I’m a big fan of Zoink Games, with their work on the likes of Stick it to the Man, Fe, and Ghost Giant showing the creativity of the team when it comes to crafting unique gameplay experiences. Naturally then, I was excited for their latest release Lost in Random; not only because it raised the bar as far as production values were concerned for the team, but also because it looked like a genuinely enjoyable (and somewhat eerie) adventure.
I’m happy to report that the game delivered exactly what I hoped for, with the clever mix of gameplay mechanics and the beautiful yet dark world complemented by the unique flair that Zoink Games are so well known for.
Check out a gallery of screenshots down below:
Lost in Random takes place in a bizarre world built around chance, where every inhabitant’s fate is decided with the roll of a dice. This is something that especially affects the protagonist Even, when her younger sister Odd participates in a dice-rolling ceremony to determine her role in the land. The result? She rolls a six, which SHOULD lead to a life of luxury, but sees Odd dragged away from her family home and taken to the Queen. Joined by a mysterious yet magical die named Dicey, Even heads out across the land in order to rescue her sister and ensure that her fate won’t be decided by a dice roll.
There’s no doubting that Lost in Random’s tale is unique and I found myself utterly engrossed from start to end. The almost fairy tale-like setup is complemented by just how peculiar the world is, whilst the Burtonesque eeriness feels befitting of the story being told. There are some fascinating characters to be encountered throughout the game too, many of which have their own little stories to tell that flesh out the oddities of the world. The only disappointment is that the game seems to lack proper lip-syncing, but it’s a minor issue that won’t deter from your overall enjoyment of the story.
“The almost fairy tale-like setup is complemented by just how peculiar the world is, whilst the Burtonesque eeriness feels befitting of the story being told.”
Exploring as Even never feels short of fascinating, with the many districts of the world bringing with them plenty of unique sights and oddities to be seen. There’s an emphasis placed on exploration in order to keep your wallet healthy or grab collectibles, whilst there are also side quests aplenty to keep players occupied. Admittedly, these side quests are fairly simple and rarely innovate the gameplay formula all that much, but they’re still a nice diversion that flesh out the overall experience. I just loved being part of the world anyway, so I was happy to do any little task that Lost in Random threw my way.
Whilst exploration doesn’t offer anything you wouldn’t have done before in other third-person adventures, the combat feels REALLY unique and a whole lot of fun. It blends together deck-building, dice-rolling, and action-based battling into each showdown – it might sound like a weird and nightmarish mish-mash of ideas on paper, but it genuinely makes for some absorbing battling.
“Exploring as Even never feels short of fascinating, with the many districts of the world bringing with them plenty of unique sights and oddities to be seen.”
Players will collect cards as they progress through the game, with the varying card types offering something different. There are Weapon cards that allow you to summon a weapon to attack foes, Damage cards which will inflict damage on foes through various means, Defence cards which grant you a defensive buff, Hazard cards that summon traps to the battlefield, and Cheat cards that alter Even’s battling mechanics in a variety of ways.
You can’t use these cards without collecting dice shards though, which are gathered by hitting crystals off enemies with Even’s slingshot. This slingshot won’t inflict any damage, but instead acts as a means to fill you Dice Meter in order to draw cards, with a maximum of five held in your hand at a time.
When that’s done, players will roll Dicey and enter the Dicemension where time is slowed down – the number Dicey lands on rewards the player with Card Tokens. Each card in your hand has a specific value and it can only be activated if you’ve got the right amount of tokens, meaning there’s an element of luck in place as to what cards you’ll actually be able to use from your hand each time. Attacking is often the priority though, whether that’s by ensuring Even has a weapon to strike at foes or by simply using Damage or Hazard cards to ensure enemies are never safe.
“It blends together deck-building, dice-rolling, and action-based battling into each showdown – it might sound like a weird and nightmarish mish-mash of ideas on paper, but it genuinely makes for some absorbing battling.”
It might sound like there’s a lot to take in, but the mechanics are simple enough to get used to quite quickly. The battling itself is really fun too, with the different phases of each encounter adding a sense of tension as you slowly fill up your Dice Meter and HOPE you get some good cards in. But hey, it won’t matter if you don’t get the right dice roll anyway, though it is always worth seeing which cards work best together and if they have additional enhancements such as rewarding the player with more Card Tokens. There’s certainly a strong element of strategy to battling, but it’s also an enjoyable third-person action experience when you get your hands dirty as Even and dish out attacks of your own.
You’re constantly getting new cards, so it’s fun to see your deck evolve as you progress and open up more attacking options, whilst the ever-changing battlegrounds give more inventive and fun ways to approach battling. Some take a board game-style approach and it adds some a fun and unique twist to the already creative formula… believe me, the wacky nature of Lost in Random’s world certainly isn’t lost when it comes to battles.
“There’s an element of luck to both the cards you draw and the dice roll you make, meaning you might not only find yourself with cards that don’t inflict much damage, but might not even have enough Card Tokens to use them anyway.”
The only real downside to combat is that the luck-based mechanics can REALLY work against you. There’s an element of luck to both the cards you draw and the dice roll you make, meaning you might not only find yourself with cards that don’t inflict much damage, but might not even have enough Card Tokens to use them anyway. It’s a double-edged sword, really; I loved the elements of luck when it worked in my favour, but when they saw battles go on for much longer than they needed to or left my attacking options feeling limited, some frustrations could creep in.
It’s the only real caveat in what is otherwise a sublime experience though, with everything else about Lost in Random feeling great. I haven’t even really touched upon the visuals, which look fantastic throughout thanks to the Burtonesque styling, some brilliantly atmospheric lighting, and the vividly bizarre character and world designs. It’s a world that feels magic and unique to be a part of, which is something that’s easy to put down to just how beautiful it all looks.
Lost in Random Review
Lost in Random is a unique experience that’s bizarre, beautiful, and brilliant, with its creative battling certainly helping it stand out in the crowd. I found myself totally enamoured by the world and always wanted to explore every nook and cranny of it, whilst the inventively fun combat mechanics were unlike anything I’ve seen before in a third-person adventure like this.
Admittedly, the luck-based mechanics could work against the game in places and some battles dragged on longer than they needed to, but it didn’t sour what was otherwise a brilliant little adventure. Zoink Games have delivered yet again, and this time it just so happens to be with one of my favourite games of 2021.
Developer: Zoink Games
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC