Do you ever play tabletop games? Sure, we’ve all had a round of Monopoly or twelve across the years, but there’s something special about it. Sitting around a table with friends, breaking out those fancy dice you didn’t need to buy for Dungeons & Dragons when rolling attack, it's a feeling you can't beat. Tapping into that experience as a gothic action-adventure fairy tale, we come to Zoink’s Lost In Random, a game held promise during a hands-on preview several weeks ago. Now that its finally here, I’m happy to call it a certified winner.
Dice To See You
Taking players to the tabletop-themed Kingdom of Random for a gothic 3D, we find a land ruled by an oppressive queen. Having destroyed all dice across the kingdom’s six realms, our cold-hearted monarch remains the sole dice-wielder, rolling a D6 upon your 12th birthday to determine your destiny. So, whether you’ll spend your days in Onecroft, Two-Town, Threedom, Fourburg, Fivetropolis or Sixtopia, that’s settled in a single roll.
This adventure revolves around Even, a young girl who lives with her family in Onecroft. After her older sister, Odd, is sentenced to become a Sixer, she experiences visions of her sister a year later, alongside the appearance of a mysterious ghost that beckons her. Quickly escaping the town, she’s soon joined by a sentient D6 called Dicey, travelling together to ultimately threaten the Queen’s long-standing reign.
As such, we’ll be exploring these six realms across this adventure. While Onecroft’s considered the slums of Random, Two-Town brings an obsession with duality, Threedom lies in ruins after the King’s triplets go to war, Fourberg's basically a casino town, Fivetropolis is where the cardmakers once lay, while Sixtopia is the Queen's home. Outside the main story, each major area also includes collectible storybook pages that tell the Kingdom’s history, side quests like finding potion ingredients or tearing down wanted posters, and more to keep you busy. There’s only one set ending, so don’t worry about missing anything, and it took me about 16 hours to complete.
Play Your Cards Right
Shockingly, not everyone’s thrilled about Even’s adventure and you’ll be fighting your way through these six realms. Taking influence from deck-builders, Lost in Random lets you customise a deck of 15 cards, coming in five varieties: weapon, damage, defence, hazard, and cheat. Obtained by defeating strong opponents - or using your coins to buy more Random’s omnipresent card merchant, Mannie Dex - it may surprise you to learn that fights involve real-time combat.
That might leave you asking: How does this work? Once in battle, you must collect dice shards to fill up your dice meter, commonly done by shooting blue crystals off enemies with your slingshot. That's a little awkward against faster enemies and puts you on the backburner when fights begin, but once filled, cards become available up to a maximum of five per roll, each holding a token cost. There’s some great customisation involved here, letting you choose melee weapons like a Warhammer and swords, Area of Effect attacks like bombs, crossbows for long range, status restorers like health elixirs and more, proving incredibly versatile.
Once filled, Even then throws Dicey to enter the “dicemension”, freezing time as you choose your card and depending on the number Dicey’s landed on, that’ll determine how many tokens you get, potentially letting you pick multiple cards. By relying on Dicey’s rolls, obtaining tokens is essentially down to chance, which can prove frustrating but if you’ve not got enough tokens, Mannie eventually gives Even golden pins, letting you secure a card for your next roll.
Across The Board
Outside these standard fights, several sequences involve battling across a board game, where Dicey’s rolls determine how far your piece moves in one turn. That’ll involve defeating enemies alongside it and though enemy waves could take some time - and I do wish there was more variety between these foes - Zoink’s done a great job at realising this concept.
By eliminating the turn-based nature of tabletop experiences, Lost in Random benefits significantly from faster combat and though fights can start slow as you’re building up the dice meter, I found it really enjoyable. It's slightly challenging at times if you’re not quick on defensive rolls, though if Lost in Random proves tough, there’s a “story mode” difficulty you can fall back on. That can be changed anytime, so you’re not stuck with that decision.
I’d be remiss not to discuss Lost in Random’s stunning presentation too. Random’s a well-realised world, beautifully portrayed with an art style reminiscent of Tim Burton’s films and Little Nightmares. Admittedly, the six regions aren’t that visually distinctive from each other, but the stories they tell give each land some much-needed personality. Zoink’s done a fine job and there’s a fitting soundtrack to accompany this all, too.
Lost in Random is easily one of the more unique games I’ve played recently. Offering an entertaining fusion of deck-builders and real-time combat, Zoink’s done well in realising their vision. Thanks to chance-based combat, lack of enemy variety and some long-winded dialogue with NPCs, it's not perfect, but ultimately, the positives outweigh these points. With some strong combat customisation, a captivating story and excellent art style, Lost in Random comes highly recommended.
Reviewed on PS5.
Review copy provided by the publisher.