Thank you Atlus for sending us this game to review!
An evil villain aptly named "The End" is threatening to nuke the planet in thirteen days unless the uniquely gifted SEALED team can stop him in time. Each member of the team has a special ability that can make them a force to be reckoned with in battle. Some members can wield elements like fire, ice, and lightning while others can teleport, mimic, heal, or use deadly magnetic energy. It's great to have such powerful people in your team. The catch is that several of them are traitors who will eventually turn against you. Can you identify and eliminate them in time?
The SEALED team has been trapped in a mysterious tower with no memory of how they got there. Their common goal is to reach the top and take out The End. In order to ascend the tower, a member of the team has to be terminated. Sadly, there is no other way. On the bright side, their abilities are not lost and can be given to another person in the group.
Like many turn-based tactical RPGs, the characters have a skill tree and inventory slots to augment their abilities and boost attributes such as health, movement, vitality, etc. Instead of mana and magic, each character can use their gift if they have enough gift points and sanity to spare. A character temporarily loses some of their sanity when they use a gift or defer their turn to another team member. If a character's sanity is depleted, they will go berserk and strike friends and foes with tremendous power. This condition will last a couple of turns, but the remaining teammates will be put into a fear state that negatively affects their stats.
Teamwork is crucial for survival, even if there may be a randomly picked traitor close by. When allies and enemies are near each other when making a turn-based attack, the nearby ally (or enemy) will get to attack as well. Attacks from behind are more powerful. Some area attacks can harm allies as well so this must be taken into consideration when performing these skills. As the levels increase in difficulty the enemies get more hit points and deadlier foes are introduced in battle. If you find yourself getting your butt kicked in a mission, you can replay cleared ones to power up and earn more money to buy equipment upgrades.
Another reason to replay missions is to determine if a traitor is in your group. After a successful battle, the character you play, Sho, has the ability to hear the thoughts of his teammates. If the thoughts appear in red, then someone in the group may be a traitor. Sometimes there will be multiple potential traitors and you have to replay battles with a slightly different configuration to weed out the turncoat. When you return to base a teammate or two will approach you to see if you know who the traitor may be. If it is the traitor themselves asking, you may want to say you don't know or reveal the identity of another traitor instead. The team relies on your feedback when casting votes to kill off a traitor to ascend the tower. Allies that contribute the most in battle get two votes in the process.
I did experience a few game crashes while I was at the base talking to my comrades. It wasn't a particular conversation that triggered it and it happened randomly. Fortunately, saving the game can be done at anytime with the exception of a forced save before entering the room of judgement to eliminate a teammate.
Keeping track of battle configurations and potential traitors can be a daunting task. Fortunately, there is a vision management area that shows you the battle/traitor results and the estimated judgment vote outcome. In this area, you also have the ability to flag and mark potential turn coats for your own record keeping.
Once you discover the identities of the traitors, you can focus more on building stronger bonds with your true allies. As you converse with and establish friendships with your teammates, character specific missions may become available. You may also find out weird facts like the color of a teammate's underwear and that one of them is a virgin.
The levels and enemies offer a fair amount of variety and the difficulty significantly ramps up about half way through the game. Each level is ranked between one and eight stars. At the end of the battle a letter grade is assigned depending on the number of turns taken and the battle performance of the team. I tried to have all of levels ranked at S or A. That became harder to do around the five star mark where I was happy to get a D. It should be noted that unused teammates will still earn experience even when they are not deployed on the battlefield.
The levels will not blow you away aesthetically, but they do change things up a bit. Some of the gift moves provide some eye candy though. The character's facial expressions change and convey a lot of emotion in their dialogue boxes.
Unfortunately, only key story sequences are fully voice acted. In these instances, the voice acting is extremely well done. However it is overshadowed by the generic phrases used throughout the majority of the game. Some the phrases used are laced with profanity (d*mn, sh*t, b*stard) and taking our Lord's name in vain. As an anime lover, I really liked the intro song.
There's much to like about Lost Dimension; the battle system is fun and the turncoat aspect adds a nice twist as well. The characters are interesting and I was sad to see some of them go. Even with some of the rough edges, I enjoyed my time in this twisted tower.