Wednesday 14 October 2015

Lost Dimension Review (PS Vita)

Written by Natalie Houghton

The world now faces total destruction... after being suddenly attacked from out of the blue with half of it being destroyed in an instant. An agent of the coming apocalypse appears issuing an ultimatum "kill me within 13 days or die". The only ones who are capable of stopping this are the 'gifted' - a group of teens with special powers who swiftly have the fate of the world thrust into their hands. In all honesty it sounds like the typical anime 'teens with super powers' trope but it really does manage to transcend that stereotype as not one character is over powered in any way - they are relatively normal humans that each have a gift. Their powers range from levitation, pyrokinesis, precognition, super strength and the ability to copy anyone else's abilities.

You awake at the bottom of a tower, with no memories of how you got there... the only thing that you do know is that 11 other supposed comrades surround you and that you must climb to the top of the tower and stop the man otherwise known as 'the end' from firing his arsenal of nukes and destroying the rest of the world. Sounds simple, right? Wrong... the caveat is that there are traitors amongst your ranks.

Overall, this serves as the primary plot device and I have to admit that the traitor system is quite innovative and the way in which you have to sniff out the traitors is engaging but not impossible - the main character, Sho has the premonition ability and he can also hear other team member's most private and deepest thoughts, by utilising this and diving into the inner depths of a character's psyche. This means he can figure out who the traitor is and influence the rest of the team on who they should vote for in one of the many judgement rounds that you are besieged with at the end of each floor. 

This involves the team voting for one of them to effectively be killed off where they will be erased from this world, dissolving into absolute nothingness, leaving behind only their 'will' - a usable item, so for example if your healer turns out to be the traitor and you vaporise them, then one of the other characters can equip their ‘will’ and use their abilities so you won't be without healing for the rest of the game. Interspersed throughout the dungeon climbing, it is possible to bolster the trust of each team member by raising their camaraderie level as you talk with them and learn more about their situation, the way they feel about things and what they plan to do in the future (if they survive.. that is).

The plot had me hooked. Who is 'the end'? Why is he doing this? And who is the traitor this round? I hurriedly played the game until its conclusion as I so desperately wanted to know... only to find out that it does require a couple of play-throughs to reveal the true ending. Second play-throughs are much easier however, as you carry across your already existing camaraderie and you are automatically given gift exp so you can start with some abilities.
Lost Dimension itself is half a visual novel and half a tactical RPG. From a visual novel standpoint, the animation is rendered in a way which makes it appear almost 3D, it is sublimely crisp and clear and the transitions between each character are smooth although the dialogue can be slightly jarring at times when you start losing characters.

The other main half of the game is the tactical battles, they are simple in appearance but are quite challenging as they have a tendency to occasionally throw you straight into the deep end. The battles are taken in turns between your team of 6 and however many enemies are present. Your team can each move within a set radius of their original starting point, if any enemies are in range they can then attack - but beware the enemies will usually retaliate with a counter-attack if they can. The main tactic that you'll need to both equally utilise and beware of in order to win is the assist mechanic where any characters that are within range of each other will assist their ally in their attack.  For example: If Sho attacks an enemy and two other characters are nearby, not only will Sho attack the enemy - but his two allies will as well. This can lead to some incredibly powerful combos that will allow you to pound the enemy into oblivion. 

Sound during the battles is superb and I thought that the song which played during the final boss battle was quite pleasing as well as being motivational - I'd definitely want to put it on my MP3 player. There is no Japanese voice over available, although the English voice acting is not too bad for once. There are a few slightly strange quirks with this though. for example one of the characters speaks with a fake English accent which is slightly odd as she can't seem to work out if she's pretending to be in the middle of a Victorian tea party or in the east end of London "Care for some tea, mate?". She speaks like this because she thinks it sounds cute which is a bit hmm... I'll just scratch my non-existent beard on that one.

Overall, this is an excellent tactical J-RPG let down only by a slightly anti-climactic ending. But it still has its charms and is well worth playing so go on... get lost in another dimension!


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