Lost Dimension takes a while to get going, which is surprising, since it opens with half the world blowing up.
One day, a guy who calls himself “The End” kills two billion people, then holes up at the top of a strange creation he calls the “Pillar” and tells the world he’ll be nuking it in thirteen days. The world, unwilling to put up with his shenanigans, sends in a military force to invade the Pillar, which dwindles down to eleven miscellaneous teenage psychics from all over the world, several of whom are dressed like schoolgirls for no adequately explored reason.
The twist kicks in shortly thereafter, when The End reveals that several of the psychics are traitors, and further, that they can only progress from one floor of the Pillar to the next by sacrificing one of their own. As Sho, the nominal leader of the group with the gift of receiving premonitions, you need to figure out which of the psychics is the traitor across the course of several fights, so when you reach the next floor, you know who to kill.
The identities of the traitors are apparently randomized across a single run, and Lost Dimension is designed for multiple runs. You can gradually gain trust with each character in the group by healing them during fights or talking with them between missions, which can make the whole thing a gamble. I lost the single best melee fighter on my team the first time I had to sacrifice a character, and while all eleven of the psychics are apparently quite decent by the endgame (I had to look it up, but even the ones that seem useless early on are just late bloomers), it’s a threat hanging over all of your decisions. It’s quite possible that you could spend a lot of time and money on a given character, only to have to kill them immediately thereafter.
The actual gameplay in Lost Dimension reminds me of Operation Darkness, or maybe Valkyria Chronicles. The Pillar is populated by roving bands of robots that want to kill everything they see, and you deal with them through a turn-based strategy system that’s a little buggy but otherwise surprisingly robust. It heavily focuses on counters, assist attacks and mobility, and characters can Defer their turns to each other to allow multiple actions. It’s surprisingly complex, although it feels a bit half-baked; it involves a high number of short loading screens, the framerate occasionally chokes up, and the camera regularly buries itself in a wall.
The strategy portion of Lost Dimension could be a lot of fun, but it’s limited. You can only have six characters on the field at once and the enemies are very straightforward, so in a way, it feels like it’s killing time in between the high-impact sci-fi soap opera of the traitor plot. That, in turn, discourages me from putting any real time in developing my characters or strategies, because I can’t count on any single member of my crew besides Sho being there a level from now.
That kind of push-pull may appeal to some people, like those of you who put Dangan Ronpa and similar games on the map. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool Fire Emblem fan, this might also hold your attention. As far as I’m concerned, though, this game just isn’t for me. I find the sacrifice mechanic more frustrating than fun.
Reviewed By: Thomas Wilde
This review is based on a digital copy of Lost Dimension for the PlayStation 3 provided by Atlus.