Lost Dimension is a unique title. Developed by Lancarse and published by ATLUS, the game is a tactical strategy JRPG for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3. Though the game looks and plays very well on both systems, I played most of the game on PlayStation Vita. On the surface, Lost Dimension looks a lot like other strategy RPGs, but it has a few elements that set it apart from the crowd and make it an experience that’s worth your time and money.
The main thing that makes Lost Dimension unique is its story. A strange villain that simply calls himself The End has threatened to unleash his evil power onto the world – unless somebody kills him first. The End summons a strange tower from another dimension, and challenges the people of the world to attempt to climb the tower and kill him. You (as a character named Sho Kasugai) are a part of a group that has been sent into the tower to attempt the assassination. Unfortunately, the tower has interfered with your and everyone else’s memory of what happened before entering the tower. To make matters worse, The End warns the group that there is a traitor among them. In order to keep progressing through the tower, your team must “erase” one of its members. This isn’t anything we haven’t seen in JRPGs before, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting. To shake the story up, the traitor will change every time you play the game (starting after your first playthrough) – nobody is safe, and nobody can be trusted, which makes the story full of tension. I won’t spoil any of the story here, but I will say that uncovering clues in dialogue (in addition to your character’s ability to hear certain thoughts) and erasing team members is a lot of fun, especially when you take into account that your behavior in-game can affect who the traitor turns out to be. When the battles started getting repetitive (which happens during a game that lasts roughly thirty hours), it’s Lost Dimension‘s story that kept me playing. I genuinely wanted to know who the traitor was, and that added an element of excitement to the gameplay.
When it comes to the gameplay, Lost Dimension isn’t too different from your average strategy RPG. If you’ve played Fire Emblem, Code Name S.T.E.A.M., or the Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor series, you’ll feel right at home with the movement and combat system in Lost Dimension. Initially, your party consists of eleven individuals, each with their own special ability. Your special ability is “vision,” and you’ll also acquire a skill that allows you to fire shots that never miss. Other abilities include pyrokinesis, levitation, healing, and a ton of other awesome traits. Each character can also learn skills that they can use during battles. The catch is that only six party members can embark on any one mission. To make matters worse, characters are periodically “erased,” meaning that each time someone is “erased,” it’s possible that one of your strongest fighters (or one of your favorite characters) could be lost forever. This adds a lot of intensity to every single battle, and it makes every decision feel important. I really love this part of Lost Dimension, and it’s one of the reasons that the experience feels fresh and unique.
Luckily, even party members who don’t participate in a mission will gain EXP, so this makes it less painful to lose one of your favorite fighters. It’s also a good reason to experiment with different combinations of party members – normally, even in RPGs with many possible party members, I find a group of favorites and stick with it. Lost Dimension removes that comfort, and forces you to consider the pros and cons of all party members. There are some pretty cool elements in Lost Dimension‘s combat. If you attack an enemy that is in close proximity to another party member, that character will help you out with an assist attack. Your characters can also unleash counter attacks after being attacked. Your enemies have these same options, though, so be careful when taking on multiple enemies in close quarters. You can also use your turn to give gifts to other characters, or you can forfeit your turn entirely in order to give another character an extra turn (provided that the character has already taken one turn in the current phase). There are limits on movement, but the game ditches the classic strategy RPG grid-based maps and replaces them with environments that look and feel open – even though there are limits on where you character can move during each turn. The environments tend to look similar after a while, but it’s still nice to see that the developers put more effort into the battle areas than we see in most games in the genre. After your mission, you can head to the generator to generate new weapons or dissolve old ones. Gadgets, apps, and items are also available at the generator, and you’ll need to visit it frequently if you want to survive Lost Dimension. The game can get pretty tough (especially towards the end of the game), but it’s still accessible to players new to the genre as well as appealing to strategy RPG veterans. Once you find out which items are best for certain characters, shopping, generating, and dissolving become a really fun part of the game, and it echoes the item management strategy that is so present in the RPG genre.
Lost Dimension looks great, but it doesn’t look any better or worse than other titles on the PS3 and PS Vita. The anime style is awesome, and it really contributes to the more cinematic moments in the game. That being said, the visuals are pretty average. The same goes for the audio – the game’s music is great, and the developers did a great job with matching tracks with appropriate in-game scenarios. The voice acting, though, is a bit disappointing for the supporting characters. Sho and The End are voiced quite well, but the other characters don’t leave much of an impression. You’ll interact with these characters in between missions. All of the characters are initially very suspicious of all the others, which makes sense. Though they never stop being suspicious, longer sections of dialogue and more character development does show up as the game progresses. Like the time management aspect of Persona 3 and Persona 4, there is a limited amount of time that you can have meaningful conversations with your party members. Between missions, you can talk to other characters as much as you want, but only the first three conversations have the ability to improve your relationships or reveal important information. This limit can get pretty annoying for players that are focusing mainly on the story, but those players can just play on easier difficulties to get through the missions and into more dialogue. I wish that the visuals, character interactions, and voice acting were better, but these elements are pretty average. The social system could have been a lot better, and I wish that it had been more refined before release. There’s the potential for a deep and satisfying social system, but the game just doesn’t take advantage of the opportunities that it has. The social system ends up being an interesting element, but it doesn’t stand out as much as it could have.
You probably already know whether or not you’re going to like Lost Dimension. If you like strategy / tactical RPGs, story-driven JRPGs, anime-style games, or any games that combine those elements, you’re going to want to pick up Lost Dimension at launch. Players who are interested in the genre but haven’t tried it out yet could do a lot worse than starting with Lost Dimension. It’s definitely a must-have for PS Vita owners, and it comes highly recommended for PS3 owners. At its core, Lost Dimension is a solid tactical JRPG, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It’s a game that you’re going to want to play more than once, and that really means something in today’s gaming market. The game is engrossing, entertaining, and fun, so I recommend that you pick this one up. Even if you don’t fall in love with it, you’ll definitely have a good time unraveling the mysteries of The End and his tower.
Review copy provided by ATLUS