EA and Zoink’s Lost in Random is finally here and, after a lot of build-up with some great teasers and trailers, we have been able to sit down and play the game to see if it was worth the hype that we’ve built up in our heads for it.
What we can say straight away is that it lives up to the random in its name and is one of the more interesting titles we have played in a while. But does interesting mean it’s any good?
Well, we’ve played it all and we can now share our thoughts on what is a truly bizarre adventure through the strangest of lands.
The premise of Lost in Random is as strange as you would expect. You play as Even, who’s sister, Odd, has been taken by an evil witch. One year after her abduction, Even sets out on a daring mission into the unknown to try to find her, meeting many interesting characters along the way.
Here’s the full synopsis, which explains that in a bit more detail:
In the Kingdom of Random, the fate of all individuals is decided by a cursed black dice when they reach the age of 12. Even’s sister, Odd, is abducted by the wicked Queen of Random. As Even journeys across the six realms of Random to rescue her sister, she meets Dicey, a sentient dice who has lost nearly all of its pips. In a world that is governed by game rules, Even will slowly understand the randomness of life with the help of Dicey.
It’s an intriguing set-up for an intriguing game and we have to get credit for Zoink studios for launching a new IP that had us enthralled from the moment it started. This immediately feels like a fresh and new type of game – something hard to pull off with so many studios developing them – and yet they seem to have managed it effortlessly.
We can’t get too far into this review without talking about how gorgeous the game looks. You would have heard it described as a Tim Burton-like world by many people in previews, and they weren’t wrong. It feels like something straight out of his playbook with a haunting and gothic vibe sprinkled throughout the offbeat humour and, at times, dark storyline. It’s hauntingly beautiful in many ways with several creepy elements seeping in that left us more unnerved than we expected to be.
The world is filled with all sorts of characters you can interact with and we found ourselves wanting to chat with everyone we possibly could. For starters, the voice acting is superb and the actors are perfectly cast, all seeming to know what kind of tone the game is going for. And they are all interesting and worth speaking to in order to learn more about the world and the latest strange locale.
Special mention must go to the narration which, again, matches what we see on screen to a tee. It reminded us of the type of narration used in the (still unfairly) cancelled Pushing Daisies TV show – and that is high praise. The narration is also where a large part of the comedy comes from and you see that early on by interacting with some paintings and getting witty descriptions of the people you are looking at. It’s attention to detail like this that allows Lost in Random to make such an impression so early on.
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One downside to the voice acting work is, sadly, the central character of Even. Don’t get us wrong. Her actor is very good but the decision to have her stay mute when interacting with other characters is a confusing one. We hear Even talk during cut scenes and at various other points in the game, but when you are having a conversation with an NPC it’s only their voice you hear, with Even’s dialogue being skipped when you choose a speech option.
It takes you out of the world a little each time it happens and, while this is far from the first game to do something like this, it feels especially disappointing here in a game that relies so heavily on drawing you into the world, events and conversations that are happening – some of her replies can be brilliantly sassy too, so we would have loved to hear them said out loud.
Another thing that does help you get drawn into this crazy world though is the music which is exceptionally strong throughout and is a soundtrack we’ll be looking to listen to the first chance we get. It really is a beautiful score that complements the action on the screen perfectly every single time.
The gameplay is fun and feels different to anything we can recall playing in recent memory. You start to be able to use the all-important battle cards once you meet your companion for your journey, “Dicey”, a dice with arms, legs and an eye, and we fell in love with it as soon as it joined us on the quest – we want one and we are sad they aren’t real.
You can only play a card if you have a point. Each card is worth a different number of points and they all do different things – healing you, giving you a sword, a bow and arrow (which we preferred to the sword), a bomb and many more. You collect cards by gathering little blue shards that are in the environment and dropped when striking an enemy in the right place. There are five type of cards – Weapon, Damage, Defence, Hazard and Cheat – and they all, as their names would suggest, can be used for different things. You pre-select what cards you want to take into battle and go from there.
There’s also a fun shop mechanic for buying cards – honestly, explaining this makes us realise how involved the process is and yet it doesn’t feel like it when you play. The card aspect evolves as the games progresses and you eventually unlock the ability to look at what cards you have banked and can then edit them should you wish. It’s a lot of fun and really changes up the combat – do you heal yourself or try and deal some much-needed damage?
Back to your companion Dicey – it can do more than just be rolled and you can send it off to collect things for you, be it coins or shards, and you direct him through little hatches or holes to fetch some unseen items inside things like houses. Dicey doesn’t speak but the tried and tested formula of ‘make it cute and the audience will love it’ has worked for us, at least, and we suspect it will for many others too.
This is a game full of surprises and enough twists to the gameplay along the way to keep it feeling fresh throughout. Things do have a habit of getting repetitive on occasion but not enough to impact the overall experience too much. The main takeaway for us is how much we want to revisit this world and to see it expand. There is so much potential for this universe and we hope we get to see it. Lost in Random may be random, but it’s also an extremely fun game.
Lost in Random launches 10th September 2021 for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.
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