Lost in Random is a game that’s flown under the radar this month, but it’s bursting with personality and an aesthetic that honestly blew my mind.
If you’re somebody who enjoys the comedy-horror tones of films like Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas, or games like Alice: Madness Returns and MediEvil, you’ll want to put Lost in Random on your wishlist. It owes a lot to Tim Burton with its spindly, Nightmare-style towns, but the adventure carves out its own identity with stop-motion animation and a whimsical, slightly horrifying narrative.
Made by the makers of Fe, you play as Even, a young girl living in a dystopia where everyone is assigned a class based on the roll of a dice. This determines everyone’s position in society, where they live, and who they can interact with.
When Even’s sister Odd is given the ‘Sixer’ ranking and forcibly torn from her parents, Even sets out through Random’s number-themed districts to save her sister and topple the Queen. Along the way, she discovers an ancient living dice named Dicey and together, they take on the forces of evil.
From its opening moments, Lost in Random pops.
It’s rare to see a game so sure of its visual identity, but every locale you explore is packed to the brim with hidden secrets, colourful characters and unique challenges that make taking your time an absolute joy. The style is phenomenal, and so well-thought-out that every puzzle piece just fits.
Around one corner, you may find a spooky, bug-eyed fox looking to tempt you away from your chosen path:
In another, you might find a living store whose body is made of a spooky cupboard:
In the realm of twos, you’ll find a bunch of citizens with dual personalities at war with each other, one of whom is the ginormous Mayor. His double, Royam, is a scarecrow with a vendetta who really, really wants to rhyme:
His boss fight is particularly good, and sees Even and Dicey team up to smash Royam’s crystals and topple the giant in a game of rhyme and swords.
Combat in Lost in Random is particularly intriguing here, because it works so well with the world of the game. Rather than the usual ‘grab sword / attack with sword’ system, Even actually needs to roll Dicey to determine what weapons and attacks she can use at any given moment — and to unlock Dicey, she needs to smash crystals that grow on enemies.
In Random, the primary guiding rule is that ‘random rules’ — this means you have to roll Dicey to draw cards that actually unlock your weapons. Until you have a useable weapon, you need to keep shooting at crystals and rolling Dicey to unlock your most powerful cards.
It’s a complicated system, and one that makes battles a little more frantic than they need to be, but it suits the world. Sometimes, you get a bum hand and you can’t actually attack your enemy. Other times, you get a clean sweep and can unlock the biggest and most powerful weapons in the game.
As you progress in the game, Dicey will get more ‘pips’ for its surface, unlocking higher powered weapons and attacks which you can equip in your card deck — and you’ll want to build this up as you go.
On top of making combat intricate and very interesting, the card-based system also encourages wider exploration. The further you travel, the more coins you’ll find, and the more cards you can gather. Completing special requests for villagers will also unlock special cards and build your strength in battle.
As the world of Lost in Random gets weirder and wilder and the colours get more vibrant and spooky, you’ll need every trick in the deck to keep Even and Dicey alive. The game wants you to explore, and you should.
The good news is the entire journey is absolutely worth it, and you’ll find plenty to fall in love with as you traipse through dice-filled graveyards, giant offices, suspended towns and living board games.
Lost in Random boasts a phenomenal art direction, and it was an absolute pleasure to get lost in its weird and wonderful worlds. Don’t overlook this brilliant little gem.