“Lost in Random” bets on the vision of a dark fairy tale
A girl, dice and a board game world – these seemingly fortuitous images came together in a painting, and from that image the idea of “Lost to chance” germ. For Creative Director Olov Redmalm, a distinct vision arose from this idea, but what is remarkable is how the Zoink Games team managed to focus their ideas through the lens of this concept and create a captivating adventure.
It’s a title that transports players to a surreal, yet somewhat logical, dark fairytale world. It starts with two sisters – Odd and Even – who live in Onecroft, one of the lowest slums in the Random Kingdom. This is where the campaign begins as Even’s brother turns 12, and under Evil Queen law, Odd must roll the only real dice to find out where she would go in the Six Realms. She ends up at Sixtopia with the queen and is taken away.
A year later, Odd still misses Even and dreams of her. After a particularly strange dream, she receives a visit from a strange ghost, and while pursuing an apparition she believes related to Odd, she sets out on a quest to see her brother. This takes him to other places in Random; each place has its own culture and its own issues as the queen tyrannized over the kingdom.
A KINGDOM WITH SIX KINGDOMS
Onecroft is the lowest rung. Two-Town is run by a mayor who runs a constituency full of divided personalities. Threedom is in the midst of a three-way civil war between noble siblings, each of whom suspects the others of regicide. Fourburg was once the site of a chivalrous town, but the queen reduced it to rubble. Amidst the ruins, a Las Vegas-like destination emerged. Fivetropolis, with its dizzying skyscrapers, was once the place where artisans made cards, but it has become the queen’s war machine. Finally, Sixtopia is considered a paradise, but few have confirmed anything about the kingdom.
The dice play a huge role in the iconography of Random as more citizens used to have a partner die and these dice carriers took part in epic chance contests. In “Lost in Random”, the dice act as spell books that allow users to materialize weapons or play tricks on opponents. After the Queen took over, she eliminated all of the dice – except her own – in the No-Dice War. She reigns with absolute power.
What makes Even so special is that she befriends a dice named Dicey, and together they venture through the various locations to resolve the dramas that plague them. Zoink flexes her creative muscles, filling every destination with eerie whimsy. Visually, “Lost in Random” has a lot in common with “The nightmare before Christmas” and the game wears that influence on its sleeve with its slender figures and odd architecture. The developers stick to the classic games motif and use it brilliantly. She even comes up against passages blocked by domino walls and she comes across card houses.
THE BEST PART OF THE GAME
This thinking extends to the gameplay, which is the most impressive aspect of “Lost in Random”. During combat, Even must power Dicey by using his slingshot to drop crystals on enemies and this allows him to draw up to five cards from a deck. Players can cast Dicey at any time, which sends Even to Dicemension where time freezes for almost everyone except her.
From there, she can grab weapons, set up traps, and add perks. There’s a caveat: the number she gets with Dicey is the energy she can use to spend on cards. Each card has a cost, the more powerful requiring more energy.
With 15 cards in a deck, players may not always draw what they need. If they are low on health, they must hope that they can collect an elixir card. If they don’t have weapons to fight enemies, they’ll have to find a sword or a bow in their draw. Keep in mind that these cards have values and that at first Dicey is missing several pips. As players advance through each realm, they are rewarded with new points that they can ask a friend named Seemore to install.
At first, the fight for “Lost in Random” focuses on weapons and healing. It’s limited because Dicey can’t throw numbers greater than three, but as the campaign progresses players discover more options. They earn more cards through side quests or buy them directly from Mannie Dex, a near-ubiquitous vendor who appears in the strangest places.
Mannie is a card seller in Two-town on “Lost in Random”. Players can buy him new cards for the decks. (Electronic Arts)DEPTH IN BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION
More power in “Lost in Random” leads to more choices and allows players to enjoy the depth of combat. Using the concepts of “Foyer” and other collectible card games, players can create decks to emphasize a certain style of play. If players like melee combat, they can add weapons and cards that enhance that. . If they like traps and ranged combat, they can build a deck that emphasizes that.
The possibility of storing the cards of the draws is useful. Players can pin up to three, allowing them to keep valuable cards if they don’t have a high enough roll to use them. It’s an ingenious concept, mixing role-playing and card games to create an innovative gaming avenue, which has so much potential. Zoink just scratches the surfaces.
Unfortunately, “Lost in Random” is not a perfect independent project. The harsh linearity and uneven countryside sometimes delays the game. One of the boring parts is that even can’t switch from one realm to another. The adventure is one-sided. This means that if players miss a side quest, there is no way to go back to it. They have to be thorough. Additionally, the game lacks a traversal element. Even just walks around the world and that’s it. She cannot jump or move with a vehicle. Chance is a world begging to be explored, but there isn’t much to do except shoot clay owls that hold money for cards.
The other flaw is that although “Lost in Random” starts off strong, it winds through the middle and struggles to balance lore and its themes. The storytelling is not as tight as in games such as “Psychonauts 2.” Chance, misfortune, and brotherhood are all key topics, but the kingdom’s disparate dramas don’t explore and fuel these themes until the powerful finale. It feels like the game is scattered halfway through.
Still, “Lost in Random” is a good starting point for a new style of play that holds intriguing potential.
‘Lost to chance’
3½ stars out of 4
Platform: PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch
Evaluation:Everyone 10 years and over