Lost Dimension is one of those rare games that encourages you to get to know your NPC compatriots, while at the same time pressuring you to think carefully about whom you decide to buddy up with. Atlus’ upcoming scifi RPG puts party management at the forefront of its gameplay, and ties all of its systems back to the decisions you make about your compatriots.
If you’re new to Lost Dimension, check out my initial preview here, which explains more about its story, combat, and Gifts system (note that while I mentioned that Deferring replenishes Sanity, it’s actually Waiting that does so). The game has a way of drawing you into its narrative and gameplay fairly seamlessly, building upon traditional JRPG tropes while bringing its own innovations to the table.
Lost Dimension’s Judgement and Vision systems are two of the more interesting RPG features I’ve seen in a while, and they tie into the game’s overarching story nicely. The game’s main antagonist, The End, has created a gigantic structure called The Pillar, which your party has to traverse to save the world. Each member of your group, which is referred to collectively as SEALED, has her/his own unique skillset and character progression tree, with specific roles in combat.
These NPCs all have iconic personalities that you’ll want to get to know through talking to them from the game’s main hub inside The Pillar, and you’ll be given the opportunity to advance your relationships with them through dialogue and combat. If that sounds similar to a lot of RPGs out there, it should - but there’s a catch. At each level of The Pillar (I like to think of them as Acts of the story), there will be a traitor in SEALED, requiring you to use Vision and Judgement to weed them out.
Lost Dimension’s main character, Sho Kasugai, is gifted with a precognitive ability called Vision, which gives him a glimpse of the future and insight into the thoughts of his party members. In gameplay terms, this means that he’s periodically able to pick out traitorous intent from the jumble of thoughts that he “hears” from his compatriots, and use them to help determine how to proceed with Judgement. The game’s Vision system allows you to look at your party’s Trust levels, Battle Rankings, and Vision History (which essentially logs the traitorous thoughts you’ve seen in cutscenes), along with a Judgment-related readout called the Vote Forecast.
Before proceeding to the next level of The Pillar, the members of SEALED will be required to determine who is the traitor for the current level, which is a bit like voting people off of the island (Survivor joke: tick). You’ll enter a sealed (party name joke: tick) room and vote, along with your NPC team members, for whom you think is the traitor, requiring your deductive reasoning and the trust levels of your party to move the decision in the right direction. Based on these factors, you might guess correctly, or you might not.
The Judgement process is what makes Lost Dimension’s Vision system so important. The Battle Rankings, for example, determine how many votes each characters get, in that the three characters (including Sho) who have the highest Battle Results get two votes, while the rest get one. This feature will influence whom you take into battle and how you utilize their skills, as you can only have six people in a combat mission at a time (out of an initial total of eleven). Additionally, the Vote Forecast will give you an idea of who SEALED is going to vote for in the next Judgement.
Lost Dimension’s Vision and Judgement systems lend an already interesting game a new layer of complexity that seems to have been well-conceived within the larger narrative and gameplay framework. I’m looking forward to diving deeper and seeing how they play out in the rest of the story.
Lost Dimension releases on PS3 and PS Vita on July 28.