So, I’ll be honest here. The Lost Child will most likely be a “love it or hate it” game. I say this because the game has an “older” dungeon crawler vibe mixed with a visual novel.
The Lost Child is brought to us by the creator of El Shaddai. A game that I myself haven’t personally had the chance to play, but a game that seems to be revered by fans. The director of both TLC and ES seems to put a lot of love and hard work into the titles he releases.
In The Lost Child, you play as Hayato Ibuki, a journalist for a news outlet that focuses on the paranormal and occult. The game has you exploring Japan and investigating these weird phenomenons that seem to be plaguing the country. Along your journey, you encounter many angels and demons as well as many eclectic humans. The Lost Child really shines in the story department. I was hooked on the game as soon as it started up. You get thrown right into action pretty much as soon as the opening cutscene is finished
Visually, The Lost Child isn’t anything groundbreaking, the game is made up of a static over world, in which you can choose your next location to visit, in each location there are silhouettes of people that you can interact with. When interacting with anyone in the game, their character’s art will be shown front and centre. You are really able to discern between who is an important character based on how they look, which is fairly normal in a game like this.
The Lost Child allows you to play through the game in either Japanese or English, with English subtitles. I know a lot of people tend to go the Japanese VO route, but I’ve gotta say, the English voice actors really did a great job here. Sure, there were some instances of cheesy delivery, but for the most part, the English actors were great, they showed a lot of emotion and kept me interested during cutscenes and conversations that were voiced.
Aside from the gripping story, and interesting conversations that you get to have in the game, the combat and exploration/dungeon crawling didn’t really grip me all that much. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spoiled by other games in the genre, but staring at barely moving sprites, and watching simple slice attacks play out didn’t leave me feeling as immersed as I would have liked.
The battle system isn’t all boring though, there are quite a few cool mechanics sprinkled in such as the Astral Burst, which you use to capture foes and convert them into Party Members. You unlock different Astral Bursts as you progress through the game, each doing different things, such as a Physical based, and Magical based one. You have to use them to capture different enemies accordingly. Another relatively cool mechanic is the Gangour, which allows you to sub out Party Members for ones that you have set in your reserve. This allows you to switch characters depending on what enemies you are fighting. Each member in your party has an eye on their portrait, the colour of said eye determines which member is most likely to be attacked by an opposing foe, you can better plan your turns with this mechanic.
The dungeons, or layers, as they’re referred to in this game, do a great job of crafting a claustrophobic atmosphere. Almost every layer that I entered, I felt uneasy. I felt like something could be waiting for me around every turn, and most of the time, there was! The random battles here are incredibly frequent. The Lost Child has a fairly unique mechanic which I dubbed the Karma Mechanic. There are three Karma’s in the game, Good, Neutral, and Bad. You use the Karma to bring new Astral’s to life so you can use them in your party, level up Astrals, revive fallen Astrals, and more. The Karma system feels both like a blessing, and a hindrance. It seems pointless to have to revive the Astrals using Karma every time they die. On the other hand, it can be fairly useful if you’re stuck on a particularly hard Layer and need a quick boost to level up your party.
So, all in all, the Lost Child is quite a good game, with a story that will keep you interested, and coming back for more. The voice acting is done well, as are the conversations that you get to have. I just wish the entire game was voiced. With the Karma mechanic, you’re able to boost your characters to a higher level if need be. The Layer’s do get a bit tiresome, but I kind of looked at the fighting/Astral capturing as a side piece. The most interesting thing about this game was the story. For $49.99, the game definitely cuts a few corners in some aspects, but makes up for it in the story, dialogue, and choices that you get to make.