Fate can be a fickle thing, one moment you are happily living your life despite the troubles, the next you are thrust into a world of chaos and randomness, hoping to save a loved one from danger. That is the premise of Lost in Random by Zoink Games, the latest of EA Originals indies that continue to impress outside of the AAA sphere.
A gothic action-adventure akin to a fairy tale come to life, all centred around the core idea of randomness and the power of the ordinary-looking dice. In a dark kingdom where your future is decided by a roll when you turn twelve, our heroine Even loses her sister, Odd, to the clutches of the powerful Queen. Sent off to the region of Sixtopia, that would have been the last time Even would see her sister.
However, fate intervenes a year later, with nightmares pushing Even to go on a journey across six distinct regions of varying visual styles, people, and of course danger.
Even is not alone on her path, and is soon joined by Dicey, a magical dice with special powers long thought to be extinct, and the unlikely pair begins to unravel the dark secrets of the kingdom of Random in a compelling examination of what it means to grow up.
The unsettling yet seemingly captivating art style for Lost in Random channels the best of Tim Burton, and the game runs with it. Combine that with the humour and more lighthearted delivery of everything else in Lost in Random, and you have yourself a delightful combination.
The writing for Lost in Random definitely stands out, twisting an otherwise common tale of good triumphing over evil into a beast of its own. The way Eisner Award-winning author Ryan North weaves a common thread through the different inhabitants in this kingdom and their perception of their place amongst randomness is quite a spectacle.
Even and Dicey are clearly the stars of the show, with her’s unrelenting spirit and the non-verbal shenanigans of the dice, every moment is brimming with personality and life.
The supporting cast is also great, particularly the evil Queen, whose cold, calculated nature makes her a force to be reckoned with. Even the random and curious folks of Random all bring a certain level of mystery and intrigue to normal conversations.
With unpredictability at the heart of it all, the narrative continues to tease and turn, providing more impetus for players to finish off Even’s exceptional journey. While it can be enjoyed by the young and old, it definitely hits home for those of us who have ever felt the stinging pain of plans going awry.
The story should be experienced by everyone, and you bet that each individual will have their own take on things, just like how it is in Random.
Thankfully, you do have control when it comes to the actual gameplay of this action adventure. Throughout the different regions, you get to explore unique towns that are full of quests, breakable pots full of coins, and secrets to find. Quests will not necessarily work the brain, as you would get used to fetching items around the towns, but at least they are relatively short and rewarding.
As you help out the residents and learn more about the world, you begin to accrue cards through conquest and purchase. These are utterly important, as Even has no means of combating the many foes that stand in her way, with dodging her only defense.
Instead, she utilises her trusty slingshot to break apart crystals on enemies and around the environment, powering up Dicey for a fateful roll. Depending on your roll, you get to play a variety of cards that can turn things in your favour.
It could be a useful sword or bow, or a timely health potion to heal up. There are also traps and hazards to keep your enemies in check, and with five main card categories – Damage, Defense, Weapon, Hazard, and Cheat – there is much strategic flexibility at your disposal.
With just 15 cards for any encounter, the way you can combine abilities and skills are quite engaging and fun to a certain extent. While there are certain instances when you are just waiting for enemies to spawn in order to get more crystals, the action is well worth the wait. However, it is inevitable for the deckbuilding aspect to be stagnant, with the combat systems not evolving to spring more surprises.
Outside of such standard combat scenarios, Lost in Random also includes another twist in the formula by introducing large-scale board games. These living, breathing battle arenas have different rules and requirements, and players are expected to adapt and change up their tactics in order to overcome the odds.
Although you will always be rolling Dicey and fighting against the Queen’s forces, the context in which you are doing so is refreshed quite frequently to keep you on your toes.
While all that paints a rosy picture for Lost in Random, it is not without some quirks. The dialogue and the delivery will not work for some, with its charm wearing thin at certain points. Movement is also kind of heavy, and takes some getting used to. The in-game map is only helpful for locating main areas, but you do not have a clear idea of where you are at any given time. These could all be certain deal-breakers if the game was any longer.
As fate would have it, Lost in Random is perfectly balanced as a shorter game, filled to the brim with creative execution and freedom that resulted in something quite unique. The card and dice-rolling system is a great way to change things up, and having Even and Dicey at the forefront of everything makes it a worthwhile adventure to experience. For something truly different and interesting, it would not hurt to roll the dice with Lost in Random.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
An exciting story of evens and odds, Lost in Random is the kind of action-adventure that is worth experiencing no matter who you are.
Gameplay - 8/10
Story - 8.5/10
Presentation - 9/10
Value - 9/10