It may be a dated reference but back in 2001 before Anderson Cooper became a world renowned journalist with CNN, he hosted a little known show for ABC titled The Mole. Teams had to work together to solve challenges but one of them was a saboteur. They worked against the team from within to spread lies and ultimately ruin them. Now think if they applied that to a video game. In Lost Dimension you are Sho Kasugai, one of eleven people with special psychic abilities tasked with saving the world from a madman known as The End. The mysterious villain has nuclear missiles aimed at many of your world’s major cities. You have to climb the tower and defeat his robotic army to proceed to the top where you can take on The End and disable the nukes. It’s not that simple though. There are traitors within your group and each floor you must sacrifice one of your eleven teammates to continue going upwards. Eliminate the wrong people and you may end up without anyone left on your side. The traitors are randomized so no two games may be the same.
It is the randomized nature of the game that ultimately hurts the story. By having every character be vulnerable to being erased it’s not guaranteed that any character sticks around leaving the majority of the dialogue in missions vague and repetitive. That’s not to say there’s no character interaction. Between missions you can talk to your teammates and have one on one conversations with them to learn more about them and build stronger bonds. Maximizing the bonds give you a bonus mission where even more revelations are made about your team. Unfortunately some of the conversations end up being super awkward, especially when they try to add in anything to do with adult relationships. One character asks if you want to “hug” her while another female character has a disturbing suggestion that you can use her sexually if you want to.
Elaborating on my earlier complaint about the missions, I feel that the game shoots itself in the foot by having a heavily scripted first chapter with a set traitor and an intriguing end sequence leading up to the vote. That chapter is a highlight of the game, the remaining votes end up feeling empty. If you catch the traitor they calmly congratulate you, “Good job you caught me!”, then they go quietly out of existence never to be mentioned by your team again. The idea of a random traitor is an interesting one but tends to do harm to the structure and story of the game. A lot of the time, in missions especially, it seems like the characters are just spouting random lines rather than having a conversation. I personally find that story is one of the most important things in an RPG and perhaps think that the entire first play-through should have been scripted rather than just an exciting first chapter. Also as a final kicker the true ending of the game requires a second play-through. The original ending without any spoilers is short and vague, unsatisfying so.
Every character has their own set of about 20 abilities to use in combat each with their own unique animations. Unfortunately there’s not much variance in enemy designs so expect to see the similar looking robots in all the battles. The anime portrait of the characters are also nice to see, each character has a large amount of expressions which helps to bring life to the cast. Each floor of the tower has its own design so you won’t get sick of the scenery as you progress through the game.
The music is fitting to the game. A highlight in the score would be the tense suspenseful music that plays when the vote is occurring. The main title’s theme is high energy while the safe room music is calming. Standard stuff, but is appreciated. The voice acting is fine, the actors try their best to deliver emotion with their lines, some of the dialogue comes off as awkward. Unfortunately the game is not fully voice acted so some conversations will just be filled with generic hmms, ok! and huh.
To progress through the tower you must take on the battles of each floor. There are about 6 or so battles per floor with one usually being optional. The battles unfortunately don’t offer much in the way of strategy, each battle’s win condition is either defeat all enemies or defeat the boss. If you’re under-levelled you will have a hard time overcoming your enemies. Be prepared to replay missions to gain levels because just doing each mission once is usually not enough to keep you on the same level as your enemies. Staying together when possible is the strongest option for most if not all battles. I played through the entire game on Normal beating each mission, some multiple times and when I reached the final floor I had barely enough money to buy the best weapon for one of my characters let alone the team. I grit my teeth and upgraded as best I could and went into the final battles and ended up beating it my first try.
The skill trees are quite wide. Unfortunately you don’t get enough skill points to see what a character can do until you’re almost done your first play-through. When you lose a character they drop a skill cube with all of their abilities and you can no longer upgrade the character which means if you want to remove the traitor from each chapter you may end up lacking key abilities that will hurt you by the end of the game. In New Game+ this is fixed by giving each character a large amount of ability points at the start so the cube will end up being much more useful when it’s inevitably dropped.
Figuring out and then eliminating the traitor is also not as exciting as one would hope would be. You bring 5 people with you into any battle and when you finish the battle you get to see the number of traitors in your group. Then you must use process of elimination until you know the three traitor candidates per floor. Once you have your suspects you can use your “Deep Vision” ability to probe into the person’s mind to find out if they are the traitor. You only get a few vision points per floor to use this ability so choose wisely. Deep Vision is a mini-game where you make Sho chase thoughts in a person’s mind until you get the revelation on if they are or are not the traitor. Then you must attempt to convince your teammates who the traitor. This requires you to replay battles since that’s the only way your teammates will ask you who you think the traitor is. So the entire process becomes grind to find out who the traitor is, then grind until you’ve convinced enough people that you will win the vote (Which is 1-2 people per battle). So expect to grind.
A lot of this game is grinding, a flaw when you’re expected to replay the game multiple times to get the full story. The battles lack excitement and figuring out the traitor and turning your team against them just takes time and even more replaying battles. There is however a bit of a charm to the game. The cast of characters are a oddball bunch with their own quirks that you wouldn’t usually find together in one game. One character is obsessed with “all things cute”, being so committed to this belief that she puts on a fake British accent(because she finds it cuter than her own voice), another is so obsessed with everyone getting along that he even thinks we can be friends with the main villain, The End. All have their own secrets that you unlock through maxing your bonds with them. Even in battle all the characters are unique in their abilities. The way they move across the map, some float, others can teleport and some just walk. Lost Dimension is a great idea for a game and I had fun with it in spite of my complaints. If you are a fan of SRPGs and are interested in the premise I would recommend grabbing this game, just don’t expect a strong story and be prepared to spend a lot of time replaying missions.