Lost in Random is the latest release from the EA Originals program, which has previously given us the likes of Unravel, A Way Out, and 2021 Game of the Year contender “It Takes Two”. This program allows EA to work with independent studios and allows them to publish their games without artistic compromise. Lost in Random was developed by the Swedish based Zoink, who were also responsible for the previous EA Originals title “Fe” which didn’t impress me quite as much as Lost in Random has!
Lost in Random is a single player story driven game set in the world of Random, where all decisions are made by the ruling mad Queen and her magical dice. Once they reached their twelfth birthday, each child is given the honour of rolling the dice, with the result deciding where that child would spend the rest of their life. Rolling a one would send them to Onecroft to live a life of poverty, whilst a three would mean a life in Threedom surrounded by a civil war fought by three warring siblings. The best result would be to roll a six and live a life in luxury in the Queens palace. On her twelfth birthday, Odd’s roll of the dice resulted in that life of luxury, but her sister Even sensed something was wrong, and she soon embarks on a journey to find out her sisters fate. Soon after leaving Onecroft, Even is united with Dicey, and becomes only the second inhabitant of Random who possesses a magical dice, and then starts her journey through the various worlds that make up Random.
The first thing I liked about Lost in Random is the styling of the world and characters, where the developers have lovingly taken inspiration from various genres such as Tim Burton, stop-motion animation and Grimm fairy-tales. However, some of the textures can look a bit dirty and grimy and at times I thought more use of colour would enhance the look, especially when Even ventures into more luxurious locations. Each world of Random is also themed in a way to suit its name. A good example of this is found once you reach the second world “Two-Town” where you encounter NPC’s who have two sides to their personalities which over time have resulted in the Major having a physical alter-ego called Royam (Mayor spelled backwards), who is the main boss that will need defeating. Most of the areas will feature these unique characters, however I would have like to have seen some of the other NPC’s given the same uniqueness, as you will find the exact same character models in all the areas.
Each one of the number-themed worlds is essentially an open world for Even to explore and complete various side-quests, some of which will move the main storyline along. At times the open world will close off and this is where the combat gameplay kicks in. Enemies will spawn and Even will use her catapult to break crystals on the enemies, which when collected will add a card to your hand, until finally you get to roll Dicey. Whichever number Dicey lands on will dictate how many points you have to spend, and each card has a numeric points value. These cards feature power-ups to Even, such as turning the catapult into a bow and arrow which does damage to opponents, or equipping a giant hammer, to cards which will heal Even, or slow down enemies, all of which allows Even to defeat all the enemies in an area, and therefore proceed the main story. The cards that you have in battle are 15 that are all pulled from your main deck, so if your preference is to spawn bombs, then you can put all your owned bomb cards into your deck of 15. This deck can be modified and changed to suit how you want to play the game.
At the start these battles can seem exciting and challenging, but unfortunately they do become a grind later on. The first battle doesn’t differ much from the last one, and the cards don’t change much either. I was hoping that as you upgrade Dicey to enable him to roll a six, you would unlock more powerful cards that cost six to play, but this never happens, so it never really changes how the battles play out. In fact, you gain the most powerful card very early. Some of the battles are board game themed, which does make a refreshing change once you first play them, but unfortunately are not as interesting as they could have been. They play like an ordinary battle but each roll moves a playing piece around the combat arena. In some cases landing on a correct space will fire a rocket at the enemy, or raise a shield, but still all take place whilst you do the standard similar combat. If there was more depth to some of these battles it would have made a huge improvement to the game.
Where Lost in Random really excels is in the character design, dialogue and story. Some of the people you will meet are really quite wonderfully written. Mannie Dex is a character who is a walking talking cupboard who appears in each area as a card seller, and his dialogue when turning up in strange areas is very funny. There is also the Shadowman, who used to be the boogieman, but now is upset that in reality everyone has forgotten how scary he was due to the ongoing war in Threedom. The quality of the design and writing was the only reason I decided to grind through the generic battles as I wanted to see where the story finished.
Overall, Lost in Random is a very well crafted and written single player experience, with loads of great characters and dialogue. Its a shame that the combat element lets it down with its lack of variety. However, if, like me, you get invested in the story and the characters, there is a good 30 hours entertainment ahead.
Lost In Random
Lost In Random is a wonderfully written and crafted single player story, only let down by a repetitive combat system that had the potential to be so much better.
- Great story and characters
- Six distinct and unique worlds to explore
- Card combat system easy to pick-up
- Repetitive combat encounters
- Boardgame sequences could have been so much better
- Confusing maps and POI markers