Lost in Random
Developer: Zoink Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X and Windows)
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 10/09/21
A code was provided for review purposes.
With an art style that mimics that of all the Tim Burton classics; Lost in Random is taking a bold step. From the characters, the music and the world that Zoink Games have created I was immediately reminded of films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride. They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and for the most part it’s done incredibly well here.
Every Kingdom Has Its Ruler
In the land of Random there are six kingdoms; all designed after the Queen’s six sided black dice. Everything used to be in harmony with equal balance, every person having their own magical dice to decide their fates. Life was random and left to chance until the Queen decided she wanted to be the only one with a dice; so she banished them all and anyone who opposed this ruling was dealt with accordingly. When children reach the ripe old age of 12 years old, it’s the Queen’s black dice that will determine their fate. Whichever number the dice lands on will be where the children live out the rest of their lives.
You play as Even on a quest to save you sister Odd from the clutches of the Queen, unfortunately she rolled a six which means she is living out the rest of her days in Sixtopia. Deemed as a “gothic, fairytale-inspired action/adventure” you have to traverse each kingdom; meeting the shady characters of Random to reach the Queen’s palace. Along the journey you also befriend a magical dice called Dicey who is the last remaining in existence.
There’s a real mixture of gameplay styles combining linear exploration with card-based combat, as well as throwing in some board game style sections. There are side quests and different card types to collect along the way but on the whole it’s still fairly linear, there’s no back tracking or re-visiting each area so it’s important to make sure you’re finished before progressing forward. Side quests are usually presented in the form of finding an important item or delivering a message between the residents. I wouldn’t say any provided a real challenge but it was a good way for the developers to expand the universe within Random.
The battle system is one of the most interesting game mechanics within Lost in Random; providing a unique take on the traditional card-based style. You collect cards by purchasing them from the card merchant or receiving them after the successful completion of a side quest or main story objective. Enemies have a specific point at which you can use Even’s slingshot to shoot off, this will spawn blue crystals which Dicey then collects. The more crystals you collect the more card options become available. Then all you need to do is press the X button and you’ll be given the chance to roll your dice and play your cards, freezing time in the process.
You’ve got different types of cards which can all turn the tide in battle. Some cards can provide an additional weapon for Even whilst others can slow your enemies down or turn Dicey into a ticking time bomb! There’s a great variation on offer and choosing which ones to have with you in battle is half the fight. You’re allowed to have up to 15 cards and the more you acquire the harder it gets to choose. I can honestly say I was still changing my deck up to the final parts of the game which is a testament to the developers and game mechanic they’ve created. It keeps things fresh and exciting trying out new battle tactics.
Roll The Dice Of Fate
Now to move onto the characters and the accompanying kingdoms they inhabit. Every character is voice acted, with some speaking English and others complete gibberish. You’ll be visiting areas such as Two-Town and Fourburg. They’re all wittingly named with the numerical flourish right up until the very end. Each step brings you closer to the Queen. Once you’ve visited a couple of the towns you do start to see the same character designs, that’s one of the only things I would have liked to have seen develop. It would have been good to see different designs based on the environment you’re in.
The colour palette does tend to stay consistent across each of the places you visit; it’s all very dark, gloomy and fitting of that gothic theme. There are a few changes to this formula in a couple of areas but very few and far between. Towards the end of each area you’ll find yourself faced with some kind of boss encounter; none of these I found challenging but I imagine it can depend on which cards you’ve put in your deck.
As well as the unique battle system there are other interesting encounters involving giant board game pieces, I don’t want to spoil too much in terms of how these sections play out as I found them really refreshing; but you’ll know when it happens. An unexpected surprise!
From start to finish you’ll most likely clock between 10-15 hours with Lost in Random. As I said previously it’s fairly linear and you don’t have to worry about the side quests if they’re not your thing. Unless you’d like to run through the whole game I’d say there’s little replay value here.
A Darker Shade Of Grey
Now for the bad stuff. The performance on Switch for the most part is great. However, there are times when I was moving the camera around and the game world would glitch with textures and environments moving or completely disappearing. The difference between handheld and TV play is slight but given the strong narrative and gorgeous art style I’d advise to go for the TV. I found the map really unhelpful which is a shame as there are many areas which have multiple paths and a lot of narrow passageways. This was due to the design and the fact you have no way of knowing where you are on the map, I found myself trying to trace my route by trying to remember which path I was on. It seems like a small thing but having access to a map just feels useless when you can’t use it for its intended purpose.
So Lost in Random isn’t perfect. But what game is. Where the game falls flat it makes up in spades with a fantastic art style, a strong story and a unique battle system that keeps the game fresh long into your adventure with Even and Odd. If you’re a fan of Tim Burton and anything quirky, dark and emotive I’d highly recommend Lost in Random; hopefully if there’s a sequel they’ll sort that map out!
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Lost in Random from the Nintendo eShop
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.