to Even to find her and rescue her. Helping Even is the mysterious Dicey, a sentient dice that has lost most of his spots which are scattered across the world. This simple premise does all it needs to, there is a constant reason for the player to progress and a goal at the end. It isn’t the most detailed plot and there aren’t that many twists and turns but there don’t need to be.
Lost in Random’s story is told more through the visuals than anything else and the interactions between the characters. Sure, the player is told about the Dice War and some of the history, but most things are completely unexplained. There’s no deep reason why some of the characters are human and others are weird fish things, it's simply the way it is. This could all come across as very off-putting, but the Tim Burton-esq visuals help to make the player feel…well, not comfortable, but it all feels like it fits. Granted the characters aren’t that interesting most of the time but the relationship between Dicey and Even is strong enough and even endearing at times. Add to this the frankly fantastically wacky side characters and it all comes together really well.
This is all helped by the artistic design of the game, and this is where the inspirations for the game shine through. Initially, the game is not fantastic to look at, it appears a bit janky in places and the animation is all a bit askew. However, give it some time and you’ll start to see something really special. Lost in Random is most reminiscent of the Tim Burton animated movies with the characters all appearing as strange puppet-like creations. Meanwhile, the world is a strange clash of the recognisable and the truly absurd. For instance, one of the first big cities that the player enters seems normal enough, if a little cramped, right up until you realise there is a whole other city directly above you and it is all upside down. This all comes together to make the world feel both recognisable and yet not at the same time.
However, even the best looking game falls flat if the gameplay is tedious and dull and this is where Lost in Random has some issues. The game appears at first to be nothing more than a hack and slasher, at least until you find Dicey. Your magical dice companion can absorb power from enemies hit by Even’s slingshot. When he has enough, he can be rolled by Even. Each roll will give the player several power points that can be used to activate several cards. These cards have a variety of effects, from giving Even a powerful weapon to bombs and healing spells. These card effects are the only way to actually hurt opponents as the slingshot only allows for power points.
The system is interesting, at least at first, but the issue is the number of cards. The variety is limited and the effectiveness of the cards isn’t standard. In other words, there are only a few sets that are actually useful and little reason to experiment or personalise your deck. There is also an issue in that nearly every fight plays out the same way with the only difference being the enemy types. You will always start by shooting a bunch of pellets and then rolling the dice and using the same cards over and over again. Smaller fights soon become a drag and something to be avoided if possible, and that should never be the case.
Combat takes part in a sealed-off area and the enemies at least showcase the visual designs on display through the rest of the game. However, there’s nothing really to them other than looks and the fights against the normal foes quickly become mundane. The bosses are more interesting to deal with, but that is more due to their character rather than interesting mechanics.
Outside of combat, the player will spend most of their time exploring small maps and completing short side quests. Unfortunately, these quests are one of the weak points of the game, they’re often fetch quests and they begin to try on the player's patience. Annoyingly they are one of the few ways to earn the money needed to update cards and progress. There are a few standouts, but they’re uncommon compared to the others.
Lost in Random is an interesting game but it has several flaws that can hamper the general enjoyment. Everything works as it should and the visual experience is certainly something, If you can get past the more repetitive aspects you will find a game that is imaginative and humorous, but there are certainly several flaws to be aware of. Why not roll the dice (I can only think of so many dice puns) and see if this is something for you.
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