Playing with randomness in a linear narrative, Lost in Random is the next game from developer Zoink in partnership with Electronic Arts.
In a preview event, I had the opportunity to play the beginning of the game and also to follow a presentation by the head of development Klaus Lyngeled, and the creative director and chief screenwriter Olov Redmalm, who gave details of what we can expect from the diverse world of Random and its inhabitants.
In Lost in Random, we assume the role of even, a little girl who ventures through Random’s realm looking for her older sister, who was taken against her will after rolling the Queen’s die.
The Queen is the only one who has a six-sided die and uses it to determine the future of all her subjects. Each of the six regions (whose names are puns with the numbers in English) of the realm of Random has its own characteristics and we get to know a little of them when talking to the characters.
Our adventure starts in Onecroft, When Odd turns 12 and is forced to roll the dice that will determine her future. The child rolls a six, as many as possible, and is taken to spend the rest of his life in Sixtopia, alongside the Queen. While it sounds good, her younger sister, Even, has the feeling this isn’t the whole truth.
Through dreams, Odd seems to communicate with his younger sister. Even’s dreams are playable and have a slightly spooky atmosphere, with mysterious, whispered voices and a slightly distorted visual to make up the ambiance.
Even is not alone in her journey: she soon meets dicey, a fluffy and self-conscious dice that is also full of mysteries, after all, it shouldn’t even exist.
In addition to becoming a traveling companion, Dicey is essential in combat. He is able to collect crystals and use abilities to defeat enemies, but is limited by the result of his own roll — a dice roll, just like in a tabletop RPG or other board game.
According to the developers, the idea of Lost in Random it is precisely to bring this feeling of being in the middle of a board game, having to deal with unforeseen events caused by the randomness of the dice.
Randomness, which is one of the main themes of the game, is also one of the main mechanics of combat.
Even starts the battles armed only with his slingshot, which is not very effective against enemies. Using these ranged attacks, the character needs to destroy the crystals to “reload” Dicey and use the cards with special abilities.
When enough crystals gather, the small die can be thrown. The number rolled determines the amount of energy the pair can use to cast spells or even to equip weapons such as a sword, bow and arrow and even a huge mace that deals a large amount of damage to opponents.
It sounds like work, and it is, but it’s not tiring or overly complicated. The variety of powers available to the pair also changes with each roll, as cards are replaced at the end of each “attack round”, so it’s important to be ready to improvise.
Cards are separated into categories such as offense, defense and traps, among others. There is synergy between them and it’s possible to assemble some combos, but in a much simpler way than in cardgames like magic and heartstone, for example.
Battles are fun and require some concentration — at least in the early worlds, I had to think a lot about the strategies of each fight, and when I didn’t, I found myself trapped in clashes that turned out to be much longer than necessary.
Those who want to explore the world of Random without worrying about battles can activate the story mode at any time and skip the fights.
Combat is nuanced and requires creativity. Also, I felt a good level of challenge, and even when I died repeatedly to a big boss, I didn’t feel frustrated to the point of getting mad. Was pretty cool!
Is this Halloween?
Describing the title as a “dark fairy tale”, the developers cited the original Grimm Brothers tales, Studio Ghibli’s Hayao Miyazaki films, and God of War as inspirations for the plot and setting. “It’s like a scarier Harry Potter movie,” says screenwriter Olov Redmalm.
Among the references, the most glaring is Jac’s Weird Worldk for uniting a fantastical world with bizarre and horror elements. The look and feel of the game also refer to the City of Halloween and the general mood of the film.
Without resorting to graphic violence or scares with monsters appearing out of nowhere, Lost in Random has a strong ally when building its atmosphere: the soundtrack. Who signs the game’s songs is Blake Robinson, who also worked on The Stanley Parable, and the work he has done sounds nostalgic and current.
Perhaps because I’m a big fan of Tim Burton’s film, this particular aspect captivated me and made me really give in to the experience, embracing the world proposed by Zoink quickly.
Taking into account that I played the first two regions of the game, the introduction of Lost in Random does a good job of presenting its universe and its mysteries while delivering challenging combats. With an intriguing plot, we can only wait for the release to know if the rhythm continues until the end of the experience.