13 Sep 2021 3:33 PM +00:00

Lost In Random Preview - A Song of Dice and Fire

Lost In Random lies among the more unique experiences I’ve recently encountered. Picture a Tim Burton-esque fairy tale mixed with a deck-builder, and you’ve got the right idea. Previously bringing us Fe, developers Zoinks now return with a new EA Originals entry, taking players to the tabletop-themed Kingdom of Random for a gothic 3D action-adventure.

Launching later this month on PC and all major consoles, I was invited to a preview presentation, hosted by Zoink’s Head of Development (Klaus Lyngeled) and Creative Director (Olov Redmalm) respectively. Calling it “most ambitious project we’ve ever done”, that included a hands-on session with an early access PC build. Covering the opening 2-4 hours, it certainly looks promising.

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Once Upon A Time

Lost in Random screenshot - Even and Dicey looking at the Kingdom of Random
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Comprised of six different realms, the Kingdom of Random is a shadow of its former self, ruled under the oppressive thumb of a wicked Queen. Having banished dice from the public, our cold-hearted Queen is the last dice-wielder across this macabre world and upon reaching 12 years old, she rolls her D6 to determine your destiny. Placing you in the slums of Onecroft, the Queen’s palace as a Sixer or everywhere else in between, your life’s decided by that fateful D6.

We play as Even, a young child living with her family in Onecroft. Cruelly separated from her sister, who’s sentenced to become a Sixer, she begins experiencing strange dreams a year after their separation, believing Odd is calling out to her. Soon enough, Even plots her escape from the town, evading detection and conversing with its strange inhabitants, though these chats dragged on a bit. In many ways, Onecroft’s your standard tutorial setting before reaching Two-Town, which was also available in this preview, but it set the tone nicely for this macabre world.

There’s a strong narrative focus and Zoink confirmed Lost In Random only features one ending, so don’t worry about hitting set criteria. Alongside collectible storybook pages, which tell a tale of the Kingdom’s history, you’ve also got numerous side quests, often involving simpler matters like finding potion ingredients or trading secrets. Ultimately, we’re told it’ll take around 12-16 hours to complete, depending on how thorough you are.

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The Dex Of Many Things

Lost in Random screenshot - Even rolling Dicey in combat
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Soon enough, you’ll meet a D6 called Dicey, who becomes Even’s companion. He can be used for puzzle solving, like standing on two switches to open doors, but combat is his main calling and this is where gameplay get interesting. For a game that takes influence from deck-builders, it may surprise you that fights involve real-time action. So, how does this work? Before battle, Even can hold a deck of up to 15 cards, which come in five varieties: weapon, damage, defence, hazard, and cheat.

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To use them, you’ll need to collect dice shards to fill up a dice meter. When that’s filled, Even can throw Dicey, entering the “dicemension” where time freezes to choose a card. Did I mention dice are involved? Anyway. Each enemy has blue crystals across their body, which you can hit with a slingshot to fill that meter and depending on how dicey lands (he won’t have all his pips for higher numbers, at first), that’ll determine how many card tokens you get. Each card has a token cost, so spend wisely.

As for your combat style, that’s entirely dependent on your chosen deck, which is understandably limited at first. So, if you prefer melee combat, you can summon a sword, alongside bombs for area of effect damage, crossbows for long-range and, if Even’s looking rough, status-restorers like Health Elixirs. Soon enough, we’ll encounter a card merchant, Mannie Dex, who provides a binder to set up multiple decks, alongside new cards in exchange for coins. If you’re short on cash, you can earn more by defeating enemies, alongside smashing blue pots with your slingshot.

Strong Odds

Lost in Random screenshot - The Wicked Queen
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Mostly, Lost in Random nails this approach and NPC conversations aside, I found little to fault. While restrictive at first, combat’s customisability was really enjoyable, offering the benefits of deck-building games but forgoing that turn-based nature of the tabletops which inspired it, allowing faster paced battles. By relying on Dicey’s rolls, obtaining tokens can be a lottery which may potentially frustrate later in the game, but for now, there’s much to enjoy.

If you’re finding the game tough, there’s also an easier “story mode” for accessibility, letting you enjoy this tale if you’re not seeking a challenge. Better yet, that’s changeable at any point, so you’re not stuck with that decision. Overall, Lost In Random’s shaping up nicely, implementing some entertaining, excellent gothic visuals with a fitting soundtrack and an intriguing story. We’ve not got long to find out whether it’ll carry that momentum, and I look forward to seeing the finished product.

Previewed on PC using these specs, played with an Xbox Series controller.