Lost Dimension is a tactical role-playing game incorporating visual novel elements, developed by Lancarse and originally released in August 2014 in Japan. The title launched in the UK yesterday for PS3 and Vita digitally and physically. The title is brought to us by NIS America but is essentially the same version as localised and published by Atlus in the US. This is slightly unfortunate, as Atlus has a habit of removing the Japanese voice track from their localised releases.
The game focuses on an organisation called S.E.A.L.E.D. that are tasked with stopping a mysterious terrorist known only as “The End” from destroying the world. The story is communicated to the player via short anime cutscenes and visual novel-style cutscenes interspersed throughout the game. These are fully voiced, but unfortunately, most character discussion is only partially voiced, being accompanied by vocalised noise or short phrases at best. Aspects of the game are accessed from the menu screen and fall under 5 categories for most of the game, with a sixth appearing at the end of each floor of the tower you are required to make your way through.
Gate area in which you select a mission, of which there are story progressing and side missions, to head out on. You select the characters you want to head out with; at first, you will do this almost randomly, but after unlocking Vision you’ll have to pick who to utilise each time carefully in order to determine who to pass judgement on. Battling is turn-based; each of your 6 characters is able to attack, use an item, wait, defer, or use their gift before the next character is selected. Attack uses the item equipped to a character for a basic attack on the number of enemies a weapon is capable of hitting. Using an item allows using a consumable on a character within range. Waiting moves onto the next character, deferring allows you to pass your turn over to another that has already acted in exchange for sanity. Using a Gift, the special abilities each character have allows for stat boosts, stat reductions or powerful attacks, all using sanity. When sanity is depleted, a character goes ‘berserk’, randomly attacking with powerful attacks. Characters can team up for assists if they are within range of a teammate when they attack. Despite the possibilities presented by the battle system, it is easy to use, and even when replaying missions, it’s fun being able to use different tactics. Everyone gets EXP at end of battles; those that participated in the battle gain more than the others.
The Talk section allows you to converse with the characters, to boost camaraderie, discuss the goings-on of the game, and just get to know your teammates. Generator is where you go to spend energy, earnt through battling and dissolving unnecessary items, in order to make weapons, gadgets, apps and consumable items. This system is effectual, and you get a decent return on weapons when dissolving them as they become unnecessary. Setup is where you can use Gift Exp, which is earnt every odd level the characters reach in order to improve their gift by improving moves, or adding whole new moves to their moveset. Equipping of apps, gadgets and weapons are also carried out in this section.
Judgement and Vision are the highlights of this game. Judgement is only available after completing all of the story missions for a floor and requires you and the other character’s to vote for who you think is the traitor. This changes on each floor, and even each time you play the game. You get hints as to who is the traitor, and with the Vision section of the game, you can glean insight into state of characters and how Judgement will turn out. At the end of each battle, you will be asked opinions as to the traitor by other characters and can use this to influence the result towards the truth as you uncover it. In Vision, you can view the trust of characters relative to each other, look at battle rankings for them, and look at a forecast of the vote for Judgement if it were to happen at that moment. The vision history shows you the results of each mission you have completed on the floor; showing the characters that were present and how many potentially traitorous voices were heard. By changing who you take out with you, and comparing voices heard, you can narrow down traitor possibilities. One down to a very small pool, you can use ‘Deep Vision’ to explore characters’ minds to find the suspect and ensure you then convince others of this. Vision Points are rare, so you need a good idea of the suspect before using Deep Vision. These systems make Lost Dimension much better than a standard tactical RPG.
Unfortunately, the title is dub-only, which is a shame as the game would have been even more enjoyable than it already is with a Japanese voice track available. That isn’t to say the dub is entirely bad, it just has some annoyances; primarily the characterisation of one of the characters. Mana Kawai is this character; she speaks with a fake English accent, as admitted by herself in-game. This alone is not the issue; it is her usage of colloquialisms such as ‘bird’ in reference to girls and appending ‘mate; to the end of sentences. As someone from England that does not engage in the use of these colloquialisms, I am rather offended by the stereotyping of English people. I found this to be insulting enough to the point of actively ignoring this character’s on-screen text and turning the volume down so as not to be forced to listen to her. This is not the fault of NIS America though, but Atlus, the US publisher.
Overall, despite annoyances, the title is thoroughly enjoyable, both when it comes to completing missions, and when working out who the traitor is in order to eliminate them. The Judgement system really helps to make this a good Vita game, but the title could be improved by incorporating more of the visual novel elements and including the Japanese language track.
This title has fast become a favourite of mine on the Vita, and despite the dub-only nature of the release it is definitely worth picking up if you have a Vita. The battle mechanics are enjoyable and intuitive, yet not too simplistic. The systems in place to determine the traitor certainly take some getting used to, but improve the game for the better. Though, if a character you're fond of, and is not the traitor, is voted out, you may grow to resent the remaining characters for their decision The English dub leaves a lot to be desired but, while annoying, it doesn't detract too much from the game overall.