Super villains don’t seem to put much effort into coming up with snazzy names anymore. Back when I was a wee lad we had badass evildoers such as Darth Vader and Doctor Doom. Compare those examples with the end boss of Lost Dimension who answers to the name… The End. Okay… I guess he is a fan of The Doors? Anyways, uninspired monikers aside, The End is a bad dude who aspires to blow up the world, with an arsenal of nukes, for nefarious reasons I’d rather not spoil. Given that most people aren’t fond of having radioactive backyards, the world’s governments have dispatched an elite team of eleven psychics to infiltrate The End’s lair and stop him from pressing the big red doomsday button.
Lost Dimension is a tactical RPG published in the UK by NIS America (um, shouldn’t that be NIS Europe?) Gameplay wise it reminds me a lot of Valkyria Chronicles, although Lost Dimension is purely a turn based affair (so you needn’t worry about weaving in and out of cover, as enemy units will only fire at you during their allotted turns.) In order to save the world players will need to ascend The End’s tower, which is guarded by a legion of unfriendly automatons. Only six of the eleven agents at your disposal can participate in any given sortie so choose wisely. Each friendly character specializes either in ranged or melee combat in addition to possessing a special power. Himeno for example can toast enemies with pyro kinesis, Agito can teleport and Yoko is able to buff allies through telepathy.
Taking inspiration from reality TV shows, like Big Brother, in order to advance the story there will be times when you will be expected to vote off one of your party members. The unfortunate sod that loses the popularity poll is promptly executed via laser beam, leaving behind no remains – aside from a materia cube containing any skills they may have mastered. Permanently losing a character may suck, but it’s not all bad as the materia they drop can be equipped by one of the remaining survivors. Doing so grants the character access to their fallen comrade’s abilities. I hope Simon Cowell doesn’t get wind of this mechanic. If he does he may decide to boost America’s Got Talent ratings by killing off losing contestants.
My plan, whilst playing through Lost Dimension, was to knock off all the male characters. This would leave me with a harem of beauties to command, but alas it was not meant to be. At the start of every chapter the game randomly turns one of your characters into a traitor. The idea is to identify the double crosser and eliminate them during the mandatory executions. Should you goof and kill off an innocent you’ll be at a disadvantage later on, as the betrayer will turn on you during the game’s final showdown. Determining who the Judas in your midst is falls on protagonist Sho Kasugai. Upon completing a mission, his sixth sense will warn you if the battle’s participants contained any potential turncoats. My, what a perceptive fellow Sho is… remind me never to challenge him to a game of Poker.
I am very pleased with my purchase of Lost Dimension and can highly recommend the game to fellow Vita owners – particularly to anyone who likes the Valkyria Chronicles series. The tactical combat is a lot of fun, as is levelling up your party. Every character feels distinct, thanks to their unique range of powers, and they can all be customized by investing gift points into their MMO style skill trees. The game would however benefit from a bit more polish, as I frequently encountered error messages when booting it up. On the plus side I didn’t suffer a single crash during my inaugural play through. That’s a relief as it’s not “cool” when games “freeze” – no pun intended.
On average Lost Dimension can be completed in a mere twelve hours, but I still think it is worth the full retail asking price. Unlocking the true ending requires at least two runs (via new game plus) and given that the traitors are randomly generated each play through feels like a fresh new experience. Weeding out the defectors in your group, via trial and error, is a neat mechanic that forces players to constantly rotate their roster. It also made the story a more dramatic experience. Would I cackle with glee at slaying that douchebag Zenji or cry into my body pillow upon realizing that my waifu Mana was a sleeper agent? Thank goodness that I didn’t have to make these life or death choices in Persona 4. Killing off the likes of Chie or Teddy would make me feel beary sad indeed.
FINAL SCORE: 4.5 STARS