Lost in Random Review
Lost in Random is an indie deck-building action-adventure game from EA Originals, a publishing arm of Electronic Arts dedicated to featuring promising AA titles. Lost in Random is a curious title as it is difficult to encapsulate the game at first glance. Is it an adventure game? A platformer? A narrative puzzler? It’s actually all that and more.
You follow the story of Even, a runaway from the town of Onecroft, an impoverished junkyard where the dregs of society live. Even’s sister, Odd, has been taken by the Queen on her eleventh birthday after she rolled a six, which grants her a life of luxury by the Queen’s side at Sixtopia.
Even, believing that there’s something a lot more sinister at work, ventures off to find her sister and eventually finds herself in the Valley of Dice. She then meets a sentient die, Dicey, who allows her access to different towns of Random locked away by the Queen, who rules with an iron fist.
Will Lost in Random be just another good-looking AA game lacking in execution or is it a must-play hidden gem? To find out, let’s all get lost… in Random.
A Slow Start
While the Burton-esque creepy cute motif may inspire curiosity with its many fans, just like Little Nightmares 2, it may not be for everybody. The first thing we will encounter is the strange and twisted world we’re thrown into, which we’ll be acquainted with quite well for the first couple of hours. Lost in Random takes its time, and while that may deter some people, it gets better.
One thing that balances the creepy motifs is the tongue-in-cheek humor that Lost in Random incorporates throughout the game. It works for the most part, but there are times that the game takes it too far, often enough that it stands out and takes you out of the world. Lost in Random really shines when it dives into its more existential themes of dread and desolation rather than trying to make light of the situation.
One good surprise that reveals itself by around the second hour of the game is its combat. While it’s teased a little bit during the prologue, you don’t really get a hands-on tutorial until you’ve traveled to a different part of the world. Once you are equipped with your own set of dice and are thrown into actual combat, that’s when Lost in Random finally comes alive and shows its true magic.
Choose a Card
The game is partly a deck builder that utilizes the power of the cards and dice to ramp up the combat. The cards divide themselves into different attributes – Weapons allow Even to use an arsenal against the Queen’s robotic minions, Defense allows you to heal and use defensive tactics, and Attack allows you to use direct damage magic.
There are also other types that affect combat in a bigger way, such as Hazard, which enchants the battlefield with effects that could be both beneficial or detrimental to you or the enemy. There’s also some sort of wildcard called Cheat, that allows you to set up your deck to give you an advantage of the cards you want such as adding more tokens or drawing cards.
Just like any popular deck-building format like GWENT, you get to use your card library to build a 15-card deck to compliment your combat style. Styles can get varied due to the variety of cards that are present – you can set up a defensive close combat style warrior or even a long-range sniper that keeps enemies at a distance.
You activate these cards by shooting off crystals from your enemies, and when you have a hand of five cards, you can then toss the dice which generates tokens to spend on your cards.
All of this may feel overwhelming at first due to the number of mechanics you have to think of but it follows a standard gameplay loop that feels natural once you get a good grasp, and Lost In Random gives you a whole chapter to actually figure it out.
The combat of Lost in Random is something that’s definitely fresh, allowing you to play the way you want to, using the tools at your disposal. As you improve your deck, you can also earn pins to “save” drawn cards for a later turn, adding another layer of strategy to the overall mechanic. This sandbox is so enjoyable that I actually prefer the combat to the story and exploration of the world.
Despite not being a triple-A title, you can’t deny how polished the battle system is. While there are hiccups like fixed camera angles and big enemies blocking your line of sight, combat is easily the best thing about Lost in Random.
A Balanced Experience
Lost in Random is a good 12-15 hours of game time including story, exploration, and engaging in side quests. Each town visited is unique in its own way with its own geography, culture, side quests, and collectibles.
Lost in Random collectibles really just boils down to dice chips to purchase cards, and storybook pages to provide some back story; there’s really not a lot to collect if that’s your thing.
The card collectibles in Lost in Random are not overwhelming and give you enough time to engage in some of the side quests to explore more about the idiosyncrasies of each area. You do have to excuse some of the forced humor at play, but when the story gets dark, it actually gets real and sometimes a tinge terrifying.
Overall, it’s a balanced experience that really focuses on its main story to drive the point across. It may not be my visual preference, but I did enjoy its darker themes when they do come into play as well as its fresh gameplay. It respects your time leaving me satisfied as the credits rolled, and for its price point, it’s a well-deserved ride.
What We Liked:
- A fresh combat experience of combining deck building mechanics with fast paced action.
- Explore unique cities with its own side quests, collectibles, and story arcs.
- Balanced game length that gives you enough for your time.
What We Didn’t Like:
- The prologue is a tad too long.
- The tongue-in-cheek dialogue forces humor to the point of annoying.
- Some camera angles could’ve been better tweaked.
Verdict: Buy It!
Given a chance, Lost in Random is one of the delightful surprises this year, providing a fresh take on an action-adventure combat system by combining it with a deck-building mechanic. It fits with the thematic arc of the story while adding a decent collectible mechanic in the game that efficiently streamlines its main gameplay loop. This results in a tight 12-hour adventure that gives you enough story, gameplay, and extras for a complete experience that respects your time and money.
The story may not be for everybody, but it is serviceable and relatable enough to follow. You do need to play through quite a dragging prologue and at times put up with some of the tongue-in-cheek humor that borders on annoying. There are also moments of heartfelt family drama and at times really creepy set pieces that enhance the main plot even further.
I enjoyed my time with Lost in Random and it’s up there with some surprise standouts for the year, well worth the time and price investment, and definitely something to look into when getting into the spooky season of Halloween.
*Lost in Random was reviewed on a PS5 with a review code provided by the publisher.