Lost to chance feels cool. The developer, Zoink, has made a weird game thanks to its weird mechanics and an even stranger world, which defies easy description. I spent a few hours playing the intro a few weeks ago, and I can say with certainty that it’s a fascinating game that feels great to play despite several issues I have with its construction.
Set in the world of Random, we follow the journey of a young girl named Even on a quest to save her sister. Chance is ruled by an evil queen, whose rolls of the only magic dice in existence determine how the inhabitants live. For example, when a child turns 12, the Queen rolls the dice to determine which city that person will spend the rest of their life in.
Even’s sister, Odd, rolls a six and is taken to spend the rest of her life at Sixtopia. When Even sees a vision a year later that appears to be her sister calling for help, she sets off on a journey through Random in order to save Odd. Along the way, she gets help from an anthropomorphic dice named Dicey, who speaks with squeals so charming that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the little guy.
It sounds like a loophole to describe the world as a Tim Burton creation, but that’s only because this style permeates the whole game. The rickety houses that stand on stilts framed against a dark night sky and the people with it. large furry faces and amphibians walking alongside people with elongated limbs give off goosebumps at every turn. The visuals, which appear to be a cross between classic stop-motion animation and clay, easily immerse you in the world and are captivating during opening hours.
“Lost in Random is cool.”
Yet at the same time, he feels empty. Random is vast, with large open plazas and narrow streets interspersing the landscapes interchangeably. As beautiful as it looks visually, it clearly lacks life. It seems outdated, mainly because there are so few people to talk to or interact with. This doesn’t mean that there is a lack of things to do, but that the world is so big and yet so devoid of the things that inhabit the world that I feel like I’m walking into a theatrical production of the world of Random rather than the world itself.
It’s also because navigating the environment like Even is often tedious. She moves at a pace that I could nicely describe as slow and trying to jump or grab a ladder can be finicky at times. This makes the environmental puzzles complex, as the controls aren’t as responsive as I would have liked. Coupled with the feeling of emptiness in the environments themselves, it is safe to say that movement is not Lost to chancethe strong point of.
What is, however, is the dialogue and the characters. Talking to the locals of Random, whether it’s the locals of Onecroft or the two-faced locals of Two-Town, is a delight due to the combination of goosebumps and humor found in almost every conversation. A pair of twins reveal that they share everything with each other, including their romantic partners.
“Likewise, combat is what I found most interesting about Lost in Random.”
One quest requires you to collect screeching slimy creatures that serve no purpose other than to sit and scream, much to the dismay of the inhabitants of the nearby town, to discover that the sludge can actually be used to destroy personalities once they are mixed. The dark aspects of the game are kept under a fancy glaze that just might prove to be squeaky over time, but in my three hours with the game, they were just enough to keep me invested.
Likewise, the fight is what I found most interesting about Lost to chance. Even she herself is just a young girl armed with a slingshot, which she can use to drop crystals on enemies in order to get the energy to roll Dicey. Once you’re able to, you can roll the small dice to earn points which can be spent on powerful cards you draw from a deck. As time stops after you cast Dicey, you can take your time deciding which cards to activate before coming back in real time hitting enemies with the powerful new abilities you just learned.
Some abilities provide weapons, like a bow with which you can charge hits or a sword for hack n ‘slash action. Others create traps, like bombs that can be shot for great effect or giant 20-sided dice that bounce around the arena. Or it could just be a healing potion or a card that reduces the cost of other cards in a given hand. Once you’ve completed stopping time, your hand returns to your deck and the process repeats.
This system is fun to play, even though the maps I had access to were simple in design. The mix of real-time combat and freeze-time to make strategic decisions that depend on a dice roll sounds complicated, but in practice it’s easy to grasp and delve into. Although I was still at the beginning, the ability to create and build your own deck of cards is exciting, as long as the design of the card allows for some really nasty effects later in the game. There is even a store. of cards where you can buy new cards, and hopefully endgame decks can be more than just “hit enemy until dead” combinations.
And that’s really the problem with Lost to chance– if he can still feel fresh outside of his opening hours. As I finished my demo, I wondered how future levels and environments would feel, and if the aesthetics would become tiring over time. I wondered how deep the combat and deckbuilding was, and if it would develop to be as creative and engaging as it could be. In a sense, it has an equal chance of being either a disappointing one-note experience or a unique action-adventure that makes great use of its visual design and unique combat system.
But those hours of operation are enough to keep me invested in what happens next. Lost to chance Perhaps a bummer, but the fact remains that few games of this caliber are as experimental or as interesting as this one.