Posted by Al
Thu, 13th Jul 2017
This week we’re getting closer than ever to a Steam release of Lost Dimension. Just a few middleware-related issues are between us and the finish line, so those of you who are excited for the game can feel justified in getting even more excited in the coming weeks. :)
So far in this series of blog posts on the game I’ve broken down all the characters, the vision system and the battle system in general terms. So, this week I thought I’d try and round everything up and give you my Top 5 favourite things about Lost Dimension. So, without further ado, here goes!
1) Treacherous Traitors!
Probably the best-known feature in Lost Dimension and clearly one of its coolest aspects is the traitor system. On every floor of The End’s otherworldly tower you’ll have to figure out which of the people in your party is the traitor. To begin with you’ve no idea who it is, but by mixing and matching your party in battle and listening to the voice that Sho hears in the post-battle Vision sequence, you can use the process of elimination, a handy colouration scheme and your own logic to discern the villain.
If you’ve got to this point, you’d better hope you picked the correct traitor.
You can read more about this in my previous post on the subject but needless to say it’s a standout feature. The best part is that for every playthrough after your first, the traitor on each floor is randomised, so you’ll never get comfortable with a fixed party. Heck, it doesn’t even matter if you erase the right person or not, the game rolls with it and you must carry on regardless!
2) Deferring Deadliness
Seeing as I was just talking about how I love being sort-of-forced to use the other characters, now’s a good time to talk about deferring. Not only are you free to defer to another character you’ve already used to give them a second turn, but once you have the proper Materia, you can also gain a one-off usage of what I call ‘Crossover-Materia’ gifts.
Another day, another defer.
These are the gifts that you can only use in regular battle once a character has been Erased in the Judgment room and you’ve given their Materia to a compatible character. However, by deferring to the compatible character you can use crossover Materia Gifts for that turn only, getting access to powerful techniques you’d normally be unable to use.
3) Mix n’ Match Materia
Again, the previous point touches on this, but in general I love how levelling up your Gifts gains access to extra Materia as you progress through the game and that how – once the traitorous characters have been erased – those Materia aren’t lost forever. Simply use the Gifts menu and you can transfer your erased characters’ Materia to their teammates, often gaining powerful new crossover Gifts in the process.
Here you can see Yoko making use of one of Agito’s Materia skills. Nice knife!
Even if you don’t gain any brand-new gifts, you can use vacant Materia to give all a character’s basic gifts to any other teammate, creating powerful new character builds in the process. Want your tank to be able to walk through walls? Give a couple of Agito’s Materia to Marco and voila, you got your wish! Wish that Mana was a bit more mobile? Give her some of Nagi’s Materia and she’ll be zipping to the top of ledges in an instant!
4) Rewarding Storyline
On my first playthrough through of Lost Dimension I found the story very intriguing, but admittedly also a little confusing. I was unable to reconcile a few points like fully understanding The End’s motivations and why nobody really knew anyone else. All I can say is, that once I got all the characters’ trust in Sho to maximum, I fully grasped the story and my initial puzzlement was more than paid off.
I like baddies who look like baddies. And this guy is definitely bad.
I can’t really say a lot about this one (for obvious reasons!) but the way the true ending ties everything together was really rewarding and I also enjoyed finding the secret case files on my second (and even third!) times through the game. The DLC missions available are also a great way to get more info on things, although the game resolves things perfectly well on its own, if you’re not inclined to double-dip. :)
5) Tampering with the Turn Order
The last in my top 5 favourite things, and probably also my favourite-est! ;D I simply LOVE the flexibility Lost Dimension gives you to exploit turn-based combat in general. Assist attacks where you mob a tougher enemy and use the whole team to take it down in a single turn are just soooooo satisfying.
Another of Sho’s skills that passively messes with turn order is Premonition, which stops an enemy’s turn in its tracks. Win!
I can also praise how deferring to gain extra turns for your favourite characters, or those with strategic roles on some maps (hello Nagi and Agito!) always makes you feel like a genius strategist. But my favourite thing in terms of messing with the turn order is Sho’s highly-expensive but totally awesome ‘Daydream’ gift. Cast this, and as soon as your turn ends, it magically begins all over again. For the WHOLE team. Yeah, that’s amazing!
So, those are my favourite things about Lost Dimension. If you’re lucky enough to have played the game before in its PS3 or Vita incarnations, what are your favourite aspects of the game? Why not let us know in the comments below? :)
That’s it for this week but we’ll be back next week with more info on Lost Dimension and other Ghostlight stuff. Until then, have a great week! ^_^
(Blog written by Ghostlight Ltd.)
Posted by Al
Thu, 6th Jul 2017
Over the last several weeks we’ve been talking about various aspects of our upcoming port to Steam, Lost Dimension. We've outlined detailed breakdowns of each playable character and how the game’s intriguing Deep Vision system works, in order to help you find the traitors in your midst on each floor of the tower.
It occurred to me earlier this week, however, that we hadn’t yet discussed the game’s battle system in any depth, so that’s going to be the subject of today’s blog post. As an SRPG, Lost Dimension’s combat is turn-based with emphasis on planning, positioning and cooperation between team members.
So, without further ado, here’s a breakdown of the battle system in Lost Dimension – one that I have masses of experience with and still get a kick out of, even after finishing the game more than 20 times. :)
Movement: Before you begin a level in Lost Dimension you’re able to place your six combatants in pre-determined deployment points on the map. Often, they’ll be divided into teams separated by level geography and even cut off and alone, depending on the scenario of the level.
