Sad victim of the biggest flop of 2014 in Japan, Lost Dimension is given a second chance to shine thanks to Atlus and NIS America who took up the localisation for the West. A chance you shouldn’t miss…
In this turn-based tactical RPG, you play as Shô, a young man sent in an elite unit called the SEALED. This team has been formed in a hurry to counter a dangerous individual who calls himself The End, and seeking no less than to blow up the entire world.
The battle system is very much like Valkyria Chronicles : each unit of one team act one after another, having a limited movement area. You also do have the possibility of having one or several comrades assisting your current character with an extra shot when the enemy is within range. This aspect is crucial to your progression for a very simple reason : your opponents will do exactly the same! Consequently, you’ll have to be careful to keep your characters together so they can cover each other, all the more necessary that even the most common foes cannot be eliminated without the cooperation of several of your characters.
Adding to this, every member of the SEALED possesses a supernatural power : Himeno can cast fire spells, Nagi can levitate, Yoko can boost her teammates’ status, etc. something like the Fantastic Four, save that they are twelve. Each character can also allow a buddy whose turn is over to act again, which has a lot of practical uses.Every unit, friend of foe, has a stamina bar that gets depleted as damage is taken. If the enemy’s stamina reaches zero, its defense will drop dramatically, making it extremely vulnerable to attacks. When a character’s stamina gauge is empty, he goes berserk and attacks the nearest unit, even if it’s an ally. A quite perilous situation which clever strategists will know how to use to their advantage. The architecture of the maps is well thought and encourages you to make the best use of the field around you. Technically speaking, Lost Dimension stands out by a decent modeling on PSVita which kinda makes up for the bland environments.
The particularity in Lost Dimension is that you have in your party several traitors, and you have to find them. Shô is gitfed with psychic powers and will know if there are suspects in the team he has been leading durng one battle. Of course, the suspects are not precisely designated : you just know you had 0,1, 2 or 3 potential traitors in your group. Up to you to switch members regularly and operate by elimination process so as to pin the culprit by entering his mind. This very unusual setting gives Lost Dimension a tremendous appeal : the atmosphere is dark and oppressing. The SEALED members don’t know each other at all and no one can be trusted. The music, very efficient to make you dive further in suspense, features slow and equally oppressive.
Shô, with his natural empathy, will be able to gain the trust of his comrades in arms. They will thus share their own story and show their hidden personality, and some of them are far from shallow. Kojirô’s true self for example gave me the shivers.
Whatever your friendship might be, you have no room for hesitation : at each floor of The End’s giant tower, you will be asked to give a name. The problem is that… it is not your decision alone! Every character votes to get rid of another. From time to time, they will come to ask Shô’s opinion, and you will be able to influence them in voting for the traitor, provided you have found him/her already. If you still haven’t got a clue when the time comes, you will be at risk to lose an honest buddy, who will be disintegrated, leaving nothing but a small object you can equip to inherit his abilities. The search for the traitors has a big influence on how the story goes and has also a huge impact on the final battle. If you’re not rigorous and impartial in your choices, you might be completely unable to clear the game! That is actually Lost Dimension’s biggest flaw : the progression system isn’t flexible one bit and you can’t set the team you’d want. Not that long (between 10 and 20 hours to reach the summit), you can through it a second time quickly despite a new game+ that is far from generous.
Lost Dimension is an extremely innovative RPG, its atmosphere is unique and the gameplay is rock-solid. For all those reasons, it really deserves your attention and it would be a shame to see it bomb a second time. It’s very rich and complex tactically speaking and S-RPG fans should enjoy it despite a somewhat unsatisfying progression system.