Sometimes a game comes along that seems tailor-made for your particular sensibilities, so much so that a flaw or two are unable to diminish the overall joyous experience you're having in its world. Lost in Random from Zoink! and EA is one such game, an experience that pairs together dice rolls, an imaginative Tim Burton-esque world, card-based combat, and a lovely sense of wit to form something altogether unique and, more importantly, immensely special. Lost in Random quickly immerses you into its oddball world with a style all its own, and it's an experience you will not forget anytime soon.
Lost in Random is the story of a young girl named Even, who is trying to find and rescue her sister Odd, who was taken by the Evil Queen. Everything in this world is dictated by the roll of the dice, but it's not just a mechanic. There is an entire mythology and lore built around Dice and Dice-wielders, with massive battles and a compelling mystery at the center of it, as all of that intriguing history is woven into the game's combat flawlessly courtesy of your friend Dicey.
As the moniker implies, Dicey is the name of your mystical die that you find in the ancient valley of the Dice-wielders, and once you find him (which in and of itself is beyond delightful), he will accompany you on your adventure. You'll need to work with Dicey to defeat your enemies and progress through the game, and doing so requires some patience, strategy, and creativity, though the relationship between Dicey and Even is just as compelling outside of combat, and you will quickly become enamored with the adorable duo as they make their way through this trippy world.
When it's time for combat, the game puts its best foot forward. The combat system is novel, tactical, and, most importantly, fun. You will harvest energy pieces by shooting key points on enemies, which Dicey then flips his lid and absorbs (literally). The more energy Dicey absorbs, the more cards you gain access to in your hand. Once you've reached your max hand size, it's time to roll Dicey, and the number rolled is the number of points you have to purchase to use cards in your hand.
That might seem complicated reading it aloud, but after a few tries, it becomes second nature, and you will quickly identify a flow, rhythm, and pace of your own. The energy pieces on enemies are clearly marked, and your slingshot even gives an indication when you've hovered over one. Once those pieces are on the ground, you can either go pick them up with Dicey (who climbs on your back when he's got enough energy to roll) or you can point him towards the energy and he'll run off and collect them himself, freeing you up to evade, attack, or keep enemies occupied. Your deck starts out with just a few options early on, but as you purchase more cards from the shop (a very joyous man in a bookcase) and add more pips to Dicey, you continue to unlock new abilities and options for every encounter.
You'll go from being able to just use a sword or bow to having Dicey become a running bomb or unleashing a cannon, though you'll also open up access to defensive and hazard cards that shield you or slow down the enemy in a certain area. There are also bombs that bounce and cards that lower the cost of other cards in the mix, as well as healing potions and other options. Thankfully the game isn't always a straightforward you-versus-an-enemy battle, as some of the bigger battles are played out like a board game. When you take out certain enemies, you will move a giant game piece to a new square, and it can land on special spaces that can have positive or negative effects. You also have cards that can move pieces forward and others that can give you access to more cards, and the more Dicey is upgraded, the higher your rolls can be, thus allowing you to use more cards.
It's quite an addictive system that allows the best parts of all of these elements to shine without overwhelming each other, and you'll be mixing up your deck of cards throughout and finding the ones that suit your playstyle most before you know it. Having multiple sets of missions also keeps things fresh, and that's not including the boss fights, which also come with their own unique spins, like participating in poetry battles that can damage the villain.
Each of the towns in this odd land feel distinct from one another but also as if they exist in the same universe. Ryan North, who also wrote one of my favorite series in Marvel's The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, fills each town with a delightfully quirky cast, and each one manages to pack its own brand of fun and humor within its walls. That said, there are a few citizens that ratchet up the tension more than you might expect, and the Queen and her allies have an air of danger that keeps the stakes high throughout, even above the main goal of saving your sister. Lost in Random also knows when to slow things down and let the story breathe, investing you in smaller moments that endear you to the game's cast. This can also be seen in the game's sidequests, and while there aren't a ton of them, the ones that do show up more often than not make you feel as if it was time well invested.
There are a few hiccups, and one does happen as a result of the game's Burton-esque visuals. Because of the style used in the environment, some platforms are very oddly shaped or extremely skinny, like boards you have to traverse across, and, at times, it can be easy to get Even hung up in one particular place. It didn't happen often, but Dicey also managed to get stuck in a wall at one point, but a quick call with the Triangle button thankfully freed him from his texture prison.
The main point of frustration, though, is in the boss battles, as most of these are multilayered battles with different phases so to speak, but there's no checkpoint system within them, so if you die at the very last phase of a battle, you have to start it all over again. Because of the layer of strategy required to knock off energy, get that energy, roll Dicey, activate cards, and then repeat, some fights can take a while, and if you die a few times, you will definitely be gritting your teeth having to replay the whole thing from the beginning once more.
Even with that gripe, Lost in Random just does so much right that it doesn't even really matter. I wouldn't trade my experience in the game for anything, and I'd be willing to get lost in the world of Random all-over gain. If you're on the fence, trust me: just roll the dice and jump on in, because you won't regret it.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Lost in Random is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch, Origin, and Steam. A PlayStation 5 code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a PlayStation 5.