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Don't Lose Out on This!

The Lost is an RPG about the strife between tribesmen and a religious cult in a desert region. It features a lot of what you may expect from your average RPG, but has a unique spin on a few things that helps it stand out as its own game. This review is of the demo, so the game has more to come and things are subject to change. Even so, it shows great promise in what’s already there.

Let’s Talk About Graphics!

It seems to be a mix of custom artwork and MV RTP, though I don’t know for sure. I’m not certain where all the resources come from since I’m not super-familiar with MV and I didn’t recognize most of it. Some things are more apparently RPG Maker’s style while others appear to be unique. Nothing clashes or stands out and the art quality is high, so the game is visually sound overall.

Let’s Talk About Audio!

More RTP and maybe other sources; again, not super-familiar with MV, but I recognized a lot of the SFX from other projects. BGMs were mostly new to me, but there were a couple tracks I remembered from previous RM games I’ve played. I don’t know where it all came from, but I didn’t notice any commercial songs and it all fit the style just fine. The audio is in good shape and nothing feels out of place.

Let’s Talk About Writing!

The game has an interesting story so far. The introduction sequence throws you right into the action as you join tribe leader Kaan in a war effort against an attacking army. We’re guided through the game mechanics as we learn more about the situation. After a particularly climactic moment, we’re brought back to before the war to see how the whole mess started. Our main character is Ragno, the champion of his tribe, though still under Kaan and somewhat aloof in spite of his status. He’s tasked with repairing a bridge, which should’ve been easy, but one thing leads to another (as they often do in games like these). The story gradually develops into Ragno needing to gather recruits in preparation for the cultists’ assault as they stage a crusade in the name of The Glowing Fire.

Progression is relatively mission-based as you visit other tribes depending on what you need to do. The game features a lot of characters, so only some of them are people you really get to know. This is partially due to the recruitment process since every member of your group is a character themselves. It’s not quite on the scale of a Suikoden game (yet?), but most of the people you meet show some semblance of personality. There simply isn’t enough room for all of them to develop. However, it helps that several of them are part of side quests where they get involved, so you can get a feel for what they’re like before they become just another face in the crowd.

Dialogue is mostly all right. There are some minor English-2nd-language issues, but it doesn’t suffer from it very much. The majority of the troubles I noticed were with punctuation, as commas and question marks are often misused (or unused). There were occasional typos as well, but the developer was watching my playthrough and was able to fix what I pointed out. Even so, they will definitely want a proofreader so the full version can avoid these issues. Apart from needing spruced up, the dialogue is effective and feels natural, so it has it where it counts and only the technical side of it needs improved.

There’s quite a bit of world building to find and the game has a setting all its own. Some of it is part of the main quest, but you can often find history and lore through side quests that help flesh out the world and its constituent parts. That said, some of it is also missable; sometimes permanently. If a character ever tells you they’ll leave if you continue on without them, you better believe it! This irked me a bit when I failed to complete a side event because I was trying to do something else first, then was unable to reinitiate the quest and lost out on some story/exploration. It’s not all bad, though, as some of the story depends on your choices. The course of events can change at key moments, and the game kindly lets you know if your decision will make things easier or harder. This adds variety to the story and some replayability to the game as well. In a way, it’s sad that you can’t see it all the first time, but I much prefer choice-based outcomes to missing things by accident.

Let’s Talk About Gameplay!

It’s a typical RPG. You explore maps, fight monsters, find treasures, etc. While the gameplay loop follows a pretty standard formula, it’s the combat system where this game stands out. Battle isn’t nearly as straightforward as in many other games, and you must learn to make the most of your turns to fight effectively.

Basically, every unit on the battlefield is occupying one of four positions: Attacker, Defender, Magician, or Support. These positions are referred to as rows, with Attacker in front and Support in back. Each row has its own perks and drawbacks, and you can assign which rows you want your party members in. Each one generally has a row they function best in, so it’s wise to set up your party in advance and put their abilities to good use. Enemy units also adhere to this row system, and you can see from icons above their heads which position they occupy.

