Game: The Lost Child
System: Nintendo Switch
Price:$49,99/ € 49,99/£ 49.,99/$79.95 (AU)
Overall Feeling: I’m not sure
(Review code kindly provided by NISA)
The Lost Child is a dungeon-crawler RPG. It released in America on the 19th of June, Europe the 22nd and will come to Australia on the 6th of July. It is a spin-off of the 2011 action game El-Shaddai.
Heaven From Hell
The game’s protagonist Hayato, is a journalist for an occult magazine. While investigating a rumored cause of train accidents he nearly has one himself. A mysterious woman saves him and hands him an odd briefcase. Soon after, Lua follows him around calling herself an angel and him the chosen one. While mostly ignoring her, Hayato continues on with his investigations.
You end up in a fight, and Lua instructs you to open the case, which contains a gun called the Gangour and a tablet. After beating the monster with your tripod, you use the Gangour which captures the demon.
The story is largely presented in visual novel style, with some dialogue choices. The dialogue choices can net you good, evil or dual karma. These choices do not otherwise impact the story and there is only one ending.
I Can Be Your Angel
The game play takes place in Layers, which are hiding places for demons. This is the typical dungeon crawling turn based fair with a couple extra mechanics. Hostility, is measured by the eye on the bottom of your character display. Going from blue, to purple, to red and spinning it shows how likely a character is to be attacked. This is useful to know when to block.
You can also collect demons, and other beings which are then called Astrals. This is done by using the Astral Burst when it has charged up. The meter is displayed at the top of the screen, when you attack if fills up. The burst meter can overflow, which means you cannot use the Astral Burst. Then using the tablet menu you purify them with karma. Karma is also earned by defeating enemies.
Lua and Hayato level up through experience but Astrals do not. You have to use your Karma to Levhell them. Any type can be used on your Astral but Evil is best for demons, as it is more efficient. Once your Astral is max level you can EVILve them using items, a couple of times. This resets their level so you have to feed them with Karma again but overall it makes them stronger.
Or Your Devil
You can have three Astrals equipped to your active party. Plus an extra six can be sub members. Switching between sub and main costs nothing and can be done in between battle. If an Astral falls, it has to be purified again. When inside a layer, adding an Astral to the party uses a battery charge of which there are ten. If Hayato dies, it is game over, unless you pay Keziah money or karma to return to or before the battle.
Everyone except for Hayato has magic points and skills. These skills are learned through the Fruits of Knowledge System. This means that during battle instead of doing what you choose they will use this skill they just picked up for the first time. I found this far more detrimental than helpful, as they would do this instead of healing themselves or others. There are also some other options for Astral customisation.
Outside of layers is a shop to purchase items, one to appraise equipment you find in the layer, and a bathhouse to gain a temporary buff. As a journalist you can also take on investigations. Which involve interviewing people from the area and then finding something or defeating a certain enemy inside the layer.
Caught In A Maze
Having not played a turn based dungeon crawler before I initially thought it was difficult. This was because I was under the impression that you had to complete a layer in one go. Which is definitely not the case, as you can walk back to the entrance where you will return to your office and completely heal. A little later in the game when money is less tight you can buy a Byahkee Return to instantly return home from any point inside a layer. The map for whatever floor you’re on will show wherever you’ve stepped. For a fair portion of the game I kept the map right in the middle of my screen. A lot of layers can’t be fully explored the first time as you have to come back later when you have a certain item to get past obstacles.
It’s actually quite easy, and this is coming from someone who hadn’t played this genre before. Four hours into the game when I went to change the sound settings I found that there are three difficulties. If you have experience with this genre I would say to play it on Hard. I can’t recommend anyone play it on easy as it’s a complete joke. I tried it at the end, once it actually got difficult, to see if the one-hit knockout move existed in it. As the mid-boss in the second last layer kept using it on the character that’s not allowed to die. She didn’t even last two turns, the regular enemies were much more pathetic.
At the end of the game the difficulty was more that you were more likely to miss, and the encounter rate finally ramped up. Asides from the very last few bosses, I found most of them went down the first try. After the first layer I used the same three Astrals the entire game and never bothered to swap them out. There is a 99 floor layer in the game, which you can access early on. You aren’t allowed to use warp items and if one of your Astrals falls in battle there, only Keziah on the first floor can fix them. If you are looking for a challenge or a place to grind, you can go there.
