The process of creating a brand new story often starts out with a single idea.
It’s around that core that everything else is built.
The characters, locations, music and everything else in between are just parts to a cradle that houses that one ultimate premise.
If that one idea is weak, it shatters under the weight of its outer layers before it can truly be called “complete”.
If the housing cradle is weak, it begins falling apart quickly, piece by piece until only the core remains hidden within the rubble.
Lost Dimension is a case study for the latter scenario.
The premise of Lost Dimension is undeniably strong.
You are a member in an elite group tasked with the duty of taking down a terrorist who calls himself, “The End”.
Each member is gifted with different special abilities, like pyrokinesis, magnetism, teleportation and more, but there are traitors among the squad that must be weeded out as they climb the tower to their ultimate confrontation with “The End”.
Worse yet, before gaining entry to a new floor, the group is forced to vote to erase one of their own before being allowed to proceed.
Thus begins the cycle of deception and uncertainty, as your greatest ally might actually be your worst enemy.
It’s a compelling setting, and I was immediately intrigued in the method I would need to use in order to weed out the traitors.
There’s a strong-handed autosave functionality tied to the game’s mechanics that won’t allow the player to reload and try again when making choices, which was excellent, giving much needed meaning and finality to the player’s actions.
Unfortunately, the only way of figuring out the identity of the turncoat was a simple process of elimination, and a rather repetitive mini-game.
Given that the process of weeding out the traitor is such a boring and repetitive procedure, it made what ought to be the most impactful and interesting aspect of the game into a chore.
Getting to know the characters in between missions to learn of their motivations and personalities also felt half baked, as the conversations felt dull and uninteresting.
Learning more about each member of the squad, getting attached to them more than the basis of how they fared in combat would have made erasing one teammate after another feel devastating, but in the end I felt nothing for these poorly conceived characters.
From a gameplay standpoint, Lost Dimension uses a turned based SRPG combat engine.
The allies and enemy teams have their set turns, and each character has a radius of movement available to them along with a series of regular and special attacks that affect a wide range of areas.
There are automatic counter-attacks, and positioning plays an important part in the overall success of the mission.
Not to say that it’s all standard, as there’s a “Defer” command that allows a character to pass over their turn to another, and it’s actually possible for one character to take all the actions of the whole team if it suits the player.
On top of the typical HP/MP meter we’re all familiar with, there’s also a “Sanity” meter, which is expanded when taking most actions and when it drops to zero, the character goes berserk, attacking friend and foe alike.
There are enough mechanics in the works in the battle arena to make it enjoyable, but the enemy designs were quite limited, and the overall challenge that the game provided felt lacking to say the least, as I never failed a single mission the whole game.
Lastly, playing through the digital copy of the game, I encountered four hard crashes during various transitional scenes that required me to hard reset the PS3.
Once or twice I could throw to the board of “it happens” but four felt significant enough that I felt obligated to mention it and score accordingly.
Lost Dimension began with a great premise.
It promised an experience quite unlike anything I have played before but in the end, the surrounding pieces around the core began falling apart one after another until all I was left with was that idea itself, buried deep within the rubble of potential.
Fun Tidbit – There’s something rudimentary akin to social links which need to be completed in full in order to access the true ending but it’s not possible to achieve until new game+.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.