Review: Lost Dimension (PS3/PSV)

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Platforms:

  • PlayStation 3
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy No
  • Cross-Save No
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Lost Dimension
Format: Blu-ray Disc / Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (PS3 1 GB) (PSV 985 MB)
Release Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Lancarse
Original MSRP: $39.99 (PS3) / $39.99 (PSV)
ESRB Rating: T
Lost Dimension is exclusive to PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita download versions were used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Lost Dimension tells a story of a mysterious spire that appears, destroying an entire city, and a mysterious terrorist entity called The End. The End has launched some of the most powerful nuclear missiles at every major city in the world and he has given the world thirteen days to stop him in his quest to bring about the apocalypse. You play as Sho Kasugai, a member of an elite team called SEALED whose mission is to stop The End and save the world.

Gameplay:
As far as gameplay goes, Lost Dimension is a straightforward turn-based tactical RPG. It’s not so much of a strategy RPG as it appeared in the screenshots and footage I saw prior to getting the review copy. In addition to the tactical elements, the game also has a mystery component.

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As the first five members of the SEALED team enter the spire, they quickly run into the remaining six members. Each of you has had your memories completely wiped, and as you progress through the levels of the tower, referred to as stratum, you regain a bit of your memories. Unfortunately for the members of SEALED, there are quite a few traitors embedded within the team and this is where the mystery component comes in. In addition to fighting the battles, you must also deduce who is the traitor before you can progress to the next stratum.

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The game is broken up between various missions and each stratum of the spire has its own theme to it. The stratums consist of varying number of main quest missions and sub-quest missions, and between each you are in a lobby area which is portrayed as a static screen with menu options.

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Within the lobby you can speak with your teammates, shop at the store, level up your characters, read the story lore that you unlock along the way, and choose the next mission. You can repeat the missions however as many times you wish and each time you complete a mission you’re given a score from F to S (with S being the highest score you can achieve).

Each mission has a difficulty ranking denoted by stars from one to eight. Before entering a mission you’re given the ability to view the map, the placing of both your team and the enemy, what enemies are on the level, and details about how much experience and energy (currency) you will receive upon completion. There are also bonus items that you can get as a reward when you complete each level for the first time.

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Once you have made your selections of five members to take with you on the mission, the mission begins. On each mission the player team always goes first and you’re given the ability to switch to any teammate at any time.

Along with the typical RPG stats (i.e., Strength, Vitality, etc.) there is one stat labeled MOV (for movement) which determines the range of each character’s movement. You control each character on your team, one by one, until all players have moved. When you take control of a character, a large circle surrounds you and this circle determines how far you can move on each turn. It’s a little similar to Valkyria Chronicles. At first glance, the constrained movement seems like a hinderance, but the great thing about how Lost Dimension handles this game mechanic is that you can hit the Circle button at any time to start your movement over again.

… each member of SEALED has a special unique power …
The way you can rewind your movement back to the beginning makes it really easy to plan out your next move and do some exploration before committing to a position. There are two specific characters who have large amounts of MOV stats and they’re great to bring along because they can be used to scope out treasure and hidden switches.

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The enemies come in four basic varieties: Tron-looking humanoid creatures, flying robotic drones, large Metal Gear looking mechs, and huge gorilla-like versions of the humanoid creatures. The number of enemies will vary in each level but usually there will only be one or two large mech or gorilla creatures per level.

Break out the Chaff Grenades.

Break out the Chaff Grenades.


The weapons that each of the enemies have are mostly guns but a few also have elemental or melee attacks. As for your teammates, each member of SEALED has a special unique power. Unfortunately, the powers themselves don’t seem to have a huge effect on the different enemy types, with the exception of certain powers that specifically target mechs.

After you’ve chosen to move your character or not, you then have the option to make a single choice from the battle menu. You can attack, use a gift (magic), use an item, defer your turn to a nearby team member, or end your turn. If you end up attacking an enemy and you have other team members within attack range, they will also assist you by taking turns attacking your target. The same goes for enemies, so you need to be careful not to be in range of multiple enemies.

