The subject of JRPGs in the past have usually revolved around teenagers trying to save themselves and their towns or villages from a certain doom that only they can defeat. The source of the trouble is usually from some outside influence that can only be defeated by the combined efforts of the heroes who have taken it upon themselves to banish that evil by any means necessary. But what if the source of the troubles is not only coming from some outside malevolence but also from within your own party? This is the twist that Furyu Corporation and Atlas Games presents their latest foray into the tactical RPG genre with Lost Dimension.
As the leader of your group of eleven, you have 13 days to stop the man who calls himself “The End.” In his quest to create chaos and destruction, he has planted a tower called the “Pillar” in the middle of town and given you a time limit upon its expiration as he plans to wipe out everything and everyone you hold dear. And to top it all off, in order to ascend the tower, you must determine who in your group is a traitor and have them “erased.” Do you have it in you to eradicate someone you have come to rely on? “The End” is betting that you don’t have the guts.
You and five of your teammates must clear each mission to proceed forward.
The objective of Lost Dimension is to ascend the levels of the Pillar while battling against monsters and mechanical beasts. The dangers that you face not only come from The End’s forces but from your party members as well. You take on the role of Sho, the leader of group of psychic soldiers assembled by the UN called “SEALED” that has been tasked with discovering the nature of the Pillar and to eradicate its threat.
You and the ten other members of SEALED will meet on the battle field for the first time and must work together to stop this menace. There is one caveat, however. The End reveals to you that some of the individuals in your party are traitors and in order to ascend the tower, you must determine who the traitor is and erase them. There is no other way around it.
Mana Kawai is a brawler who likes to speak with a British accent just because she thinks it sounds cute.
The story in Lost Dimension takes place during the main and sub missions of the game with the main story missions obviously moving your adventure forward and the sub story missions giving you hints as to who the traitor is at that particular point in the game. You will also earn energy points during both main and sub missions which you can use to craft items or gadgets to employ in battle as well as earning experience points that will level up your party members and open up more powerful attacks and skills. You and the members of your party all have different strengths and abilities so outfitting everyone with the weapons, items and skills that will allow them to perform at their best is important. The disappointing thing is that while you are painstakingly crafting each of your party members to be a badass, they may turn out to be a traitor and you just might lose a valuable part of your team.
You and your party members as well as the enemies you will encounter have a certain sized radius of attack so taking into consideration everyone’s position in the arenas is critical.
Battle in Lost Dimension takes place on the many floors of the Pillar. Where most RPGs allow you to move around freely in large open areas, the environments in this game are largely differing-sized, corridor-filled arenas that you must carefully navigate in order to position your party members in just the right places to always have a tactical advantage over your adversaries. Your party members can only move certain distances depending on their specific abilities (melee, ranged, psychic) so it is a good idea to stay together. Battle is turn based and party members can assist in attacks if they are positioned close enough to the target to make an attack, so two or more attacks can happen on one turn. This is also true for enemy attacks so you don’t want to leave your party open to multiple attacks from the enemy if you can help it.
Interaction between characters is fully animated and brings the story to life.
You and your fellow recruits are psychic, so you must use your psychic abilities to ferret out the traitors before they have a chance to undermine the group. How this comes into play is that at the end of every mission, you get a short cut scene of lines of text that will float around the screen that represent the thoughts of the members that you just completed the mission with and you must determine whose thoughts they belong to, giving you a clue as to who the current traitor is. Once you have viewed this screen, you are taken to the lobby of the Pillar which acts as a sort of staging area for the party.
In the lobby, you can enter the Vision area which will give you the necessary information to determine who may be plotting against the group. In this area you can check the trust level that you maintain with the other party members as well as their rankings in battle, how they would vote as to who they think the traitor is at that moment and the vision history section which allows you to replay the thoughts of certain party members so that you can discern, by process of elimination, who is currently planning to betray the team. Once you take in all of this information, when the time comes to vote on who you think the traitor is, you will be able to erase that member immediately.
Keeping your party members in close proximity may mean the difference between success and failure.
The graphics in Lost Dimension are very well done and help to give this game character. The artwork is done in an anime style with many of the action sequences and story elements being represented with full-motion animation. It has a very heavy sci-fi influence so many of the character and environment designs have a cool tech feel to them. Your party members are dressed in awesome futuristic uniforms that have a hint of classical styling with a futuristic flair about them. During certain parts of the game, where you will have to interact with your party members to get more acquainted with them, you just see them from the waist up against various backgrounds but they are fully animated and not just static images under lines and lines of text. Having this small feature quickly differentiates this game from others in the genre and really kept me wanting to discover who the next traitor was going to be.
Certain attacks will leave you open to counter attacks. However, if you have a party member within attacking distance, he or she will also attack to combine for multiple attacks during a single turn.
The sound effects and the soundtrack in Lost Dimension was very impressive. The opening cinematic alone made my jaw drop and I’m not ashamed to admit that I watched it completely through each time that I booted up the game. Machine-gun fire, explosions and fire attacks, just to name a few, rumbled my headphones and by extension, my eardrums, and was very satisfying. The music is some of the best that Atlus has to offer and whenever I play an Atlus game, I know that I will not be disappointed. Great care was obviously take to create a soundtrack that would help to set the tone for a game where one moment you are fighting to save a teammate and the next minute that teammate is plotting to betray you.
The animated cut-scenes are very well done and helps to convey the story in a cinematic fashion.
As you can probably guess from this review, Lost Dimension is a very deep tactical RPG that has really been designed in a different way than most JRPGs. Having a traitor within your midst at all times is a good plot twist and will have you pulling out your hair trying to determine who is next to be erased. As I noted earlier, coming to rely on a certain character in your party and then having them removed suddenly from the roster really forces you to always be on your toes.
Getting too close to a particular character and then having them turn on you knowing that at some point this was bound to happen really made me think about how I was going to proceed in the game after a planned erasure. Clocking in at around thirty hours, this game never plays the same way twice as each play-through will present different traitors at different times. Lost Dimension launches on July 28 at $39.99 for the PS3 and the VITA so if you are looking for a game that takes a fresh approach to the tactical RPG formula, this game is the one you are looking for.
Beware of traitors amongst the group
Challenge - 9/10
Gameplay - 10/10
Design - 8/10
+ Very deep game mechanics RPG adventure
+ Traitor element makes for engrossing gameplay
+ Music is some of the best from Atlus
+ Characters are interesting and varied
- Story premise is kind of weak
- Causal gamers may be turned off