“There is a traitor among us…”
In a dystopian future, you are sent into a life or death struggle with The End, a seemingly insane maniac with the power to destroy the world on his own. There are ten others with you and one of him, each of you has a special “gift” that can be used to help you fight the man and his strange machinations. If only it were that simple, there is a traitor among you… one of you is working for him and if you don’t find out who it is, the entire mission is at stake. This is Lost Dimension, you are Kasugai Sho (Or Sho Kasugai if you prefer a western version of speaking.) and you are the only one who can find out who these traitors are.
Lost Dimension is an emotional thrill ride, a gripping strategy game and a murder mystery all in one. The last one is true as you are trying to figure out whom to murder. I will say that while it isn’t perfect, sometimes the dialogue can be clichéd and a little flat, it is a necessary part of crafting a compelling story with so many avenues. There is a traitor among you and one of the most brilliant things about the game is that the traitor is completely random. Every game has it different, has a different set of people working against you and for The End. Set? Yes there are multiple traitors but I will spoil no more details on that front. It can be heart-breaking, especially when you find that all the characters have their own personalities and some will draw you in more than others. The moment you discover the traitor is one of your favourites, you are struck with a dilemma of whether to takes the right action or to let them stay in your group. Finding out the traitor is difficult as you are the only character with the gift of precognition and thus, can see into each person’s intentions. It struck a chord in me as I enjoy getting lost in character which this game provided me with ample time and inclination to do so.
The gameplay is split between visual novel style panels with voice acting for storytelling and character progression, with regards to improving trust and friendship; a strategy style combat reminiscent of Valkyria Chronicles and the brief but essential diving mini game when you choose to have a deep vision of a suspected traitor (I will, for desire to keep spoilers limited, not say much more about this but they cost a form of energy that is limited, so you can’t do it to all 11 people continuously). The visual novel (VN for short hereafter.) style works well as you have the moving breathing character models that I enjoy and each person has their own quirks and facial expression, although more limited than some VN’s out there it is still enough to give a sense of immersion. The voice acting is fun, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and their manner of speaking, it was clear that the people behind the scenes put a lot of effort in and it shows. The only complaint I had was that I wanted it to be longer. It is not a short game but at around 20 hours for a single playthrough, I was left wanting more. There is incentive to experiment and begin the New Game Plus as there will always be a final ending that is impossible to get on first playthrough but I definitely wish there was a longer initial game but that isn’t a complete criticism as it was short but very sweet and after playing through a couple more times, they may have found a balance where it feels as just enough.
The combat was spectacular. I found that it required tactics, understanding of your various characters and some willingness to go all out (especially against the tougher enemies that will kill you in a couple of hits.) You have your main missions and side mission, all of which are re-playable, which is a plus and a minus, and you can order the teams any which way you want except you always have to be present. At the end of combat, you eventually start to hear voices, these are pivotal to finding out who the traitor is and I had great fun wondering if my team had the rogue element I was hunting among its members. As each level is re-playable an infinite amount of times, it is easier to level your characters and narrow down your suspects. Which is good and bad as it makes the game more interesting and gives you time to make your decisions but you have an infinite amount of tries and if you are careful with your VP (The energy required for the deep visions) you can almost always find those working against you and that takes away from the tension of the game. In my first playthrough, I thought I had run out of mission to play and I had no idea who was the traitor so I panicked and tried my best to reason it out and then I found I could replay a mission and it made my time easier. It is still incredibly tense but it would be more so if there were a restriction in place on the amount of missions you can undertake.