Lost Dimension Review: Watch Your Front
Kalvin Martinez / Jul 27th, 2015 No Comments
Trust is tough to come by. However, it is liberating to put your faith in someone because you can let your guard down. But even when you can put your trust in others, you need to keep a look out for those trying to bring you down. Gza of the Wu-Tang Clan summed it up perfectly when he said, “I’m trapped in a deadly video game, with just one man/ So, I don’t only watch my back, I watch my front.”
Lost Dimension on its surface is your typical Japanese role-playing game — it features an anime-inspired art style and apocalyptic scenario. When digging deeper, the game reveals its satisfying tactical combat system and excellent characterization. What truly makes the game remarkable is its traitor system. It adds stakes and tension to the game’s progression, and makes the game stand out among others in the genre.
This is The End. No really, this is The End. A radical, maniacal figure called The End is hell bent on destroying everything. He’s already caused massive destruction before erecting a massive, twisted tower called the Pillar. This aggression is too much and The End’s plan of total annihilation prompts the government stuffed suits to bring in the elite team, S.E.A.L.E.D. These soldiers with special psychic powers have never met each other before, but desperate times call for exacting measures.
When S.E.A.L.E.D. enters the Pillar they are confronted by The End. He tells these strangers there is a traitor in their midst and they need to discover the identity of the traitor if they hope to progress through the Pillar’s five levels. This throws these 11 soldiers into a frenzy, with each member questioning everyone’s action and motives. It is up to everyone to vote on a traitor and wipe the traitor from existence. This causes players to ask themselves important questions. What is the meaning of trust when the fate of the world is on the line? How far would you go to the save the world?
The premise for Lost Dimension is nothing terribly exciting. A crazed maniac threatens the world and a special unit of powered people need to prevent his plan from coming to fruition — stop if you’ve heard this one before. Where the game makes up for the tried-and-true narrative thrust is in its strong characterization.
The 11 members of S.E.A.L.E.D. have distinct, compelling personalities. The characters grow over time as the main character, Sho deepens his bonds with them in battle and through conversation. The traitor system is the big game changer because it adds another dimension to building relationships in the game and how much to buy into what each character presents.
Being part of a special unit is hard, especially when you’re thrown into an arduous situation with 10 other people you’ve just met. Lost Dimension’s combat is straightforward. After entering the Pillar, you need to embark on a number of missions to progress to higher levels. Every battle allows you to bring six members of S.E.A.L.E.D. onto the field. Before the mission begins, you can position them anywhere on the battlefield. Pairing fighters with complimentary styles is often in everyone’s best interest.
Battles are turn-based, with your party and enemies alternating turns after every unit has taken an action. Combat is tactical, so movement is limited. Characters must use basic attacks or psychic gifts such as pyrokinesis or teleportation during their turn. All attacks use sanity. The stronger the attack a team member uses, the larger psychic toll their exact.
Aggressive strategies and heavy attacks aren’t always a good idea because once sanity is depleted, team members go berserk. Berserk mode makes allies supremely strong and terrifying, but they lose all control and become much like an enemy unit. While a well-placed berserk unit could turn the battle in your favor, they’re just as likely to take out members of your team.
Eliminating all enemy units before the wipe you out is the M.O. There are some minor nuances you can take advantages of to turn the tide of battle. Movement and placement is very important. A huge component of the strategy in Lost Dimension is ally-assisted attacks. When allied units are in close proximity and attack range of a single unit, they’ll chain together and execute additional basic attacks. This can help finish off enemies with quickness.
Every member can defer their actions to give another member a turn. This can be used to help rush a stronger unit to get the upper hand on a powerful enemy, or to give a healing team member the chance to revive or heal a severely injured ally. There is much more to combat, which makes it satisfying to discover new little facets of the combat.
I Got Your Back
What really makes the game shine is the traitor system. This adds a level of meaning to the generally second nature leveling/grinding found in JRPGs. Instead of focusing on leveling up everyone or a core group of favorite fighters, you have to take into account that one of them may betray you at any point as you climb the tower.
It is easy to sacrifice or find the traitor at the first few floors because you haven’t invested much effort or emotion into your team. However, once you’ve made it to the higher levels, it becomes an extremely difficult task. At this point, you’ve invested heavily both in forming bonds with teammates and making them effective members of your raiding party. Not only do you need to find the actual traitor among you, but you need to weigh whether the truth is worth sacrificing a team member you’ve made both formidable in battle and grown to like.
Do you erase someone from existence with pure intentions or do you pursue justice and truth while getting rid of a valuable friend and fighter? Making the wrong choice will make things messy and difficult in the final showdown.
Lost Dimension is a pleasant surprise. It seems like just another in a long line of JRPG with a strategy/tactical bent, but thanks to its clever, complex traitor system, it becomes something more. Ferreting out betrayal among teammates you’ve grown close to is an exhilarating, daunting task. It adds depth both to the story and gameplay, making Lost Dimension a hard game to put down.
The summer has been lukewarm in terms of games, but even in a stronger climate of games Lost Dimension would stand out.
Lost Dimension was reviewed on the PS3/PS Vita using a code of the game provided by the publisher.
tags: atlus , Atlus USA , Lost Dimension , Lost Dimension Review , review