Kadokawa’s latest game The Lost Child makes its way onto the already long list of recent and unsurprisingly fashioned dungeon crawling role playing games. The game was released in Japan on August 24th of 2017 for the PlayStation 4 and the PlayStation Vita consoles. In September of 2017 Nippon Ichi Software America announced that they would be bringing the game to North America, this North American localization was published on June 19th of 2018. The North American release is available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, and the Nintendo Switch. Basic and limited physical copies of the game can be purchased for the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. The limited edition includes the game, an official soundtrack, and a hard cover art book all inside of a collector’s box. The PlayStation Vita version is only available digitally and is not compatible with the PlayStation TV.
The game is intended to be a dungeon crawling spin-off/follow up to the 2011 action role playing title El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron and primarily takes place in the same world. The game begins in Tokyo where the occult journalist Hayato is currently looking into an epidemic of mysterious suicides, his search begins at a subway station where large numbers of people have been jumping in front of the subway trains. Hayato is saved by a mysterious young woman when he nearly becomes one of the victims, the woman leaves behind a strange suitcase entrusting it to the journalist who has now become “the chosen one”. The suitcase contains a strange gun that has a unique ability allowing the wielder to capture demons and other ethereal being known as Astrals, the investigation soon brings Hayato into another world where he will face off against and recruit the Astrals to reveal the cause of paranormal events. Story wise it feels a little bit like Persona 5 when taking into consideration that the suicides are linked to another world full of mythological and religion based creatures such as angels, demons, and creatures of Japanese folklore and the bit about capturing and recruiting those creatures.
The gameplay mechanics are incredibly basic at their core while also missing important mechanics and only adding a small handful of unique mechanics. The battle system is a rather basic one presented in a turn based style with a first person perspective much like the battle system in Stranger of Sword City, honestly nothing about the battle system is unique enough to make it stand out. The game feels like it pulled a few ideas from other games and slapped them into a basic cut and paste battle system. One of only a rare few aspects that really stood out involved the level up system, there are three different types of experience and each of your obtained Astrals will require different types. The level up system is among one of the most unique I have seen thus far, unfortunately it is drowned out by the game’s many basic and uninspiring mechanics. The game could have been far better than it turned out when it comes to the gameplay mechanics.
The graphics aren’t anything particularly special though the character and Astral designs are decent. The character designs stand out a little from those of other dungeon crawlers, the angel dressed as a witch is a bit quirky and the primary protagonist is refreshing and unique compared to lead protagonists of other recent dungeon crawlers. The Astrals vary greatly in their designs but are for the most part interesting, the only major issue with the Astral designs is that the art styles can vary a little too much from one design to the next. Some of the Astral looked more realistic while other look more cartoon in style, it breaks the immersion to a small degree. When it comes to the background art it could have been much better, the majority of the backgrounds feel generic which I can understand a little bit when it comes to real life locations but something more could have been done with it. The battle backgrounds are some of the worst I have seen in any dungeon crawler to date, they fail to blend in as part of the game and fail even more at standing out while making the enemies stand out far too much. Overall the graphics fail to truly stand out among the many other games in the over flooded dungeon crawling genre, the characters are decent but everything else is below average to at best average.
The soundtrack is also nothing spectacular while being decent enough that it is tolerable it doesn’t really stand out enough. The music tracks manage to set the tone of the game as is intended but they do nothing more for the game or the player, the music tracks are okay in the game but not something I would want on my music player or on an official sound track. The voice acting is decent and honestly not something I have come to expect in the genre, it adds a great deal more to the personalities of each character and to the tone of events. The sound effects aren’t bad either considering there are many dungeon crawlers that lack sound effects or have very poor sound effects. While the music is average the voice acting and sound effects make up for what the music lacks, this is very important in a game that doesn’t stand out much in most of its aspects.
If you are new to the dungeon crawling genre this might be a decent first experience but for veterans of the genre it may be considered too basic. While the game isn’t terrible it only has a few aspects that make it stand out from other titles of this genre. The plot of the game is interesting and reminds me a bit of Persona 5 but the gameplay mechanics are average at best. The sound track is just average and the graphics only stand out when it comes to some of the character designs while falling short significantly when it comes to the backgrounds and some of the Astral designs. The current price tag is a bit high for such a basic dungeon crawling experience, it might be best to wait for a sale or price drop if you are hoping to buy the game.
PROS (+): Enjoyable Characters, Unique Leveling System, Interesting Occult Story, Decent Voice Acting.
CONS (-): Gameplay Mechanics are Overly Basic, Overused Battle System, Generic Backgrounds, Average Soundtrack
SCORE – 7.0/10
This review is based on a digital copy of The Lost Child on PlayStation 4 provided by NIS America.