LOST EPIC – PC (P)review

LOST EPIC – PC (P)review
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Genre: Anime souls-like action RPG
Developer: oneoreight, Team EARTHWARS
Publisher: oneoreight
Release Date: June 5th, 2021
Edited by AlexKnight2005

On the surface, LOST EPIC appears to check all these boxes. This is the second game launched by Team EARTHWARS and oneoreight on Steam, following EARTH’S DAWN. No, I’m not shouting; both games are stylized that way. Both companies appear to be based in Japan, so the game has a distinctly Japanese feel is unsurprising.

You play as a so-called chosen knight that has to fight for humankind’s survival against beings known as the Holy Ones and the New Gods. A short intro scene teaches you the controls before you then get to pick your character’s appearance and voice. Interestingly, the game allows you to mix and match girl voices with male bodies and vice-versa.

Following that, you get into the game proper. It plays out like a 2D platforming Metroidvania. At first, the map layout starts out fairly linear but gradually branches out into multiple paths filled with all sorts of differing rooms, enemies, and mechanics.

LOST EPIC has also been billed in some quarters as a Souls-like, and after playing it for a while, the comparison is not unfounded. Most of the time, you can’t simply button mash your way to victory. All the enemies have varying attack patterns to learn. The best way to deal with them (without powering up your character, anyway) is typically a dance of attacking and dodging their attacks, compounded by the fact that you have a limited stamina gauge. This also applies to the minibosses and bosses, even more so, as they are, of course, far more challenging and a whole lot tankier as well. They each have their own variety of item drops, which can be used to craft more items later on.

Combat is also the standard melee-based fare, with your character being assigned a starter sword during the tutorial. It is not until slightly later into the game that you get the chance at a ranged weapon drop from some enemies. Even then, they won’t be your primary weapon for a while due to a mechanic called Divine Skills. Some weapons will have an associated Divine Skill, which you can equip in the menu; once you use a skill long enough to gain proficiency with it, you will permanently have access to it even if you unequip or upgrade your weapon.

This is also married to a rather sprawling skill tree that spans multiple book pages. You have to level your character up to earn skill points by defeating the enemies, which drop a currency called Anima. That is then used at God Statues to level up your character, with higher levels requiring larger amounts of Anima. From there, you are free to spend those points however you wish. Not all of the tree can be learned just from that, though; there are special abilities requiring you to visit monuments or complete quests to acquire.

The similarities to Dark Souls do not stop there. Anima in itself is also the main currency you have to worry about. You use it for pretty much everything: besides leveling up, you also end up using it for crafting, enhancing weapons, and upgrading your weapons. Deaths can prove to be rather costly; dying will make you drop all the Anima you have on hand where you died. You can, of course, journey to get it back, but you must not die again before reaching that point, or that will be just lost.

Speaking of crafting, LOST EPIC also likewise features such a system, which you can only access by speaking to the helpers at some specific God Statues. You have to manually select the ingredients you want to use when crafting — good for using a slightly more special version of an ingredient to imbue the resultant item with more powerful properties. Still, when every single item you have that can be used is the exact same, it feels redundant and clunky. An auto-fill quota option would be useful in such cases.

Overall, the combat does feel rather fun and challenging, having to carefully strategize on how to best deal with the individual enemies. Sometimes the difficulty does get rather challenging, especially for players with slower reflexes. As my own reflexes wane with age, I find it gradually harder to ascertain what attack an enemy might do next and then react appropriately. A certain type of monster attack can be countered by using a Divine Skill at the right time, but I more often than not miss the timing; unfortunately — it is on the tighter end of things.

I haven’t mentioned this thus far, but this is an Early Access game. With only two of the six planned regions in the game thus far, only a certain variety of enemies are allocated to each region. After a while of exploring in a region, it does seem to lack some variety. Enemies seem to get slightly more powerful the further you progress, but they are still otherwise the same. With its water-themed style, the second region was one where I struggled with. Large sections of being completely underwater with seemingly no way to surface for air make it a far harder jump than the first region.

All of this is wrapped up in a package with a high level of polish…mostly. The character designs are gorgeous, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the illustrator is Namie of Fate/Grand Order, Azur Lane, and Arknights fame. The menus and animations are superfluid and smooth. The soundtrack, at times, can feel rather repetitive but is otherwise pleasant and thematically appropriate to listen to. As for the voiceovers, most of the dialogue is voiced in Japanese with English subtitles, but I found it really grating that there was a lack of variation with the voice acting of your own character. Every single jump is paired with the exact same grunt, and every single attack is paired with the same voice line in a specific tone, and so on.

The last negative point I have is a rather odd one. Somehow, one way or another, LOST EPIC features a ‘multiplayer’ system where you get an item to create a ‘Support Signal’ that lets up to two players assist you…for one map. Apparently, the concept is not meant to be a full-blown online co-op mode, rather just for assistance on a tough combat or two, but it is still kind of bizarre to structure the mechanic in that fashion; it’s almost like it isn’t even there. During my time spent playtesting, I could not find any random player needing help, and my efforts to test it outdrew a blank.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous character designs.
  • Challenging combat.
  • Full-blown looting and item-crafting system.
  • Almost fully-voiced.
  • Highly polished.

Your mileage may vary:

  • This game is deceptively challenging, far more than it seems.

Cons:

  • Early access — not content-complete.
  • Lack of variation in voice acting.
  • A bizarre multiplayer mechanic that is unpopulated.
  • Crafting can feel clunky.

Fans of Souls-likes may have fun with this one for the price of $19.99 (which will be raised at the end of Early Access). However, for the casual gamer, don’t be fooled by its cutesy exterior; this game is far harder than it looks. The game might only really be about ⅓ complete, but the two regions currently in the game are decently challenging to get through, and there is some grind in attempting to craft the best gear for your character.

Of course, the alternative would be to wait until all regions are in and the game is out of Early Access, which is estimated to take from 6 months to a year after release. The price will be increased when that happens, however.