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The game takes place in the Kingdom of Random, where everything is decided by the roll of a dice… the Queen of Random’s black dice to be specific. When children in the kingdom turn twelve, they are forced to roll the black dice to determine where they will spend the rest of their lives.
You play as Even, a surly eleven-year-old who lives in Onecroft, where all of Random’s garbage is sent. When Odd, Even’s sister, rolls a six and is taken by the Queen, Even sets off on a journey across all six lands to save her sister and overthrow the evil queen.
This, for me, was a knee-jerk purchase.
I usually go back and forth on whether or not I’m going to buy a game for a while. Lost in Random just had so much going on that I felt the overwhelming need to purchase it. It had a quirky Tim Burton-esque aesthetic to it. I really liked the narrator’s voice. And the combat looked intriguing if a little overly complicated.
I was a little worried that I was falling into a trap, even after I purchased it. I mean, sometimes a trailer can polish a turd to the point that you don’t even realize that you’ve purchased utter crap. However, after actually playing Lost in Random, I can now see it for what it was, and tell you all about it.
I’m going to start with my favorite part of this game.
Whatever else I say about this game, let it be known that the Narrator, and his narration, was amazing.
I put it down to three factors.
- His voice was the perfect balance between a gravely action narrator and soft spoken British guy
- Whoever wrote his dialog did so with great care
- He felt like as much a part of the story as every other character that was introduced… actually he felt like more of a character than half of NPCs in the game.
He just had so much personality that it was hard not to stop whatever I was doing so I could hear every line of his dialog. He would make jokes about the fact that he was a narrator. He actually seemed to care about Even, the subject of his narration. And sometimes he would break the fourth wall to make a point.
I’d really like to get into the parts of the narration that had me completely taken aback, but I’d rather let you see those for yourself.
If you’re a big fan of wordplay, or puns, then you’ll probably enjoy a lot of the naming conventions in this game.
The world of Random is broken up into six cities, and each city is named after, and based on, a specific number. This means that people will have names like Una or Quatro, often with the most ridiculous last name you can think of.
These characters often have crazy voices and equally insane views on the world.
In addition to the hilarious, and yet simultaneously groan-worthy, character names, there is a lot of personality by way of the game’s aesthetic design. Which, if you were wondering, is something akin to a Tim Burton fever dream about a really big casino.
This means that in addition to the humanoid characters like Even and Odd, there are also some really bizarre people who live in Random. There are wolf people, little gribbly people with masks, people with upside-down faces, and people who look like the Magic Man from Adventure Time (if you dropped him into a pile of greasy garbage).
I don’t know that I liked every bit of the relentless quirkiness of this game, but it was much better than having a game completely devoid of personality.
Roll for Initiative
The combat in Lost in Random is an amazing, convoluted mess. It takes a bunch of different ideas and smashes them into a Frankenstein’s monster of mechanics that works, is really fun, and somehow falls short all at the same time.
At the beginning of each battle, Even starts off with only her trusty slingshot, which does precisely zero damage to enemy health. In order to do actual damage, or activate other abilities, she needs to use cards which can do anything from summoning weapons to creating bubbles of slowed time. Unfortunately, the cards can only be activated with points from your dice rolls.
Anyway, the only way to pull cards from your deck, and roll your dice, is to collect crystals which you can break off of your enemies using—you guessed it—your trusty slingshot.
While this system is a bit contrived, it actually works pretty well in practice, especially since time freezes after you roll your dice. This allows you to select cards from your hand without having to worry about getting stabbed.
The random elements of this combat system—pun absolutely intended—are what really make the combat special. This is enhanced by the fact that you can curate your deck any way you want, so even if you don’t draw the card you specifically needed, you should always have some options to keep your fights interesting.
In addition to all of this, there are board game fights. In these specific combats, your dice also serves to move a game piece around a track in order to achieve an objective. This both spices things up, and makes most of the regular combat seem pedestrian by comparison.
A Bad Hand
Despite all the great things about this game—and there are a lot of them—there are also some not-so-great things that weigh it down considerably.
- So many glitches: From disappearing UI elements, to not being able to talk to certain NPCs that you really need to have a conversation with, to getting stuck in certain fights, the glitches are f’reals.
- A severe lack of diversity of character design: You’ll run into the same seven character models more times than you can count.
- Invisible Obstacles: This includes places where you’ll get stuck when walking, and invisible walls in areas where you should clearly be able to walk.
- Flappy Dialog Animations: They looped within seconds, making the characters look like they were having seizures.
- The inability to jump: Speaks for itself.
- Not Enough Cards: About two thirds of the way through the game you will likely have all the cards, thus making your currency worthless.
- Few Enemy Types: The lack of enemy diversity made most fights sort of repetitive.
There were some other, smaller, issues, but these were the most egregious of my particular playthrough.
Overall, Lost in Random is a bizarrely solid game. Despite its many technical issues, repetitive (yet deliciously convoluted) combat, extensively reused assets, and somewhat clunky controls, it still manages to be good—and, in some ways, great. I’ll attribute this to the game’s overflowing personality and willingness to take risks, which really fits a game about random chance.
I’m giving Lost in Random a very lucky 8/10. It could have been a complete flop, but somehow, this house of cards managed to hold together and reach heights that I would not have thought possible.
P.S… Can you do a postscript on a post? Would that be post postscript?
Either way, there was a moment during a fight about three-fifths of the way through the game that caused my wife to freak out, throw the controller at me, and question the very laws of reality… So, do what you will with that.