… You must root out the traitor …
Each time you use a gift or get attacked you will consume Sanity. If you lose your sanity you will go berserk and attack anything around you, friend or foe. There are several restorative items in the game which can replenish your health, Gift Points, and Sanity. These items can also cure different ailments that you may acquire.

As mentioned before, each individual team member has their own unique powers, referred to as Gifts. Gifts include powers such as fire and ice, levitation, warping, super strength, psychic powers, healing, gravity, and magnetism to name a few. There are eleven team members to start out (in addition to yourself), and each one has his or her own unique set of skills. Each skill in the skill tree is color coded between three different types and they vary between each member.

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When you’ve unlocked all of the skills for a certain type, you will unlock that team member’s “Fate Materia.” Each Fate Materia has its own special power and may give the player upgraded stats, permanent new abilities, or may affect the performance of the rest of the team.

… they will decide whether to trust you or not …
As mentioned before, in addition to the regular battle elements you also have a mystery component to the game. After you’ve cleared each of the main quest missions on a stratum you will see a new icon near the exit gate of the lobby which is essentially identical in each stratum. The new icon that is displayed is the Judgement room. You see, as you increase the level of the stratum and more memories are recovered, a traitor will awaken on each level. You must root out the traitor by carefully listening to what your teammates have to say.

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After each mission you will mysteriously hear all of the thoughts of your teammates that you took on the mission, five members at a time. When you hit the Cross button to begin the after-battle “Vision” you will see your team members randomly phase in and out across the screen like ghosts. Along with their fleeting images, text will appear across the screen with short voice samples of the person’s thoughts. This section is very challenging, because the traitor’s image and text will show very briefly with different sizes of text. Also, the traitor’s voice will be slightly obscured so you’ll have just a brief time to catch a glimpse of the bad thoughts.

… it’s tough to change the opinions of your teammates …
Once the vision is over, Sho will announce that either there may be a traitor in the group, there definitely is a traitor in the group, or there are no traitors in the group. Immediately after this vision you’re questioned by two random teammates who will ask you to point to a specific person who is the traitor, or they will ask you if a specific person is the traitor at which point you will either pick the person or tell if you agree, disagree, or do not know.

Before you respond to the question by each team member you are able to access the Vision Status screen (more on this later) to help you make a choice. Once you make a choice or give your opinion to the thoughts of the questioner, they will decide whether to trust you or not.

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From here, you will be presented with a screen of your entire team’s standing. During Judgement, each team member is forced to vote for who they think the traitor is. It’s your job to discern who is the true traitor and persuade all your teammates to vote accordingly. Whether or not your teammates trust you depends on many factors, including how much they trust or like the person in question. Also after each battle, you’ll be able to converse with each teammates at different times. The first two you talk with will increase your favorability with the specific person.

So on one hand, it’s tough enough to try to figure out who the traitor really is, and on the other hand, it’s tough to change the opinions of your teammates to get them to choose the right traitor.

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The Vision Status screen mentioned before is accessed in the lobby. From this screen, you can see the opinion of each person from each team member’s perspective. Another screen within this menu will display each person’s battle rankings and this also is a factor in how the team views a person. If the battle rankings are very low, the distrust seems to be high for that person.

The third screen in the Vision menu is the current vote tally. This one displays the standings of the vote tally if you were to go into judgement at that point in time.

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The final, and most useful, screen of the Vision menu is the Vision History screen. This shows who was with you during each mission and how many suspicious voices there were after the mission. From here you can label each character with a red, yellow, or blue label as you work out who is the traitor. You can also use special Deep Vision points, acquired after specific main missions, to determine whether or not the person is a true traitor. However these points don’t come easy, so you must use these sparingly.

