Review:Lost Dimension-A True Hidden Gem
Lost Dimension Review
Lost Dimension is the latest game brought to us from Atlus by the developer FuRyu for the PlayStation Vita and the PlayStation 3. This game flaunts that it is a new spin on the visual novel and TRPG genre, but does it live up to said claims? Well that is what I am here to talk to you about today; I should mention before we get started that I spent the bulk of my time playing the PlayStation Vita version of the game, so anything regarded to in this game is based off my experience from playing it on the Vita.
Let’s begin with an overview of the games story (don’t worry it’s a visual novel so I won’t spoil anything major). A person has conjured up a tower and is threatening to destroy the world in thirteen days. To combat this, the United Nations put together a task force of specialists who have different supernatural gifts and abilities to climb the tower and stop the enemy known as The End. Several teams are sent in; however, only one team manages to infiltrate the tower. Unfortunately, upon entry your team mates lose all memories of what has happened prior to entering the tower outside their mission to climb it and to stop The End. After clearing the first mission you are greeted by The End who tells you about what is happening and that you will have to climb to the top of the tower if you wish to have any hopes of saving the world.
However, before he goes, he informs you that there is a traitor in your group that you will need to expose if you are to advance further into the tower. When you get to the top of the first floor in the tower you are become trapped in a room with a strange device in it with no way out; it is here that you must vote on who you believe the traitor is, and the person with the most votes will be erased. Only by doing this are you allowed to proceed to the next floor with your team.
Before we get into the visual novel mechanics of this game I think it would be best to get the TRPG aspects out of the way. When you first start the game you will be thrown into a battle right away, which introduces several of the games main characters and gets you situated on how combat works. Each character you play as has their own special ability or gift; these gifts can be used as buffs, debuffs, heals and offensive attacks against enemies.
Using these gifts will drain a character’s GP (Gift Points); however, it will also drain a character’s sanity. If a player’s sanity is to reach zero, they will go into a type of berserk mode and do extreme amounts of damage to enemies and allies without any regard of who is in their way. It was a good way to stop me from just spamming gifts when I had a large amount of GP, and it forced me to manage my gifts and pick the right time to use them. Another thing worthy of note is that an enemy can damage a character so badly that it can also drain their sanity. There were many times where I was in the heat of battle, and even though my party members had stable amount of health, several of them were low on sanity. Last thing I needed was for them to go nuts and kill each other. Unfortunately, the only way to raise sanity up is through items or by waiting out a turn. This can lead to some really tense moments where you have to pick and choose your battles.
The next important part about the game’s combat is the focus on team work. The game encourages you to take out enemies in groups, as each team mate is allowed to do follow up damage to an enemy while in range. Conversely, enemies can also perform follow up attacks if they surround you; so you also need to be careful that you do not back yourself into a corner. Another aspect of traveling in packs is having the ability to defer one character’s movement to another, allowing another character to move twice in one turn (this can come in handy if you are trying to make a push against a powerful enemy or if you want to get a more powerful team mate to attack more than once while using the weaker team mate to follow up). The amount of different ways you can approach the combat situations in this game is very refreshing; there are several different ways you can tackle each mission, so having to come back and re-do missions to get an S rank, or to find collectables you may have missed, is much more bearable because you can mix and match different plans of attack with different party members.
Another cool touch you have is the expansive skill tree each character has. At the start of the game, the gifts the characters have may seem lackluster, but by unlocking different branches on the skill tree you are able to unlock a character’s true potential in battle. It was quite satisfying leveling up certain skill tree branches all the way and reaping the fruits of my labor in further battles, only to find out that the person I took so much time to level up was the traitor. This is an outcome you have to be ready for in this game. Thankfully you are able to take some of their abilities and give them to other characters once they have been erased.
As much as I enjoy the combat sections, I have some gripes with it. The biggest one I have is the horrendous load times. I can understand having load times between missions, but having them between enemy attacks? And even enemy follow up attacks? There were times where I had to wait a good minute to minute and a half for all the enemies to perform their follow up attacks due to the load times. To me, these load times really take you out of the experience the game’s environment has set up for you; this game is able to emerge you into the story and the environment, only to be ripped out by one of the several load times you will face in every enemy movement phase. Another small complaint I have is that you are unable to skip enemy movement. However, I can overlook that; the combat overall is enjoyable, rewarding, and open ended too many different approaches.
