GAME REVIEW | Lost Dimension (PlayStation 3)
I'm a fan of strategy games, and action RPGs. I'm also a fan of anime. So Lancarse's new game (published in the West by Atlus), Lost Dimension, seems to be made for someone like me. Lost Dimension is about a military group with special abilities, or Gifts. A mysterious structure appears, and regular defense forces are powerless to stop the malevolent being who seems to be responsible for this catastrophe. He is known as The End, and the the structure is known as the Pillar. So far, The End is responsible for the destruction of most of the world. SEALED, this special team of individuals with Gifts, enters the Pillar to confront The End; but once they enter, The End has the upper hand. SEALED can save the world- if they participate in a game of death.
Lost Dimension, like the Shin Megami Tensei: Persona games, plays out its plot in a fashion akin to a visual novel. Early on, there are a few cut scenes which look like they are from an anime. It's a shame that these scenes are so poor. These anime-style cutscenes were a mistake, and I'm glad that most of the story is told in the style of 2d, partially animated dialogue. It appears that the production did not have enough of a budget to create scenes that were better animated.
Most of the plot is told through text and voice acting. More important conversations are fully voiced, while other scenes tend to be partially voiced. Players inhabit the role of Sho Kasugai our main hero. As tends to be the case with Japanese video game heroes, Sho has amnesia. That is the least of his problems. The End has told SEALED that there is a traitor among the group, and they have to vote on each unlocked level of the Pillar. Sho has a Vision ability, which allows him to learn who he can trust, and who he can't. So with this knowledge, Sho is able to talk with his team in an attempt to nail the traitor.
You complete missions so you can gain vision points, which gives you 3 chances per level to clear a suspect's name. Having a person eliminated from your team means a lot, especially if you appreciate their skills in battle. You can vote any way you want, so you can play the game maliciously, and have someone erased although you know he or she absolutely innocent. That level of freedom makes playing a lot more interesting than just watching a story play out. A weak component of Sho's unique ability is when he uses a vision point for a "deep vision," which is just you moving Sho around in a white space, chasing after one of your fellow SEALED members. There is no complicated series of button presses in deep vision. You don't fight anything, nor do you have to answer any questions. All you have to do is chase someone and wait to hear if the person is guilty.
The gameplay takes place in areas created by The End, and each floor looks different from another. One area will resemble city streets, while another will look like an area overtaken by nature. I am a few levels, in, and it seems that these areas, and the enemies, may have more significance than they initially had. There are two great elements of Lost Dimension's battle system. The first is the assist. Assists can be done by both you and your enemies. If your teammates are close enough to your target, they will also attack. This is great for you, but heart-breaking if you are on the receiving end. Many enemies can assist each other, turning a single move into an absolute defeat. Lost Dimension's other neat feature is the defer. A defer allows a character to move more than once, allowing them to attack again, or move away from potential harm. The defer feature saved my characters' lives, and on other occasions it saved me some mission time.
Let's talk about the negatives of Lost Dimension's gameplay. During your turn, you can move the camera any way you like, 360 degrees around your character. When it's the enemy's turn, the camera is absolutely atrocious. The camera is not positioned right behind each enemy, so you are "treated" to the view of a wall as an enemy moves behind it. If I had to speculate as to what got cut in the budget, this and the anime cut scenes look like they got the short end of the stick.
A soundtrack can enhance your gaming experience or destroy it. I think that Lost Dimension's music is simply there. It's not memorable, nor does it annoy. The main theme you hear every time you launch the game is reminiscent of an anime theme. Some anime music is so fantastic that you'd like to hear it every day. Lost Dimension's main theme is just a song that echos themes found in the plot. You'll forget it as soon as you're done with the game.
Graphically, the level of quality in the 3D models, backgrounds and stages are what I would expect from a game that exists both on the PS3 and the PlayStation Vita. They are just fine, but not a high water mark for the home console. Certain touches keep Lost Dimension from looking sterile. The robot enemies have glowing trim on their bodies in varied colors.
Lost Dimension is an engaging action-RPG. I would like to complete it to see what The End and SEALED's relationship is, and why The End has put the world into such disarray. I see potential in Lost Dimension as a series, but better hands and creative eyes need to work on it going forward. Although I like the concept of exposing a traitor within your ranks, the SEALED characters aren't great. I don't really care about them, but I do care about the plot. Lost Dimension is a solid first step towards something much better.
Final Grade: 7.5/10
A post-review note!
I have encountered a bug in the game which can prevent you from properly proceeding with the game. It is on the third floor, during the end of a mission called "Alarms" I expect that this will be patched, but until then, please keep this in mind along with my criticism of Lost Dimension. I have passed this mission, but the mission ended without fulfilling the proper win conditions.