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Lost in Random

Lost in Random - Review

In this gothic adventure from Zoink Games, there's only one law: Random rules!

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When people ask me what my favourite Disney movie is, I don't tell them The Lion King, Lilo & Stitch, or a Pixar, Marvel, or Star Wars film, I always go to The Nightmare Before Christmas. Despite being pretty far from traditional Disney, this movie always resonated with me, and I think it has always been down to its macabre yet outstanding look. So needless to say, when I first saw Zoink Games' Lost in Random, a game that seemed to resonate with that Tim Burton-y gothic visual style, I was pretty taken and excited, and now after spending a bunch of the time with the game, I have plenty of thoughts about it.

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But, before I get to those thoughts, what exactly is Lost in Random about? The narrative is set in the world of Random, a grim and unusual place governed by an all-powerful queen who uses a magical dice to set the rules of the land. As part of these laws constructed by the queen, it's expected that every child will roll the magical dice at the age of 12 to determine which of the six regions of Random they will call home for the rest of their lives. At the beginning of the game, this massive event is thrust upon Odd, the sister of the game's protagonist Even, who ends up being snagged from her home after rolling a six and being moved to Sixtopia (the fanciest of the six regions of Random), leading Even to go on an incredible adventure to return her sister back to her family in Onecroft.

With such a momentous task expected of Even, she does of course have some help along the way, help in the form of Dicey, one of the remaining living all-powerful dice that are thought to be extinct after the queen led a war against them years before the events of the game. Dicey is an adorable creature that speaks in mumbles and finds itself in all kinds of daft situations that are hard not to find hilarious a lot of the time. Alike the queen and her notorious black dice, Dicey is tied to Even, with the pair connected by a bond similar to that of a Pokemon and its trainer, and the reason that connection is important is because Dicey can only affect and manipulate the world after Even has gathered enough energy and rolled it.

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This mechanic is crucial to Lost in Random as it's a core component to the combat. The game plays in real-time, seeing you as Even have to dodge and weave between the queen's mechanical foot soldiers, shooting glowing crystals off these foes with your slingshot so that you can power up Dicey with the energy that is dropped. The reason why Dicey needs powering up comes down to the card system in Lost in Random, which sees Even wield a collection of powerful cards that allow her to cast abilities, such as using a sword or bow to damage enemies, place hazards such as bombs, use supportive abilities i.e. healing potions, amid plenty of other mechanics. Dicey gathers the energy to give you a selection of cards, then you roll Dicey and the number he lands on is the amount of points you have to play cards with. The higher number, the more cards you'll be able to play, as the more powerful cards cost more points, for example the high-damage Hammer of Two-Town costs three points to cast, whereas a basic healing elixir only costs one point.

You might think that this would make for a truly complex combat system, but in effect, it's the opposite. Until you have enough energy to warrant rolling Dicey, you'll be focused entirely on avoiding damage and shooting crystals, then when you roll Dicey and look to explore the strategy side of the combat, time becomes frozen giving you the freedom to make decisions at an ample pace. Once you've played your cards and are ready for action again, you can unfreeze time and begin taking out enemies, earning crystals all over again, restarting the gameplay loop.

Zoink has even taken combat and gone a step beyond, as there are some encounters that use the random dice-rolling system of the game to also play a board game. You'll have to engage in the typical combat I previously outlined while also moving a playing piece to the end of a board, for example, with the piece only moving when you've rolled Dicey. It's an addition that works seamlessly with the combat system, and allows a lot of variety in the many encounters you'll find throughout the game, and if anything, they make regular combat scenarios feel boring in comparison, which is surprising as they are far from that.

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Lost in Random

But, despite combat being a massive part of Lost in Random, the narrative and storyline, and exploring this bizarre yet truly unique world is just as important. The core story is genuinely interesting and will make you desperate to keep playing, even if it is rather twisted and a little unsettling at times. Zoink has also done a fantastic job at keeping the world feeling fresh, although you will notice the general gothic design style throughout Random that is a driving force for the identity for the game.

I will say that aside from following the main narrative and engaging in combat, Lost in Random does feel a little lacking in places. Random is a gorgeous place, but the linear nature of the level design does make side-quests feel rather one-dimensional and a little dull, and the collectibles don't do a lot to aid this. The majority of the time, you'll be expected to simply shoot clay pots to earn gold to buy more cards, or even find storybook pages that give a little more narrative insight, but neither are all that exciting.

Yet with this being said, Lost in Random is a pretty incredible indie game, as it's one of the most unique concepts I've ever experienced, and it's been handled in such a well-thought out and fluid manner. You never feel out of your depth in the game, and in fact it's so enthralling that you'll want to keep on playing. It's easy to look at the concept of Lost in Random and feel a little uncertain, as it's a game that looks at the industry and established genres we know and refuses to conform, but if you're willing to roll the dice and take a risk with what Zoink has created, you'll be in for a unique journey that doesn't disappoint.

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Lost in RandomLost in Random
08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
+
Combat system is incredibly well-designed. Storyline is engaging. Visuals are an absolute highlight.
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Side-quests are a little lacking. Exploration and the search for collectibles can be dull.
overall score
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Lost in Random - ReviewScore

Lost in Random - Review

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

In this gothic adventure from Zoink Games, there's only one law: Random rules!



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