By Steve Baltimore / July 24th, 2018
|Title||The Lost Child|
|Release Date||June 19th|
|Genre||RPG / Dungeon Crawler|
|Platform||PlayStation 4 / Switch|
It’s been a long while since I played a good old fashioned Dungeon Crawler. When I saw the art style in The Lost Child I felt compelled to check it out, since it reminded me a lot of Shin Megami Tensei. I mean, if a Dungeon Crawler has good artwork you know you’re starting off on the right foot at least, but let’s see if this bad boy holds up!
The story follows Hayato Ibuki, a journalist at an occult magazine. He has recently been investigating a series of suicides that have taken place near Shinjuku Station. Suddenly a black shadow pushes him onto the tracks, but he is saved at the last second by a beautiful girl, Balucia. The girl then hands him a case. It’s like a Pandora’s box and shouldn’t be opened.
When the case is opened it contains the demonic gun Gangour. This gun is used to capture demons and fallen angels. You can then make them obey you as comrades in battle. Hayato soon meets up with self proclaimed angel, Lua. The two then set out to investigate the mysteries found in the country, and look for the beautiful girl Balucia. Little do they know they are about to get caught up in an epic battle between the forces of darkness and angels.
While the story here isn’t anything special, it is interesting enough to keep you exploring the dungeons just to see how it will all turn out. If you take time to do the side quests in the game it helps, since you get to see more personality out of the supporting cast of characters that run the shops. I feel like if they had just taken a little more time to flesh out some of the character motivations this would’ve been a much better tale overall.
The artwork in this game reminds me of a late 90’s or early 2000’s style anime. The colors aren’t as bright and the artwork isn’t as rounded as what we see these days. It almost reminds of you a classic Shin Megami Tensei game in a lot of respects. The dungeon designs are pretty basic most of the times. You have your standard city streets and caverns, but there are also some interesting ones like a shrine and the inside of a volcano.
The Lost Child features some upbeat battle themes and mysterious music for crawling in the dungeons. I did enjoy the soundtrack and it fits the tone of the game well. Unfortunately there is nothing that really makes it stand out. The game is almost fully voiced in both Japanese and English. I thought both casts did a pretty good job of bringing these characters to life, but the English actor for Ra was just a bit off to me. It wasn’t the voice that bothered me, but the lines felt like they were just being read instead of putting any sort of feeling into them.
Gameplay always starts at the office of the magazine you work for. Here you can do things like save, take on new assignments, and store items in your desk. After taking an assignment you can then go out to the map of Shinjuku. Here you can visit the various shops and the spa. Using the Spa will give you a perk that lasts until you enter and leave a dungeon. Once you’re set up you can move to the station or press R1 to see the world map.
Upon arriving in a new area, usually the best thing to do is talk to everyone there. If your assignment is there Lua will usually pop up and say the layer (dungeon) is open or point you in the direction of the next area you need to investigate. Most of the time you will need to revisit a person or head to one of the shops to end a quest. Then you can collect your reward back at the office from the bulletin board.
Dungeon crawling is a standard first person affair. Your map will fill out as you step on each square and of course traps are plentiful here. Not only are there plenty of traps to set your progress back, each dungeon is packed with puzzles. These include switch puzzles, light orb type puzzles and more. I think the developers used these to extend the time you spend in each dungeon since there only around eight dungeons in the entire game. This works to a point, since they do mix up the enemies you fight in each after a few floors. The problem is it makes them feel like they drag on forever. I believe this would’ve been better had they cut back on the puzzles a bit and just made more dungeons to explore. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
I thought the combat was probably the best part of this game. During battles you can use the Gangour to capture your foes and make them your allies. Think of this like Pokémon but with demons! The way you capture them is simple, just use an Astral Burst attack during battle. This is a special attack where you load the Gangour with various bullet types. These bullets mostly have elemental properties but there are a few special ones you can find along the way. If you defeat an enemy with this attack they will then become your loyal ally. Just keep an eye on the Burst Gauge at the top of screen. This will charge as your party attacks and the more filled it is, the better your Astral Burst will be. Just be sure not to overfill it or you won’t be able to shoot until the gun cools off.
In order to use your newly collected allies you will first have to purify them. This is done with karma. There are three different types of karma in the game and you will acquire all three by simply defeating enemies. Once purified you can continue spending karma to level them up. Once they reach a certain level they can be evolved into a stronger form, but you will need some special items to make this happen. You can snag these from the random gold chests dropped in each dungeon, but be leery of the the traps. The demons and fallen angel evolutions are mostly just pallete swaps, but they will allow you access to better special moves. Special moves are not learned by gaining levels but randomly in battle. You can use an item to increase the odds of this happening, but it still seemed pretty random to me.
While your otherworldly allies do not use equipment, Hayato and Lau most certainly do. You will find them scattered about the dungeon and from random chest drops from battles. You will need to pay close attention when setting up your gear, because while some of it may provide great attack or defense boosts it could have serious drawbacks. These include lowering your hit rate or taking away a good chunk of your HP. Fear not though, even if a piece of equipment is junk Banba at the camera store can synth it with something you have that is better to build its attack or defense. He can also identify pieces of equipment you find and you will find tons of these during the course of the game.
The Lost Child isn’t bad game, but I don’t really think I would call it a great game either. This one is very middle of the road and basic. I did have fun collecting all the different types of enemies, and the story is kinda interesting. There is really just nothing here that makes this one stand out. You’ll get a solid 40 hours of gameplay here and a bonus 100 level dungeon after completing the story. If you’re a fan of Dungeon Crawlers and you need to scratch that itch this would probably get the job done at its $49.99 price tag. Just go don’t go into it expecting the next evolution of the genre.
Game provided by the publisher for review purposes.
CrimDemons'LovecraftNIS AmericaThe Lost Child