Title: Lost Dimension
Developer: Lancarse, Atlus
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 988 MB
NA Availability: Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: Yes
Strategy RPGs are a breed of games that requires the most patient of gamers to play. Some hardcore games of the genre require a lot of patience and a lot of grinding to be able to play. The gameplay sometimes is rather slow in this genre as well, with a few exceptions. Some SRPGs have been known to combine elements with more action-based games, making an experience that is much faster-paced than others.
Valkyria Chronicles is one of these games. That series combined turn-based RPG mechanics with Third Person Shooter elements to create a very unique experience. Developers Atlus and Lancarse pursued this unique type of gameplay with their newest Strategy RPG. Pulling in elements from Valkyria Chronicles as well as more unique gameplay elements, here is my official review of the Strategy RPG, Lost Dimension!
The plot takes place in the near-future. A giant pillar has appeared in the world, and a villain known as The End has threatened to destroy the planet with this pillar. In response to this immediate threat, the government sends a secret service squad, known as S.E.A.L.E.D, no doubt a parody of SHIELD from the Marvel Universe, towards the tower to be able to put a stop to The End’s plans and save the world.
Upon reaching the tower, however, the super-human squad finds themselves at the mercy of The End, traveling up the pillar with restrictions in place. In order to pass by a single floor, they must sacrifice one of their own, whom they believe is going to betray the rest of the group. Using the main character’s skill of Vision, they must figure out who the traitors are to eliminate them and reach the top of the tower before The End destroys the world.
The story of Lost Dimension is one that continues even as you’re going through missions and will be something that requires you to lean and get to know each character so you can watch for who is or isn’t a traitor. The Judgment sections also have a distinct Danganronpa feel with being forced to sacrifice one of your own and being at the mercy of The End, all the way through the game’s final floor.
Lost Dimension is a Strategy RPG with some Action elements thrown into the mix. You’ll be set in arenas with opponents and have the ability to have limited free-roam during your turn so you can set up attacks, similar to how the Hyperdimension Neptunia or Valkyria Chronicles gameplay engines work. All in all, though, at its core, it is a Strategy RPG.
During the game, you will go on Quests to be able to progress through the story and will also always come back to your base of operations at the first floor of the pillar. There are many areas to go into here: Gate, Generator, Talk, Setup, and Vision. Gate is where you can go on Quests, Generator and Setup allow you to buy/sell equipment as well as equipping and enhancing the skills of your characters.
Talk and Vision are the two most associated with your characters. Talk allows you to speak with and become closer to each of the other characters. Finally, Vision allows you to use Sho’s skill of Premonition to attempt to find out which of your characters trust you and which are likely to betray the group as you go further up the tower.
That brings up the most unique feature of this game: Traitors. Every time you reach a new floor, the game will choose one of your remaining characters at random to be the next traitor. Your goal is to figure out who this is and manipulate other characters’ judgment against that character. You do this during dialogue sequences after missions where you can sway characters towards certain characters to manipulate their votes.
There is a catch to this. At first, you may think you want to just manipulate everyone into killing off everyone that isn’t in your main party. This will be fine, until you reach the final boss. If you do not kill the traitors at this point, the game will reveal them to you and will punish you, making the final boss fights considerably harder. It’s safer not to play favorites and try your best to accurately pinpoint each traitor beforehand.
Combat will proceed similar to Valkyria Chronicles. On your turn, you will have a certain amount of area you can freely roam around to move across the field or to set up an attack. When you do attack, you will have certain attack ranges, so it’s the best idea to try to set up attacks as efficiently as possible. Some attacks can hit multiple enemies, and you do a lot more damage if you hit an enemy from behind.
The two most crucial effects you’ll want to take advantage of are Deferring and Assist Attacks. If you have used up all of your movement for a turn and an ally that’s already moved is near you, you can use the Defer command to grant them an extra turn. Also, if an ally is near an enemy you attack, they can perform an Assist Attack to pile more damage on the enemy after your attack is finished. The enemy can do this as well, however, so it’s best to watch the positioning of every unit, friend or foe.
Another thing to make note of is the Sanity (SAN) stat. Using your Gifts/Skills is taxing on the human brain. If you use it too much, you’ll go insane and enter Berserk status, attacking anyone, be it an enemy or an ally. To prevent this, use skills only when necessary or use items to replenish your SAN stat before it gets too low.
The customization comes after missions are over. When you finish a Quest, you will be granted items, Experience, and Money based on how well you did. Every character receives Experience, whether they took part in the battle and whether they stayed conscious or not. When they level up, they’ll gain Gift Points, which are used to level up and learn new skills via Skill Trees. Another thing to note is that when a character is killed off, you can equip their skills onto other characters to keep advancing their skills.
The difficulty of the game is there. While you can switch back and forth between Easy and Normal anytime you’re at your base, the game will test you at some point. If you stay on Easy, you can get through the majority of the game without having to stop and grind too much, but you’ll need to make sure you stay updated with the shop’s equipment or you’ll easily get overwhelmed in the later floors. If you don’t catch all the Traitors, you’ll be in for a world of Hurt, no matter what difficulty you’re on, though. It’s not as hardcore as some other SRPGs, but it’s not easy, either.
Overall, Lost Dimension is one of the shortest SRPGs you’ll be playing. The game has 5 floors, and 30 quests span those floors. With an average of 12-15 minutes per quest (sometimes more, sometimes less), the entire game could take you as little as 9-10 hours to complete the game, accounting for story scenes and a bit of grinding if you chuck through on the Easy Difficulty. If you go through on Normal, expect it to be around 12-15 hours, depending. All in all, though, it’s not a very long SRPG.
Moving around the menus and the field is pretty easy to do. The touch screen isn’t really ever used, so there’s no need to worry about touch or tilt controls. The game is also fully compatible with the PlayStation TV, but the button scheme is not different between the two systems.
Moving around on your turn is done with the Left Analog Stick and the camera is moved with the Right Analog Stick. The L and R triggers are used to switch between characters to go through their turns, and the rest is done with the Face Buttons. X is used to pull up the command menu and Triangle can pull up the Quest Menu. Square can move the target area for skills, and Circle can be used to re-center the camera behind your character.
The visual presentation of the game looks great. The character models have a ton of detail in them and there aren’t very many jagged edges to be found at all. If there’s one thing this game accomplished it was a superb visual presentation.
Unfortunately, the rest of the presentation pulls the game back. First of all are the frame drops. When you’re going through the game, expect there to be a lot of frame drops and a lot of situations where there is lag. Even the base menu has a lot of slowdown when you’re going between each option. The Menu lag is substantially worse than the occasional lag within combat.
There are also freezing and crashing issues. On my second day of using the game, the game crashed as soon as I tried to launch it. The biggest problem is that it proceeded to crash with the same problem over and over and over for the next 20 minutes or so. It finally worked, but it took a lot just to get it to keep from crashing the moment I tried to boot it up.