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Game Info:

Lost Dimension
Developed by: Lancarse/FURYU Corporation
Published by: Atlus (PS platforms), Ghostlight (Windows)
Release Date: July 2015 (PS), October 30, 2017 (Windows)
Available on: Windows, PS3, Vita
Genre: Tactical RPG
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for language, mild blood, suggestive themes, violence
Price: $39.99

Thank you Atlus and Ghostlight for sending us this game to review on PS Vita and Windows!

An evil villain aptly named "The End" is threatening to nuke the planet in thirteen days unless the uniquely gifted SEALED team can stop him in time. Each member of the team has a special ability that can make them a force to be reckoned with in battle. Some members can wield elements like fire, ice, and lightning while others can teleport, mimic, heal, or use deadly magnetic energy. It's great to have such powerful people on your team. The catch is that several of them are traitors who will eventually turn against you. Can you identify and eliminate them in time?

The SEALED team has been trapped in a mysterious tower with no memory of how they got there. Their common goal is to reach the top and take out The End. In order to ascend the tower, a member of their team has to be erased (an in-game term for killed). Sadly, there is no other way. On the bright side, their abilities are not lost and can be given to another person in the group. This process of gaining skills and passing them along to other teammates on erasure is not only interesting, but plays a large part in the strategy of building characters up for battle.

Like many turn-based tactical RPGs, the characters have a skill tree and inventory slots to augment their abilities and boost attributes such as health, movement, vitality, and so on. Instead of mana and magic, each character can use their gift if they have enough gift points and sanity to spare. A character temporarily loses some of their sanity when they are hit, use a gift, or defer their turn to another team member. If a character's sanity is depleted, they will go berserk and strike friends and foes with tremendous power. This condition will last a couple of turns, but the remaining teammates will be put into a fear state that negatively affects their stats.

Lost Dimension
Highlights:

Strong Points: Good character development and interesting concept
Weak Points: Partial voice acting; game crashes; difficulty spikes
Moral Warnings: Violence; language and blaspheming; some suggestive dialog; skimpy outfits

Teamwork is crucial for survival, even if there may be a randomly picked traitor close by. When allies and enemies are near each other when making a turn-based attack, the nearby ally (or enemy) will get to attack as well. Attacks from behind are more powerful. Some area attacks can harm allies as well so this must be taken into consideration when performing these skills. As the levels increase in difficulty the enemies get more hit points and deadlier foes are introduced in battle. If you find yourself getting your butt kicked in a mission, you can replay cleared ones to power up and earn more money to buy equipment upgrades.

Another reason to replay missions is to determine if a traitor is in your group. After a successful battle, the character you play, Sho, has the ability to hear the thoughts of his teammates. If thoughts appear in red, then someone in the group may be a traitor. Sometimes there will be multiple potential traitors and you have to replay battles with a slightly different configuration to weed out the turncoat. When you return to base a teammate or two will approach you to see if you know who the traitor may be. If it is the traitor themselves asking, you may want to say you don't know or reveal the identity of another traitor instead. The team relies on your feedback as well as how much time they spend together when casting votes to kill off a traitor to ascend the tower. Allies that contribute the most in battle get two votes in the process. Once you know who the traitor is for that floor it’s best to leave them out of battle enough to get the other teammates to vote against them.

I did experience a few game crashes in the Vita version while I was at the base talking to my comrades. It wasn't a particular conversation that triggered it; it happened randomly. I had a few crashes on the PC version as well. Fortunately, saving the game can be done at any time outside of battles, though there is a forced save before entering the room of judgment to eliminate a teammate. As a result, I never lost much progress.

Keeping track of battle configurations and potential traitors can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there is a vision management area that shows you the battle/traitor results and the estimated judgment vote outcome. In this area, you also have the ability to flag and mark potential turn coats for your own record keeping.

Lost Dimension
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 74%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 3/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 40%
Violence - 3.5/10
Language - 1.5/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - -7.5/10

Once you discover the identities of the traitors, you can focus more on building stronger bonds with your true allies. As you converse with and establish friendships with your teammates, character specific missions may become available. You may also find out weird facts like the color of a teammate's underwear and that one of them is a virgin. Another character said she wouldn’t “mind you using [her] body and heart as you wish.”

The levels and enemies offer a fair amount of variety and the difficulty significantly ramps up about half way through the game. Each level is ranked between one and eight stars. At the end of the battle a letter grade is assigned depending on the number of turns taken and the battle performance of the team. I tried to have all of the levels ranked at S or A. That became harder to do around the five star mark where I was happy to scrape by with a D. Thankfully, you can go back and replay old levels at any time, with the exception of the character stories. I was able to go back and get S-rank on every level except one, where I had an A. It should be noted that unused teammates will still earn experience (though a bit less) even when they are not deployed on the battlefield.

The levels will not blow you away aesthetically, but they do change things up a bit. Some of the gift moves provide some eye candy though. The character's facial expressions change and convey a lot of emotion in their dialogue boxes.

Unfortunately, only key story sequences are fully voice acted. In these instances, the voice acting is extremely well done. However it is overshadowed by the generic phrases used throughout the majority of the game. Some the phrases used are laced with profanity (d*mn, sh*t, b*stard) and taking our Lord's name in vain. I also really liked the intro song.

The Windows PC version has slightly improved textures, and greatly improved resolution and frame rate. It’s a pretty good port overall, and runs pretty well, with some caveats. The first one is that vsync was off out of the box, which leads to visible tearing. With no way to change that, I was forced to use the NVIDIA/AMD control panel to force vsync on outside of the game. Another issue was that the game seems to stutter right when entering a level and controlling your character the first time, but it gets better after that. I’m guessing that textures are loaded on demand, which is very efficient, but can lead to the observed stutters on first use. Overall I really enjoyed the PC version, and played it to completion on my first playthrough.

There is new game+ available, and in order to see the true ending, you need to play through at least twice (possibly more, depending on your luck). The reason is that the true ending is locked behind maxing out your relationships with all characters, which isn’t possible in one playthrough because of the traitor mechanic. If you are lucky, you can do it in two. Thankfully, each playthrough is fairly quick, at around twenty hours.

There's much to like about Lost Dimension; the battle system is fun and the turncoat aspect adds a nice twist as well. The characters are interesting and I was sad to see some of them go. I found the combination of characters, combat, and building out your skill trees, and of course rooting out the traitors quite engaging, and it was hard to put down. Even with some of the rough edges, I really enjoyed my time in this twisted tower.