What if we give in to fear? If we let it drive us, will we allow it to shape our world? Departing from her home in the lowest realm of the six realms, our hero, Even, uncovers these mysteries in the captivating coming-of-age story of Lost in Random. Of course, examining the effects of fear is not Even’s goal. With singular determination, Even leaves behind his parents, the city and everything he has known to win back his sister.
Even’s older brother, named Odd, turns 12 when the game begins, a birthday with special meaning for children in the kingdom of Random. By order of the Queen, the tweens participate in a dice-tossing ceremony that forces them into a new life based on the vagaries of chance. The first few hours of the game are focused on building a world of authentic feeling. From children’s games to a propaganda-laden speech, each element underlines, like a Grimm’s fairy tale, how the laws in Random are dark and unquestionable. Which finally made him want to help Even break them down.
Odd rolls a six and is ripped from her family and her home in Onecroft, the village at the literal and hierarchical bottom of the multi-level kingdom. While the scene should touch my heartstrings, it would have struck more if it had focused more on the family’s reaction to Odd’s abduction. However, this inciting incident provides understandable motivation for my search and sets a puzzling tone for the rest of the game.
Honestly though, Lost in Random is quite haunting thanks to its grim yet beautifully sculpted imagery. The clay art combined with the gothic vibe screams Tim Burton, and Lost in Random absolutely knows it. The opening narration reflects the beginning of Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas in a daring and playful way and that energy that runs through the writing of the game. This lighthearted undertone nicely balances the haunting exterior of Lost in Random.
As I begin my search, I wander through a forgotten and mist-shrouded valley where I discover my cubic companion, Dicey. Armed with my animated die, a handful of cards, and a slingshot, I am ready to face any enemy. The innovative combat of Lost in Random integrates several systems, generally mutually exclusive. Real-time combat is the core layer of the game, using elements of card and dice-based strategy.
While your sling cannot harm the Queen’s minions, it can break chunks of energy-providing crystals that grow on them. By collecting fallen crystal shards, you fill an energy meter. Each time it fills up, one card from your deck is moved to your hand, but you can only have five in total at a time. This is where Dicey comes in. When you are ready, you can move on to the strategic part of the fight by rolling the die. This slows down time and gives you an opportunity to consider your options. Drawing a high number with Dicey allows you to play more cards from your hand or of higher value; These will then manifest imaginative, sometimes funny elements for you to use in the fight in real time. For example, I enjoyed summoning a sword made up of floating metal shards and polyhedral dice to attack enemies. If he needed a more hands-off approach, he called on a large blotch whose scream can harvest crystals or deal damage if combined with a specific card. The combat constantly flows back and forth between the cards and the button-smashing fight.
The system is genuinely creative, runs smoothly, and each layer works together to create a unique experience. Sadly, these systems don’t evolve significantly over time, and at the midpoint of the adventure, my deck was stalling. But Lost in Random keeps things from getting stale by alternating combat challenges with tabletop-inspired arenas. In one of my favorite arenas, I use Dicey and my sling to direct the balls towards a large goal while avoiding enemies that appear around me. The different arenas cleverly shake things up by shifting my goal from defeating enemies to achieving a specific game goal, introducing a much appreciated variety.
As Even travels through the various districts of Random, he witnesses how the actions of others, derived from mistrust and selfishness, make the world worse. In the feudal-inspired Threedom society, the noble triplets tear their kingdom apart, waging war among themselves in the wake of their father’s mysterious death. Two particularly terrifying citizens of Fourburg lose their humanity and nearly kill Even out of greed. And Even’s sister, who appears to him in visions, also seems to succumb to the corrupting influence of fear. Every wonderfully written moment makes me feel, in turn, angry, horrified, and disappointed alongside the protagonist. When Even felt like giving up, I was there with her. But overcoming these struggles in the well-crafted Lost in Random story transforms Even into a hero, not just to his sister, but to the entire kingdom.
This dark fairy tale unites a thoughtful story, an evocative art style, and an intelligent combat system into a single experience. Lost in Random has a lot to offer at any given time, but the game’s weird world and spooky atmosphere make it a great pick for the Halloween season.