But it doesn’t stop there. Many skills in battle affect the positioning of units. Any character can spend a turn moving forward or back one row, but some have abilities that let them force another unit into a position of their choosing. You can relocate an ally to another row if needed, or lure an enemy into a row that is less advantageous for them. Some foes can also force your heroes around, so you have to be conscious of what rows people are in all the time and do what works best for your strategy.

Beyond just their placement, certain actions are only available in certain rows. For example, only Defenders can use the Defend command. Only Support can use certain items, and their healing items have double the effect. Only Magicians can cast spells, and some attacking skills can only be used while in the Attacker row. Other attack skills are tied to certain weapon types, and you can swap weapons mid-battle to change which skills are available to you. Further complicating this are skill cooldowns. Anytime you use an ability (even items), that option is put on a cooldown and cannot be used again until you’ve taken enough actions to refresh it. This might sound like a pain, but any character can take multiple actions on their turn, as only certain actions will end their turn.

If you use a skill, spell, or do a normal attack, that’s it for your turn. However, if you use an item or a TP skill, it counts as an action for cooldowns, but you can still do more as well. Turn order is determined by a super-quick ATB that halts while you’re deciding, and it advances a tiny bit between free actions, but for the most part, you can spend a hero’s turn taking as many actions as are available to you. One strategy is to wear out your cooldowns with basic attacks while saving up TP then launch a massive barrage of TP skills and item uses all in a single hero’s turn. Each hero has their own personal cooldowns, so the actions of other characters will not reduce their timers. It creates a very dynamic system where you can’t really spam anything and your choices in combat feel important as you must try to fight effectively. The game is not afraid to be rough with you, either. If you don’t take battles seriously, you aren’t going to get far.

Outside of combat, the gameplay is more of the usual RPG-type stuff...mostly. There are a number of minigames you can find that are handled in-engine and help to spice up the gameplay. Side events and points of interest usually have a little pop-up to draw your attention. It’s subtle, but effective and really helps cut down on the tedium of trying to find things. Although not present in the demo I played, there are resources you can use to craft your base as you amass your army, so you’ll be able to customize it in certain ways. If nothing else, the resources make good sale fodder as well.

This game does not use random encounters, so it’s sometimes a good idea to fight what’s available to you because battle rewards are finite. There’s plenty around to get by with, but item and equipment costs are steep enough that you can’t just buy whatever you want all the time. Quests are a good source of revenue, but they’re also a resource draw depending on how tough they are. On the subject of quests, the game offers a log of side events that give you descriptions and help to keep track of them. It even tells you how many successes or failures there were.

Let’s Wrap This Up...

The Lost is a traditional RPG in a sense, but its unique setting and clever mechanics give it an identity of its own. There’s a lot of depth to the gameplay and the story is interesting enough to keep you moving along. It’s uncertain when the full version will be ready and the demo I played was rough around the edges, but I think it has a lot of potential to be a solid game when it’s finished.

I’m rating this N/A since it’s still in development, but if it wasn’t, I’d give it a...

3.5/5 A great game in the making that just needs some cleaning up.


"Dammit, Kael..."

Posts

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Thank you very much! And especially for playing through the rest of the game, it gave me many insights in what to add/change.

I just want to point out for the readers that many things have been changed since the start of this playthrough. Even the battle mechanics have been tweaked considerably.

I hope all of you reading this will become excited and interested in the product.

Next year I will be starting the promotion of the game in several stages as we draw closer to the release at (hopefully) the end of 2021/beginning of 2022!
Great review Hali, as usual! I should try the updated version... but I am tempted to wait for the full game release in order to replay it and edit my review (coicidentally my rating was the same mentioned here). In any case good one, I guess this game is getting better and better.
I would recommend waiting longer. I'm currently pumping out a lot of new content together with lots of polish.

Story feels, grammar fixes, smoothening of gameplay, tweaking of mechanics, new content, and many other things will really make it worthwile.

I hope to release a finished beta version of the full game near the summer of 2021 for testing purposes.

You guys (testers, feedbackers, revieuwers, etc.) really made this game into what it eventually will be!
halibabica
RMN's Official Reviewmonger
13543
Feel free to ask for a revised opinion once it's complete! Although you will have to wait in the queue again...
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