Now this is where the game takes a huge turn. As stated on each floor there is a traitor among you, for a total of five traitors in all, and it is your job to determine who the traitor is.
To help you out, your character, Sho, has a special ability like everyone else: the ability of foresight and seeing short glimpses of people’s minds in the future. This ability is used to help him find the traitor in your group. After each mission, Sho will get a quick vision in the minds of his team mates that he took with him into the mission; their thoughts will flash as text on screen, and if you see any red text you will know there is a potential traitor among you.
I say potential because, even though there is one traitor on each floor, there are a total of three possible suspects. To narrow down the three suspects you must pay close attention to the red text in your visions because sometimes you will hear the voice that the text belongs to. However, that may not always work, and you will have to device your own formula of going through missions and discovering who the three suspects are that you need to decide from.
Now you are probably asking, “Okay, I’ve got the three suspects. What do I do now, Patrick?” Well first off, make absolutely sure that the suspects you have are indeed the three potential traitors. Next, you have to play a short mini game that takes you into the mind of said person, where you must follow them and their inner most thoughts to determine if a person is truly the traitor.
At this point, the game becomes very heart breaking. The game has a cast of ten awesome team mates that travel with Sho through this tower. Each one has an interesting back story behind them, and the game encourages you to create bonds with all your team mates. The game makes you get emotionally attached to your team mates. You create bonds with them through small talk, and even go on adventures with them. So imagine your best friend, a person you went everything through, learned everything about their story, and in a sense they became almost like family, and in this situation stuck in this tower they are your family. Now you find out they have betrayed your trust, they are the one you must pick to erase. Could you do it? That’s the situation this game tries to put you in, and for me they caught me hook, line and sinker. My favorite character in the game is Sonjiro, the medic; there were two times where he was a potential traitor, and the more I got to know him, the more I pleaded with the game that he wouldn’t be the one. However, on the fourth floor, sadly he was the one. I was devastated, I felt like a part of me was ripped out and dragged through the mud. And I loved it.
This game was able to carve a narrative to where I cared for almost each character in the game, and I went through so much grief at the idea of they had to be erased. These moments would often come right before I am about to max out their bond too, which makes me felt like my business with them was unfinished. To me this shows that the visual novel aspect of the game was a success; it made me crave to find out more on why did we have to do this? Why is The End trying to destroy the world? And I am not going to spoil any of the story’s fixed points because this is something I want you to discover and feel on your own.
The only complaint I have with this part of the game is how you pick the traitor. Yes, once you find out who the traitor is everyone will vote on them. To sway the votes your team mates will ask for your opinion on who you think the traitor is after every mission, and based on how strong your bond is with said team mate will determine if they take your opinion seriously. And that’s it. There isn’t any real major court case where the traitor tries to defend themselves and sway the votes in other directions. I would have enjoyed it if this part of the game played more like Danganronpa or Ace Attorney where you had to cross examine the traitor and pick out the lies in their statements. But sadly that’s not the case. I have to assume that this was done due to the fact each set of traitors is different on each play through. Nevertheless, I still feel like it was a missed opportunity.
A final thing to mention is that this game has a really good replay value. There are many collectables scattered throughout each level that adds to the games back story. You can also unlock research notes for each character that tells more about their personality and their own story, making you want to continue to replay the game in New Game Plus to try and max out your bonds with everyone. The fact that each character is so well written makes the replay worth it alone.
Overall, Lost Dimension was an unexpected treat, and is definitely a hidden gem on the Vita and PS3. The game looks really good; however, there were times were I was experiencing slowdowns when there were a lot of enemies on screen. Once you get past the loading times and the shallow voting process for the traitor, you have a very well-crafted hidden gem that is the combination between visual novel and TRPG that you didn’t think you needed. If you haven’t already, go pre-order this game and pick it up. If you are into either of those genres you will not be disappointed.
Lost Dimension: 8.5/10
+Dynamic Character Development
+Fresh ways to tackle already established levels
+Destroys your emotions
+High replay value with NG+
-Long, and too many load times.
-Voting process is flat, and unexplored potential.
-Character development cut off due to the random process.