Lost In Random Is Too True To Its Own Premises
Lost in Random is one of the most brilliantly inventive games of this year. The idea of rolling a dice – rather than the resulting outcomes – the focus of the experience draws from the real joy of playing board games with friends. It doesn’t matter who wins, as much as who is winner. The games cease to matter as soon as they end, but when the dice are in your hand, shaking and clicking when you blow on them for luck, they’re the most important thing in the world. It’s that moment, when the dice are full of covered wagon possibilities, that Lost in Random exploits. Rather unusually, his biggest problem is that he has too many great ideas and never really knows what to do with them.
Take the roll of the dice, for example. The fight is both inventive and short of ideas. In battles – which take place in defined arenas with raised walls rather than just the open world – you don’t do any damage initially. You are armed with a slingshot and use it to smash the crystals of your enemies. These crystals charge your dice, giving you cards. The mix between dice rolls and decks might seem like overkill, but in reality it’s pretty straightforward – before the fights start, you choose 15 powers from any you have, including several of certain powers if you so choose. wish. When fully charged, the game randomly selects five of these powers, then you cast and can spend whatever number you get to perform them.
Look, it’s easier in practice, okay. I promise. It’s good. You even freeze time after each throw, allowing you to set traps, move to new positions, or land sneaky punches. The problem is, the game puts this premise above everything else. “You roll for powers” is cool, but it has to be a power that works with the randomness of the dice, fits into the card system, and makes sense with time freeze. You’ll unlock most of the maps around halfway through the campaign, and even if you haven’t yet, you still have somehow.
This is because the game’s loyalty to this system is actively working against its own innovation. At the start you will get a card that has a bomb. Then later you’ll get a card that has – wait – three bombs. You will get a giant dice that hits your enemies, then a giant hand, then a giant ghost. Have you been using this sword for ages? Here, take a hammer. The game could do so much more with time freeze combat, or random power combat, or deckbuilding combat, but it’s clear that it’s struggling to do anything that allows it to use all three. .
It’s not just in combat either – worldbuilding suffers from an overabundance of ideas as well. The first world you visit, Two-Town, sees every citizen having a diametrically opposed opposite, something that started out as a personality change and quickly manifested in physical form. This leads to Two-Town Two, an upside down version of town, built on top to house all of the new bodies. Threedom sees royal triplets fighting with giant mechs. Fourburg is an enchanted casino.
These are brilliant ideas, and each distinct from one another, but – again – Lost in Random tries too hard and sees diminishing returns. It’s not just an upside down town, mechanical civil war and casino, it’s “What if Tim Burton does all three?” The result is that they all look very burtonesque, full of grotesque, comedic, gothic creatures that everyone thinks is the funniest character in the game and can’t wait to prove it.
Because of this, the big ideas of the worlds themselves cease to matter. Two-Town is quite engaging, but you quickly realize that Threedom is largely the same, even if the premise of each location is completely different. The mechs are almost entirely unrelated to Threedom, with the focus instead on the three Burtony triplets.
Lost in Random tries to do too much and therefore leaves me wanting more.
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