One look at the artwork for Lost in Random, and it’s hard not to be impressed. A dream-like world inspired by the works of Neil Gaiman and Tim Burton, oozing with gothic macabre and fantasy. Yes, it is mightily pleasant on the eyes, but is it any good? That, my friends, is where I can help you out. I recently spent a substantial amount of time exploring Random. I witnessed the beginning of the story, as well as the smart deck-building combat that makes up the main chunk of gameplay. Although there’ll be a lot more to see and do when Lost in Random releases, I was more than impressed from what I got to play.
Lost in Random: Neil Gaiman vibes
Taking place in the slums of Onecroft, the story opens with Even and her sister, Odd. On a child’s twelfth birthday, they have to roll the one true dice of the Queen to see where they have to spend the rest of their lives. Taken from their parents, never to return, the creepy Nanny Fortuna whisks kids away in a fairly harrowing experience. This is what happens to Odd. After a roll of the dice, she leaves to join the dark palace of the Queen: the Sixers Palace. A year passes, and Even still dreams about her sister. One night, she sees a ghost that she believes has something to do with Odd. From there, Even sets out on a journey to find out what really happened to her sibling.
Although it looked amazing, Lost in Random took a while to get going. Before any combat took place, I was introduced to some of the characters and surrounding locations. It reminded me of Coraline, of The Corpse Bride, with a chilling take on Alice in Wonderland. After stowing away on a ship, I ended up in the Valley of the Dice. Once there, I met the sidekick who’d eventually play a pivotal role in Lost in Random’s gameplay. Dicey is a living, breathing dice, something believed to be extinct in the world of Random. Imbued with the ability to harness the powers of the Dicemension, Dicey becomes an incredibly powerful and useful ally.
Intuitive and engaging combat
The way combat works in Lost in Random is rather extraordinary. By rolling Dicey, you are given Card Tokens. These can then be used to pick from any card in your deck, providing the number in the top right corner matches the amount of tokens you have. It works like any deck-building game you’ve played in recent years. Each card has a different effect, such as a damage card, a defence card, or a weapon card. For example, one card allows you to summon a bomb which can be activated by firing at it with your slingshot. The Sword of Three card lets you use a glowing sword that decreases its durability the more it is used.
Perhaps my favourite of the preview was the Critical Twenty card. Using this spawns an icosahedron that bounces around the environment doing damage to enemies that get in its way. Not only is it a neat D&D reference, it does a lot of damage. In order to pick from a range of cards, you need to collect crystals off enemies. This can be done by firing your slingshot at specific locations on them where crystals are located. You can also ‘Blink Dodge’ through them to make them drop a load. The more crystals you have, the more cards are on offer when you throw Dicey. Together, these mechanics work really well to make combat both different and strategic.
Lost in Random: Ripe for exploration
It appears to be a platformer, but there’s no jumping involved. This can make it feel a bit clunky at times. The fun in combat more than makes up for this, however. Even though you’re limited by how much you can do when running about, there’s plenty to explore. Dicey can be sent into holes to pluck coins out of them. You can fire your slingshot to collect coins form glowing objects out of reach. It’s important to collect these coins because they can be used to buy more cards for your deck. Speaking to Mannie Dex, the card collector gives you plenty of card options. He’s a weird yet lovely chap (if a bit ugly) that gives you a binder to keep them all in.
I presume that over time, you’ll build a decent collection. Even at this early stage, I saw some really useful cards that’ll help Even and Dicey as enemies become tougher. Despite only playing a small amount of Lost in Random, I loved what I saw. The card system is fantastic, and combat is much more than a carbon copy of iconic platformers like Super Mario Odyssey. The world of Random is gorgeous, and the story is poignant, creepy, but also filled with humour. If this isn’t on your radar, it should be now.
Lost in Random is coming to PC, Switch, PlayStation & Xbox consoles on September 10, 2021.