Lost in Random Review
Oddities and eventualities
The author of Alice in Wonderland was a talented mathematician. Lewis Caroll (real name Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) lectured in mathematics for years, although he is best known for his famous books. His skill with numbers might have been why Alice’s adventures were so quick-witted and oddly creative. What would his stories be like with a more direct use of numbers? Maybe like Lost in Random, a third-person adventure game that mixes tactical and real-time combat. Although Lost in Random is not set in the same universe, it does share themes and ideas. It could be called a spiritual successor, with a darker setting and a focus on the numbers found on six-sided dice. Thanks to a consistent use of numerals, enjoyable action, and an intriguingly paced story, this one is worth playing.
You play as Even, a young girl and resident of Onecroft, situated in the magical realm of Random. The entire land is ruled by a powerful Queen, who owns the only magical six-sided die that she rolls to dictate the fate of others. When children reach age 12, they must roll the Queen’s special black die and whatever side it lands on determines where they must be relocated. The realm is split into six parts, from the lowly junkyard of Onecroft to the glorious palace in Sixtopia.
Even’s sister, Odd, turns 12 and rolls the Queen’s method of population control. It lands on six and Odd is forcibly taken to the Queen’s palace with other kids. Not long after, Even has troubling visions of her older sibling. Then a strange ghost appears, beckoning Even to leave Onecroft. Against all odds, and with only a puny slingshot in hand, Even sets out to find what happened to her sister.
It is not long before Even stumbles into the Valley of the Dice. This mysterious land was hidden from the Queen during the great dice war—when she ordered all other dice to be destroyed. Now the valley is a wasteland of abandoned cubes. Among the pile is one die that comes alive and bonds to Even. This sentient cube, called Dicey, helps Even fight the Queen’s nefarious robots and access new parts of the realm.
Travelling through the various areas in Random is pleasing. Each part (from 1 to 6) is visited in sequential order, for about the same amount of time, so players have a natural indication of progress every step of the way. Dicey is also upgraded steadily, to roll higher numbers. All the areas are interesting in their own way. Two-Town is populated by residents with dual personalities. Threedom is at war with itself because three silly siblings are squabbling. And Fourburg was built on the ruins of a destroyed city.
Dwellers within the vast realm are unusual and visually intriguing. Character designs are like those from a Tim Burton film, and many appear to be made of painted clay, which helps set the game apart. Locations also look great, with contorted buildings and winding streets. The game has a darker, gothic setting that suits it well. The dialogue is also intelligent and bizarre, with lots of number puns and dry wit. Voice actors do a great job of bringing the characters to life, although some conversations are bloated and probably better skipped.
Each part of Random has a few side quests for Even to complete. These are basic tasks that require only a bit of exploration and light conversation, which is made easy with a great abstract map and in-game icons. Completing quests rewards Even with coins—also gained by breaking pots with the trusty slingshot. Coins can be used to buy cards, from a trader, Mannie Dex, who is found around almost every corner. Cards are pivotal to combat as they give Even special abilities to take down robot opponents in both real-time and tactical combat.
Even has no way to damage enemies by default, so she must roll Dicey to access the magical powers gained from playing the cards she owns. But to roll Dicey, she has to collect crystals that are found on foes like weak spots. The first way to get crystals is to hit them with the slingshot and ask Dicey to retrieve them. The other is to dodge through enemies just as they attack. With enough crystals, Dicey can roll and whatever number he lands on dictates what value cards can be drawn. Each roll of Dicey pauses time indefinitely and lets players shuffle through cards without a time pressure.
Cards have different values based on their strength. Basic melee abilities include a sword, lance, hammer, and these have limited uses before they expire. These melee weapons also have a charged attack and combat operates like a simple third-person action game. Since time is paused after each roll, players get one free hit before time resumes again. There is also a ranged bow and even some bombs that can be detonated by shooting at them. Other cards provide various benefits, including a time bubble to slow foes, health potions, and extra damage for performing dodges or attacks.
Even can pick 15 cards for her deck, from a selection of over 30 unique, so compromises have to be made to find the best setup. Buying Mannie’s entire stock is possible after doing all side quests and breaking most pots. This gives duplicates, but that can be a good thing when certain cards are more useful, and equipping more than one increases the chance of it being called. It does not take long to build a set that performs well. Despite there being a few different enemy types in the queen’s robotic army—ranged, exploding, stabbing, flying, pounding—not much change is needed to handle them all. A broad range of cards will suffice; it just might take a few more rolls to win the day.
Combat is fun and the randomness of Dicey/cards means it is unpredictable in a good way. The battles are also easy but not boring, and only late game does it require more thought due to enemy types that cause damage when Even touches them. Another rarer enemy also moved during the paused time, which added some interesting pressure when selecting cards. Some skirmishes drag on a bit though, either because enemies keep spawning or because the last foe is not quite dead when all offensive weapons expire.
The biggest change to the action occurs when the game presents special board-game arenas. Here the combat functions like before, but each roll of Dicey moves forward a game piece across the world. There is a special card that adds to this piece movement, but the best approach is to just roll as often as possible. Certain enemies block piece movement, and they must be killed to progress. There are also other buffs when landing the piece on specific squares. The board-game arenas are all unique, which is great for changing things up, but not a lot of thought is needed to complete any of them.
Outside of combat, there is not much gameplay variety. There are no puzzles or platforming sections, and a few stealth challenges are scarcely worth a mention. So you will either be slingshotting breakables for coin, exploring towns, or talking to strange characters with dialogue choices that might require a bit of thought. The game does not suffer much from this lack of depth. Everything included has a purpose and is well polished. The music is an example. It is a fairytale mix of dreamlike choirs, piano dancing, and sweeping orchestral moments. It can be hard to notice at times because it is predictable for an adventure of this type. But like the visuals, combat, and number themes, the music fits into the adventure effortlessly.
Lost in Random is a good trip through a numerical wonderland. Across about 12 hours, players are treated to a well-paced adventure as they meet peculiar characters and explore interesting locations across a sequentially connected world. The combat remains enjoyable over the whole journey, with random cards being drawn and deployed in combat after rolling a sentient six-sided die that pauses time. Despite some unique board-game arenas, there is not a lot of depth to the whole experience. But Lost in Random is easy to play and remains consistently enjoyable. And that means it is definitely worth throwing some dice down this particular rabbit hole.