A Piece of Layer-Cake
All the layers have puzzles in them, some of which involve hitting switches, or just finding your way around in general. At first I didn’t mind them, but by the third layer they seemed to be more focused on walking a long way to try this switch to see if it does what I need it to. There are also two layers which have holes you don’t see until you step on them. Which mightn’t be so bad but there are loading screens every time you change floors, and that gets repetitive very fast. Another layer introduces illusory walls, so then you have to start smacking into every wall until you find the right one. I got stuck on one puzzle because I didn’t realise that a wall was destructible.
Some time later I was really stuck on one, because the hint was to find a room hidden by a fake wall in the unluckiest direction. I tried googling what that might be but all that came up was Feng-Shui and that depended on the individual. Thankfully someone uploaded a shortened play through of the Japanese release. Perhaps I would have found it on my own, when I noticed the gap in the map where there was no room. How was I to know that slightly North-East is the unluckiest direction? As the game will be out for longer guides will eventually be made, making this less of a problem for people.
Yet another puzzle was actually quite easy to figure out but monotonous to enact. I had to kill specific enemy types in each room. This meant that I had to move back and forth to trigger fights, fighting the wrong enemies until I got the ones I needed. That took twenty five minutes, because I had to wait on the game. Later there were again a few puzzles I liked, but these other ones were a massive time drain and hampered my experience.
Not So Helpful
The treasure chests are found both in the layer and are dropped from enemies. Trying to unlock it will either unlock it more or increase the danger lever. If the danger level goes all the way up it will trigger the trap. This can do things like drop your health down to one, or make you unable to read the map. Towards the end I found the constant treasure chests tiresome, as well as filling my inventory frequently.
The loading hint screens also seem to be selective with information. In the third layer I learned that I can use the Autopilot function to go back to anywhere I stepped on the map. That made certain puzzles more tolerable. It also wasn’t until one of the last layers where I learned the order of elemental weaknesses.
Story wise it seems simple enough to start. Then I found it weird that we have guys like Cthulhu in a game about fighting demons. Later on as it got more complicated, it eventually made more sense. The plot did, not the mixing of various religions and concepts. It isn’t particularly compelling though, even in emotional scenes. I got annoyed at Lua as she agitated certain characters, essentially making things worse because of her righteousness. She eventually grows out of it, and I never completely disliked her. When a game gives you no choice in the story, then alludes to you doing something and doesn’t let you ask about it because of your loud-mouth side character, it hurts. Asides from that the story is adequate, and it pushes you through the game. I did like some of the side characters, the shop-keeper Leon in particular.
I was initially surprised at how poor the graphics of the layers seemed to be, but I got over it. At least because of this game play runs perfectly fine in both docked and handheld mode. The layers themselves do have different aesthetics in design, but only a couple have unique puzzle types. This game is perfectly functional, and is approximately thirty-ish hours depending on your difficulty, or how bad you are at solving puzzles. There are also the side investigations and R’lyeh Road the ninety-nine floor layer.
There is dual audio available, I kept in on English as I found it fine. Lua was a little annoying but so is her character and you can turn off her in battle chat in the options. I didn’t mind the music, though it’s nothing particularly great either.
I didn’t expect a good story. As this is very similar to the Shin Megami Tensei games, some people might have expected that. While mostly a clone there are a couple different features, and all the Astral designs are unique.
Due to the game being similar to SMT games while not doing anything special and having a bland story I don’t think many people would like this in comparison. Unless you’re a dungeon crawling fanatic and can’t have enough. I did enjoy the game a fair amount of the time, but it got truly irksome due to certain puzzles being put one after another. These kind of game probably are repetitive but it was those things that I found the worst. So I’m not really sure whether I like the game or not.
You can watch the video version of my review here:
Dungeon Crawlers aren’t known for their stellar graphics. They do however have a reputation for being tough. If this dungeon crawler is easy I might actually complete one for a change.
That’s a good way of looking at it too!
I was thinking that! 🙂