The trick to deducing who is the traitor is to try to take different teammates on missions in different combinations. Even if the true traitor is with you on a mission they don’t always let you know. You could take the true traitor on a mission and get only one suspicious voice and the only hint Sho will give you is that there “may be a traitor in this group”. So you must take different suspicious people on missions in different combinations to try to get three suspicious voices. Once you get three suspicious voices Sho will announce, after the vision, that “someone in this group is a traitor.” You will then be able to mark all but the five as safe and continue using the process of elimination from there. If you’re very lucky you will be able to use a Vision Point on the real traitor the first time and be able to bank your Vision Points for later in the game.

Along with the regular and side missions there are special character missions that allow you to become true companions with them. There are no love interests or anything like that, but you’ll only gain more trust and learn more backstory about each person by doing their special missions. I managed to complete one playthrough of the game and start the New Game Plus for the next playthrough. Each time you begin a new play-through, the friends and traitors will be different.

… you can never fully max out your characters …
It’s a little frustrating to try to find the traitor in the Vision segments of the game. The text is lighting fast and you’ll only get a tiny glimpse of the traitor. Also, more than three people can say suspicious things which really can throw you for a loop and confuse you. There were several times a person said some downright evil stuff and it turned out that they weren’t the traitor. Just remember though, that even though they are your friend or weren’t the traitor on one stratum, doesn’t mean they won’t be the traitor on the next stratum.

I found the New Game Plus to be a bit lacking for my tastes. You don’t carry over much of anything to the next playthrough except your highest achieved ranking for each mission, your team member camaraderie completion, and some of the unlocked background content. The money, your skills, your level, stats, and equipment are all wiped out when beginning New Game Plus. You do seem to get a number of Gift Points to spend on unlocking skills from the skill tree but I couldn’t quite tell if the game gives you all your Gift Points back or just a certain number each time. When I started my new game, I only got twenty-four gift points to spend. While it did make it much easier to unlock more Fate Materia from the first playthrough, it seems like you can never fully max out your characters. Perhaps on a second or third playthrough you might get more, but I’m not sure.

Also, I was unfortunately not able to get all of my team members camaraderie completions on the first playthrough or the second one. It seems like there’s a bonus for unlocking all of them and perhaps you can play as different characters when you complete them all or some other type of bonus.

For just a little under two weeks from release, Atlus is giving away four extra mission packs as DLC for free. It doesn’t matter whether or not you purchase the game to get the free DLC so if you’re interested in this game at all make sure you get the DLC before August 10, 2015.

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I did have a chance to play some of the DLC as well as get the free costumes and avatars. The DLC adds quite a bit of content to the game and now that I’ve seen the amount of it I do believe that the game is only worth the full retail price when you include this DLC.

Several of the new maps give lots of extra insight on who The End is and what his motivations are. One new mission in particular does a better job of explaining what the spire is and its purpose. This information seems like it should have been included with the main game so I highly recommend grabbing this DLC as soon as you can.

I do need to note that I experienced many technical problems with the Vita version in particular. While both games are identical, the Vita version is very laggy and slow. It crashed several times and at least once it became inoperable to the point that I had to delete it and reinstall. Luckily, the problem did not corrupt my save file but it was an inconvenience to redownload the nearly one gigabyte and reinstall all of the DLC again, which is a major chore in and of itself because you cannot add all the content to your cart and download it all at once.

… this game is more about story than anything else …
Overall, the game is quite fun, unique, and engaging. This is the first tactical RPG that I could really play and have a good time with. Even though Lost Dimension is nowhere near the level of tactics and strategy as Valkyria Chronicles, it does share one similar game mechanic: unlike Valkyria Chronicles this game allows you go grind any level as many times as you want so you can level up your characters easier. The only risk to level grinding though is that you get questioned after each mission so you have to make sure you find the traitor ASAP, otherwise you risk making it near impossible to change your teammate’s minds if they suspect the wrong person.

While the traitors and friends change between playthroughs, the characters themselves don’t vary much if at all so you end up having to buy the same equipment each time and buff the same stats each time for each character. I’m not sure how many total hours I put into the first playthrough but I would estimate maybe thirty-five hours give or take ten.

