There's a certain charm to darker fairy tales, the kind that have lasted generations. In more modern times, they're the kinds of stories brought to life on a movie screen by director Tim Burton. This aesthetic thrives in Lost in Random, a tale from Swedish indie developer Zoink that's being published as the latest in the EA Originals line. It looks to be a story that's dark, slightly haunting, and yet intriguingly whimsical. Shacknews recently got a chance to check out the game's first few stages and further jump into the Burton-esque rabbit hole.
Lost in Random's story, written by Marvel Comics' Ryan North, is set in a world where children come of age and have their fates decided by a roll of the dice. The main character, a poverty-stricken girl named Even, watches as her sister, Odd, is abducted by the evil Queen of Random after a fateful dice roll. Even ultimately sets off on a journey to search for her lost sister, which sets this oddball fairy tale in motion.
A bulk of the demo centered around standard 3D platforming. Even could wander the opening town of Onecroft, talking to various townsfolk and learning more about the kingdom of Random and how it works. Making progress largely involved solving environmental puzzles, jumping across short distances, and mastering Even's slingshot. The puzzles aren't overly complicated, though they can offer a slight challenge, especially when stealth elements are incorporated.
There's about a half hour dedicated to setting up Lost in Random's narrative, but it's right before Even reaches the next city of Two-Town that the main gameplay mechanic takes center stage. Even is attacked by reanimated statues, at which point she's helped by a living die. (That's the singular of "dice," of course.) After striking enemies and picking up enough of a charge, Even can roll Dicey for a random boost. However, like any game, there are rules to how Dicey works. Even's arsenal comes from her deck of cards, which can contain weapons, spells, health boosts, or any variety of effects that can alter the battle. Each card has a number attached to it and in order to use the card, Even must roll Dicey and have him land on that number or greater. In the case of the battle with the statues, the key was rolling a 1 or a 2 in order to activate Even's sword or bow. Weapons have a finite number of strikes or ammunition, so if it expires, Even must recharge in order to roll Dicey again.
Time slows down around Even as she rolls Dicey, which gives her sufficient time for a roll without enemies getting cheap shots in. However, that makes finding an opening to roll no less harrowing. In fact, it becomes even more intense during boss battles. In a pinch, it turns out that Even's slingshot is her most helpful tool in charging up a Dicey roll, as each enemy has certain weak points that will yield greater energy when hit.
Enemy encounters are broken up by the aforementioned puzzles and character encounters. Many character conversations will offer dialogue choices, but from what I could tell, these choices don't lead to anything particularly consequential. They appear to be there solely for fun. If nothing else, they offer some extra laughs, like when Even encounters her first merchant, who appears to be a living store that raises a lot of biological questions just by his very existence.
There appears to be more enchantment, whimsy, and mystery ahead in Lost in Random. While our demo ended with Two-Town, the lands of Threedom, Fourburg, and Fivetropolis await before ultimately reaching Odd and the Queen in Sixtopia. It should also be interesting to see how much Even's arsenal levels up and what sorts of deck-building possibilities are presented over the course of her adventure. Lost in Random is almost ready to begin its deadly game, as the game releases on PC, PS5, Xbox Series X, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch on September 10.
These impressions are based on an Origin demo provided by the publisher.