In a world ruled by the roll of the dice, one girl’s quest to find her sister will separate fate, determination, and RNG. Lost in Random centers on the idea of games to build out the world of Random, a land dictated by the powers of a rolled die, magical cards, and enormous game pieces. But it’s far more than its gimmick, telling an endearing story of friendship, as well as persistence even when the odds are stacked against you.
To call Lost in Random “Burton-esque” would be putting it lightly. It clearly takes a lot of inspiration from the dark charms of Tim Burton films like The Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie, and Corpse Bride. Elements of hand carved dolls and stitched together pieces make the world feel handmade and miniature. To this end, it also captures a lot of the same feelings one might get from a Laika film like Coraline, bordering a line between alluring and foreboding. It’s then not too unlike previous Zoink! titles dating all the way back to Stick it to the Man, but it continues their more recent pursuit of fully 3D games.
When Even’s sister Odd is taken by the evil queen, Even sets out to rescue her. Fate soon intervenes and pairs Even with a living dice named Dicey. Through Dicey’s rolls, Even can call upon the powers of cards to aid her in battle. Once thought that only the queen could wield the last of the reaming dice, Even’s quest now becomes about much more than finding her sister. Indeed, she might just be the only one who can free Random from the clutches of the evil queen once and for all.
Lost in Random Review – The Reaches of Random
Random is made up of six districts, each based on the numbers on the side of a die. Onecroft, where Even and Odd hail from, could be considered the slums, while the wonderous Sixtopia is an out-of-reach utopia resting above the rest of the kingdom. Through their journey, Even and Dicey will travel to each of the districts, replete with their own problems and mini stories within themselves. Two-Town features a society of split personalities, including a mad upside-down version of the mayor named Royam. Threedom is besieged by an endless war as the three children of the murdered king are locked in an ongoing struggle. Fourburg, once razed by the queen in an old war, finds that a new town has popped up within the bones of the old.
It was always fun to reach a new area and explore its history and characters, to see how it fit into the world that is Random. Each is fairly unique, even if the game’s rather foggy purpleish-brown color palette remains largely the same throughout. The areas also become increasingly complex, and at times get difficult to navigate. There’s a map you can pull up, but it’s a highly stylized representation of the area you are in without any clear markers for where you are on it. By the time I had figured out how to easily navigate one of Random’s districts, I was being swept off to the next one. It’s a minor issue, but certainly an ever-present theme on my journey through Random.
While cavorting through town and fraternizing with the locals (typically to solve all of their problems), I was delighted at the wonderfully witty writing all around. While none of the characters are particularly deep on any level, I wouldn’t call any of them dull. Zoink! has a history for writing fantastic characters, even if they’re a bit one-dimensional. Even in particular has a strong-willed attitude, but as the main character, she’s given a bit more depth and freedom to express emotions; doubts, sadness, happiness, and resilience. She’s not a damsel in distress, but a character on a mission.
Throughout the game, you’ll have the opportunity to choose responses to other characters, and though they may not affect the story, they do present an opportunity to make Even your own. Is your Even snarky? Genuine? Is she curious and wants to know more, or does she just want this bunch of weirdos to shut up? My only disappointment with these dialog options was that none of them are voiced. Even’s voice work is done wonderfully, bringing a spark of life to this character who looks like a carved wooden doll, and I wished that the variety of dialog options allowed players to breathe even more life into her.
Lost in Random Review – Roll of the Dicey
When you aren’t talking to the strange denizens of Random, you’ll usually find yourself in battle. Even herself is largely defenseless and doesn’t possess the means to attack, except with a slingshot. Using the slingshot, she can break crystals for Dicey to collect, which allows you to draw cards. Give Dicey a toss and the game world freezes, letting you pick cards based on the number you rolled. Some cards give you weapons to attack with, while others can heal you or lay down traps for enemies. It’s an action game, mixed with real-time strategy deck-builder elements, a unique conglomerations unlike any I’ve seen.
The biggest problem with the combat is that it doesn’t really gain any significant depth or strategy. I rarely felt the need to change up my deck (save for the occasional unique “game board” battles, but even those were just adding in the Game Master cards).There’s no particular reason to use one card over the other, and I tended to always just go for the hammer and bow to lay down attacks until the battle was done. Any other cards I got were bonuses, not pertinent to my “strategy” of beating the daylights out of these robotic machines. Enemy variety barely changes throughout the game. Some are tougher. Some have electric shields that hurt you if you melee attack them (that’s what the bow is for).
I was hoping for more RPG-like aspects to the combat. Enemies who were resistant to certain weapons or effects, while weak to others. Reasons you’d want to use the sword over the hammer or spear. But the game doesn’t really have any of that, at least not in any way that makes a significant difference in combat. For all of the possibility that Lost in Random’s combat offers, that level of depth is never achieved in a meaningful way. Fights ended up feeling rather stagnant by the time I was done, especially for some of the battles that get a bit long in the tooth.
Still, Lost in Random’s delightfully dark and eerily twisted world, characters, and story kept me pushing through. There are a few story elements hinted at that are disappointingly dropped or forgotten near the end (it’s not near as big of a twist as I was anticipating the ending to be based on some contextual clues scattered throughout), but it’s still a fantastic tale full of heart about friendship, family, and numerous individual stories presented via interactions with Random’s various citizens. And at more than 12 hours to experience everything, it’s not a small adventure either.
Lost in Random is a magical adventure, and though its dice and card-based combat system never achieves a significant depth at which it could, its still a worthwhile journey. Zoink’s strength lies in building wonderous, mysterious, and frankly just weird characters and worlds. Hand-in-hand with Even and Dicey, you won’t be disappointed at getting lost in Random.
Lost in Random review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS5, For more information, please read our Review Policy.