Surely, the first thing that will excite you about Lost in Random is its Tim Burton-esque art style, bringing this gloomy fairytale world to life with characters that look like wooden carvings from a thrift shop's shelf. The second will be that whimsical soundtrack transporting you to the funny in-between feeling from sitting close enough to the television to see the static on the screen as a kid.
And the third is the moreish tactical gameplay, allowing you to re-roll the odds with magical abilities and immense power. Yep, Lost in Random really is one of the most entertaining games of the year.
Check out Lost in Random in action below!
Random is divided into six realms - Onecroft, Twotown, Threedom, Fourburg, Fivetropolis and Sixtopia. The masked queen rules with her dark dice, deciding every single element of the denizens' lives with roll after roll. Though the population is downtrodden and despondent, it's all they've ever known since the fateful Dice Wars destroyed all other Dice in the world.
Sisters Even and Odd scamper in the village of Onecroft with their friends, playing pretend and defying the queen's rules with their imagination. One day, the monarch and her minions arrive with an announcement. All children on their 12th birthday will be asked to roll her dark dice to determine which realm they will spend the rest of their lives in. While the children clamber across the junk to hide from the queen's gaze, it's ultimately for naught as Odd is stolen by the mechanical spiders and forced to roll the dark dice.
She rolls a six and must stay by the queen's side in Sixtopia, a place where it is said that all dreams come true. However, one year on from Odd's disappearance, Even experiences a terrible nightmare where her sister is terrorised by inky shadows. To find out the truth about what happened to her, she sets off on a quest that will change Random forever.
Even is not alone on her journey, fortunately, as she encounters an ancient sentient Dice in the ruins in the Valley of the Dice. It's in this daring duo that the art and mechanics of Lost in Random shines. With Dicey, Even is able to tap into the magical Dicemension and summon spectral weapons and awesome abilities to fight the queen's forces.
Smashing crystals on the enemies releases energy which is snaffled up by Dicey as Even dashes hither and thither in combat. This energy charges the cards in her arsenal and once fully charged, Even rolls Dicey and stops time totally. The number he rolls determines which of her abilities are available in her hand and the range of cards - Hazard, Cheat, Damage, and Defense - make for excellent combinations that make you feel like a wizard of chaos.
None of these abilities or weapons last very long but they're enough to do a dent in the waves of enemies you'll face across Even's journey, and the more cards you have, the more combinations will crop up. For example, a Time Trap is perfect for containing a cluster of skittering Pawns while you whack and smack a Knight with a sword dripping with poison. And, if you're feeling overwhelmed, dodging through the villains like Kitty Pryde generates energy for Dicey to grab, though it will be a risk to dash so close to danger.
There are also challenges that task Even with completing a game on a big board like snakes and ladders, or roulette, or a deadly new mix of conventional games, in order to complete an objective. The board game piece moves whenever Dicey is rolled and these never felt gimmicky or unnecessary. In fact, I couldn't wait to get into the thick of things and test out the new cards I'd bought from the trader Mannie Dex. That is his real name and he is hilarious.
One might wonder if Lost in Random has different endings, due to its preoccupation with rolling different results and... randomness. That isn't the case which is not necessarily a missed opportunity, but it does undercut the determinant dialogue system as none of these choices have any bearing on the conclusion. Ergo, the game might have benefitted from ditching these different dialogue options for Even and putting that energy into voicing the character throughout her encounters with Random's colourful characters.
And colourful they are. Twotown's residents suffer a curse from the queen that causes their selves to swing rapidly from extremes, eventually causing their negative personality traits to manifest into real people. Or, the warring triplets of Threedom who believe that one of the three killed their father, and so duke it out with ginormous mech soldiers above twisting and turning trenches.
All in all, Lost in Random is an adventure I couldn't wait to continue as soon as I stopped playing. The wondrous deck building mechanics that gave rise to explosive effects, the visually impressive world, the whimsical soundtrack and the story of a young heroine rescuing her sister from an evil queen. There were a few frame rate drops and glitches, mind, but nothing that a day one patch won't smooth over. If you're after a game that is challenging yet thought-provoking, introducing you to sumptuous storybook realms that you won't want to leave, then this is one I wholeheartedly recommend.
Pros: Combat systems are super, curious cast of characters, Mannie Dex's voice actor giving it their all
Cons: A little less conversation and a little more action please
For fans of: Little Nightmares, Psychonauts, Dicey Dungeons
Lost in Random is available September 10 for PC (version tested), PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. Code for review was supplied by the publisher.
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