Visuals:
The visuals in Lost Dimension are a mix between Anime cutscenes and 3D models for the battle portions. The animations on the anime characters is kind of weird. It’s hard to describe, but the way the camera snaps to each character as they speak and the way the camera follows the faces of the characters is a little strange.

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As far as graphics go, they’re nothing to write home about. The Anime portions are great, but the 3D models are pretty dated. I suppose though that this game is more about story than anything else, so I don’t think there’s any problem with the minimalistic looking graphics.

I did find the whole theme of the world and dungeons to be pretty neat looking. The game engine looks strikingly similar to Freedom Wars on the PS Vita/PS TV.

There were a couple flaws in the visuals in the battle portions of the game. The first problem comes when the enemy takes its turn and the camera gets trapped behind parts of the environment. Many times when the enemy is moving the camera seems to stay static in one position and a certain locked distance from each enemy unit. So if there’s a wall or something in the particular angle of the camera, you end up looking at a wall while the enemies move. While this isn’t a deal breaker, it seems like something that should have been easily addressed before the game was released but it’s a minor annoyance nevertheless.

The other problem is with the battle system when the system first loads. There’s quite a bit of frame rate drop for the first few moments on the PS3 version. As for the Vita version, the entire game seems to run much slower at all times and it does affect the experience while playing. I think perhaps if you do not play the PS3 version you won’t notice it as much, but it is a striking difference.

… does not include the Japanese voice tracks …
Audio:
The audio in the Lost Dimension is pretty standard overall. The game does make pretty good use of surround sound but it’s only really needed in the Deep Vision portions of the game where you must follow the voice of the suspect through a special vision minigame sequence.

The soundtrack is pretty good and is a mix of techno or electronica type music. As you find treasure hidden in certain parts of the maps you’ll unlock the ability to play the music from the Sound Test menu.

One further thing to note is that this localization does not include the Japanese voice tracks, so there is no ability to switch between English and Japanese voices. I usually don’t care about things like that but this may be a problem for those of you who prefer the original Japanese. I didn’t find any of the characters’ voices to be annoying at all so I don’t think it’s a big loss.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online components.

Conclusion:
Overall, Lost Dimension is a good JRPG with a decent amount of content, assuming that you get the free DLC. If you happen to buy this game and miss the free DLC, you might find that it’s a little brief if you do not intend to play multiple playthroughs. For some of you this might be a good one to play over the span of a week or two and maybe get in a couple of playthroughs. There’s not a lot of tedious dialog and the backstory is available if you want it. I do feel though that it would have been better if some of the backstory/lore were acted out or portrayed within the actual gameplay, rather than buried within a Tips menu or in extra DLC content.

While it’s very unfortunate that there’s no Cross-Save capability between the two versions, both are the same price which doesn’t make Cross-Save very feasible anyway. As mentioned above, for the first two weeks after launch the DLC will be free, so that adds a little extra value for the $40 asking price. Although this title works on the PSTV, I do not recommend the Vita version because of the technical problems.

I really did like Lost Dimension quite a bit though as it had lots of unique things that make it worth playing. It was one of the first tactical RPGs that I actually enjoyed so that made it pretty fulfilling personally. For those of you expecting a deep and rich value-priced RPG, this probably isn’t the game for you so you might want to wait for a sale. For those of you looking for a bite-sized RPG that still has the potential for multiple playthroughs and extra content, this might be a great game to play between your next game and some of the larger JRPGs coming out this year.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Jason Honaker

Jason Honaker

A software developer for over 15 years, originally from St. Louis, MO and currently living in Seattle, WA. Started gaming in 1979 on the Atari 800 8-bit PC. I play all sorts of games, but am partial to RPGs and 3rd person brawlers and shooters.

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  • Patrick Honeyman

    Thanks for this review. I was searching to see if the Western release had a Japanese audio track but stuck around to read the entirety of your review. Good work and I hope to read more in the near future.