Lost Dimension Hands-On: Brain Trust And The Tall Tower of Doom

LostD_Vita_CoversheetDon’t plan on getting too attached to your party members in Lost Dimension, developer FurYu’s new RPG headed to the PlayStation 3 and Vita on July 28 from Atlus. Among the cast of powerful teen agents of SEALED are a number of traitors aligned with spiky-haired villain The End and the game rather effectively randomizes who those traitors are on each floor of the enemy packed tower you’re ascending.

While it’s yet another game in which Japan gets partially destroyed and it’s up to a cast of youths with special skills to save the day (and the planet), there’s an added layer of tension here that builds as your party gets whittled down based on your decisions. Even worse, choosing your allies based on how you as the person playing the game feels about them can have some pretty drastic in-game consequences.

LD Screens (1)
 

The game seems easy enough at the start but that’s a big part of the trap it pulls your into. Once you’re told of the betrayer in your midst the first traitor is a “gimme” in that everyone who plays will be gleefully bumping off what seems to be an obvious weak link. However, after that all bets are off as you’re manipulated by what other characters say and do during conversation segments in and out of battle. At various points in the game everyone seems to implicate themselves in one way, point the finger at someone else, or come off as a bit too weird to trust completely. Would YOU trust anyone who doesn’t want to be there, thinks the main villain would make a good friend at The End of the day (yikes), or has their own domination plans once they get to the top of that tower? Uh huh, I thought not.

Granted, JRPGs truly thrive on their odd characters to a great deal. In LD you’re dealing with character quirks that you need to pay close attention to while carefully using the limited Vision Points you gain to scan potential suspects in a quick mini-game. Choose correctly and you end up with a stronger team by the endgame. Choose poorly (or choose based on who you’re attached to when you really shouldn’t at all) and there’s the big chance of ending up with your remaining party members turning on you in a BIG way. No spoilers here other than to say it ain’t pretty.

LD Screens (4)
 

Gameplay-wise, LD plays like a mix of Sega’s Valkyria Chronicles (combat) with a dash of the classic film And Then There Were None and Danganronpa game series. Each character is skilled in different styles of attack, defense and even healing abilities, but losing them to the plot twists doesn’t mean their abilities are gone for good. Judged characters drop an item that contains all their skills, allowing lead character Sho or anyone else remaining to use those skills. Two of these items can be equipped per character, so you can bump off that skilled healer or ranged damage dealer and only miss them in spirit. Er, unless you just killed off someone who’s not the traitor. Oops.

LD Screens (5)
 

From a visual perspective the game looks nice enough on both the Vita and PS3 with the home console at a slight advantage. Some owners of the import version or those who’ve played the Japanese demo have griped about the Vita’s frame rate and what they say is “lag” in both versions, but neither affects the combat one whit. Actually, there’s NO input “lag” at all and the one example that seems obvious is merely a stylistic touch for one of a certain character’s special attacks. As this isn’t an action game you could say any technical issues are moot at best. Well, save for the camera getting funky during the enemy turns and showing you a wall or other surface because it only tracks enemy movement behind those walls from a static angle. If that can be tweaked up in a patch, the game will be even better than it currently is.

Replaying maps is key for a few reasons. Leveling your party up is important as new skills means quicker dispatching of formerly formidable foes. You’ll also gain occasional conversation opportunities, extra points to spend on gear, and if you’re fast enough, that all important “S” ranking for each mission. A full review will be coming up once that embargo lifts, but so far Lost Dimension is going to be one of those games well worth playing and replaying just so you get the satisfaction of seeing those characters you like survive until The End. Maybe. Back in a bit with more on this one soon – stay tuned…

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