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The Lost Child

Posted by GG Goblin On July - 10 - 2018

A combination of visual novel, dungeon crawler and Poke… Hang on, what?

 
I remember playing and reviewing Ignition’s El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron back in 2011 on Xbox360. It was a very pretty action game with a heavy biblical tone that was more than a little confusing. Still, while the details are a bit hazy, the game made an impression.

 
lostchild1 (Copy)

 
Jump forward nearly seven years and Sawaki Takeyasu returns with a very different beast. The Lost Child, from Kadokawa Games, swaps action for turn-based combat in a first-person dungeon crawler. The story is still a little confusing, and the appearance of characters from El Shaddai will be all but lost on most current gamers, but that doesn’t really matter as once you start catching ‘em all, well, we all know how that turns out.

 
The Lost Child starts out much like any other visual novel, with large portraits of the characters and a big part of the screen dedicated to dialogue. This aspect of the game works perfectly fine, but the players interest in the visual novel side of things is directly linked to how much they enjoy the story, and how easily they can follow it. Let me tell you, it is quite tricky. For many, the story and the visual novel gameplay will simply be a vehicle that moves the player from one dungeon to the next. It is quite easy to just gloss over whatever is going on and get back into the action, but it may still help to know at least what the story is about.

 
Hayato is a journalist that happens to work for an occult magazine, and as such is sent out to investigate strange incidents. While looking into a series of mysterious suicides, Hayato is saved from becoming the next victim and then given a strange device called the Gangour which can trap and purify mystical creatures. Then an angel called Lua turns up, Hayato discovers he is “The Chosen One” and has to embark on a mission from Heaven. Yeah, it really is that cheesy.

 
Anyway, the player will be given cases to investigate, head to the area and then chat with some odd characters before heading to the dungeons and getting to the meat of this game. The dungeons, known as Layers in the game, are multi-level mazes that the player will explore from a first-person view, in a decidedly old-school style. By this I mean moving slowly along corridors before reaching the end and turning to face the next direction. This will continue until the player finds the stairs to the next level, or whatever they are looking for. Thankfully, the game maps the mazes automatically and there are even some ways to automatically reach a location to speed things up.

 
lostchild2 (Copy)

 
The problem with the exploration is that the settings are so boring. Corridor after corridor of the same lifeless bricks, occasionally broken up by an encounter or a puzzle. It really is very dull. The puzzles are not exactly challenging, occasionally requiring nothing more than busywork, but they do break the monotony of the exploring a little bit. Fortunately, the combat encounters break the boredom much more successfully.

 
Combat is a turn-based affair featuring Hayato and his party picking their attacks or actions and then allowing the opponent to have their turn. There is not a huge amount of animation to the combat, but it is quite satisfyingly laid out and easy to grasp. The group is made up of Hayato and Lua, along with three Astrals, the name given to the mystical creatures that they have to fight. But how do the Astrals come to join Hayato’s team? I am glad you asked…

 
One word – Pokémon. Okay, that may be a bit of a simplification, but the similarities are startling. Remember that strange device, the Gangour? Turns out that this is a heavenly Astral capturing gun. There will be a meter on the screen that slowly fills as the player attacks Astrals, and this meter is linked to the Gangour through a special move that can be used to essentially capture the opposing Astral and then purify it, making it usable as part of Hayato’s team. It can also be used as a kick-ass weapon, which is also handy. There is a little timing involved, as using it incorrectly will take it out of rotation for a short time, but it is nothing too difficult.

 
There are an absolute shed load of Astrals to collect, although only three can be in the team at a time, and they can be improved and evolved. Hayato and Lua both level up as normal, using experience. However, the player will gather three different types of Karma as they play the game, both from encounters and dialogue choices, and this Karma is used to level up the Astrals. Once they reach their highest level, they can be evolved, which usually requires a difficult to come by item, and drop back to level one to start the journey again. New skills are not awarded through levelling up, but rather given randomly during encounters, further tweaking and improving these battle companions. For players who enjoy Pokémon-style capturing and levelling up, there is certainly plenty of content here to keep them going for a fair while.

 
lostchild3 (Copy)

 
However, gotta catch ‘em all is not going to be enough for most players to invest time in The Lost Child. The combat is quite fun, and sure there is something quite compelling about building a team of Astrals and levelling them up. But The story is confusing and forgettable, and the exploration is just dull. There is nothing broken here, but The Lost Child could have been so much more.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 



 

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