Here you can see how your lateral movement is restricted the further you are from your starting point.
Movement during levels is free-form within a movement circle centred on your location at the start of the turn, much like some other SRPGs from the last decade or so. The further you move from your point of origin the narrower an arc you’re allowed to move within. Being mindful of the MOV stat of your characters, their attack range and the range of their individual Gifts, will help you prioritise who to place where, before starting a level.
Attacking: During combat all playable characters have a standard attack that’s either close range for characters armed with knuckle dusters, knives and swords, or longer range for those armed with pistols, shotguns and machineguns, etc. Almost all these attacks focus on single enemies, apart from those using a machinegun, which provides the option of attacking inside a small arc, potentially hitting any enemies within it.
One of the few multi-target 'Sweep' attacks in action. Only two characters can do this.
Attacks have a small change to do critical damage, depending on your character’s stats and any Crit-boosting Apps you have equipped. You can also significantly boost your damage by attacking enemies from behind, but be mindful that this also applies when enemies are attacking your characters. I’m always careful to at least leave my guys ‘side-on’ to enemies, minimising potential damage at the end of my turn. :)
Using Gifts: As well as regular attacks, all of your characters have powerful Gifts they can use during combat. These gifts cost GP. Nope, not gold. Here, GP stands for Gift Points, to use and take away some of a character’s Sanity (or SAN) when they’re cast. Now’s a good time to mention that SAN is also lost when you’re attacked by enemies – even if the attack misses – or if you Defer your turn to an ally.
Gifts like Toya's Tempest can do mega damage to multiple oppenents, especially when positioned as a rear attack. No assists for this though, as it's an area attack...
Your Gifts are divided into four categories: Passive, Attack, Recovery and Support. Passive Gifts do not need to be cast, cost no GP or SAN and will be applied automatically (e.g. a higher chance of scoring critical hits). Attack Gifts are those that can be used to attack individual enemies or groups of enemies and will either centre around a particular enemy, the player character casting them, or will be able to be moved around the map, provided they stay within range of the caster. Some Attack gifts will also inflict status abnormalities on enemies, e.g. Sleep, Poison, Charm or Bind. Recovery gifts are used to heal your team members, or to restore their GP or SAN meters. Finally, Support Gifts are used to buff your characters or to de-buff your enemies, which can have extremely beneficial effects, especially against high-ranking enemies (I’m looking at you, Peragrande!)
Assists: If you have managed your team well they’ll have a good level or rapport with one another. When team members have a good relationship they’ll assist one another when making single-enemy attacks. If an ally is within attacking range of an enemy and you perform an attack on it, your ally will automatically provide an assist attack as well, even if they’ve already had their turn, or are yet to have it.
Here's an assist from Mana after another character attacked. Mana had already had her turn! Assists are great!! :)
This is important, because it means that very often you can press enemies en-masse and do greater damage with a single-enemy attack or Gift, than you might via an area attack. This is particularly worth considering when taking on the larger, harder-hitting enemies.
Deferring Turns (Materia): On the subject of assisting your teammates, you can also defer to allies: something that’s often even more useful during your turn. Move near to an ally who’s already taken their move and select ‘Defer’ and you’ll end your own turn immediately but let your teammate take their turn all over again. In this way, you can move individuals a lot further than they’d ever be able to go on their own and make good use of your favourite Gifts multiple times per turn, provided you keep a close eye on your ally’s GP and SAN stats – you don’t want them going berserk near any of their pals!
Here, George has no range to attack, so he's Deferring to Toya, who gets a chance to do further damage this turn.
Deferring is one of my favourite things about Lost Dimension, especially as it can be exploited using certain Gifts – like Sho’s awesome ‘Daydream’ – to lay the smackdown on your enemies before they’ve even had the chance to take a turn. Skilful use can see you take on levels you’d normally be crushed in, helping you level up your team even more quickly. :)
Using Items: Lost Dimension features a host of items in the finest tradition of SRPGs – you can boost health and your GP and SAN stats, restore status abnormalities and – perhaps my favourite – return berserk teammates to normality before they take on the rest of your squad! (I’m forever forgetting to track sanity, even hundreds of hours in!)
Agito, with the right Gift levelling, can use items on characters who are FAR away. Dead useful that...
You can also buy life-restoring stuff, grenades that’ll inflict status effects on your enemies and other nasty stuff. Mwahahahaha!
So, as you can see there’s a lot of interesting mechanics and tactical layers to consider in ever round of combat in Lost Dimension. I am genuinely excited to be bringing the game to Steam as it’s one of my favourite JRPGs that we’ve had the privilege to work on. Soon you’ll be able to try it for yourself as we edge ever-closer to release.
Until then, keep an eye on all-things Ghostlight and happy gaming. :)
(Blog written by Ghostlight Ltd.)
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Posted by Al
Thu, 29th Jun 2017
As we eagerly await the arrival of Lost Dimension’s PC port, I thought it’d be fun to go over what – in my opinion – is the game’s stand-out feature: the Vision system.
As covered in some of our previous blog posts, Lost Dimension puts you in control of 11 young psychics that make up the S.E.A.L.E.D. team, tasked with taking down a mysterious terrorist mastermind known only as ‘The End’, who is holed up atop the mysterious ‘Pillar’, an alien, tower-like structure that only the S.E.A.L.E.D. team may enter. Once inside, the team’s memories are scrambled and it's revealed that one or more of them are traitors, secretly in league with The End.
After defeating the hateful, robotic enemies that prowl each floor of the Pillar in exciting strategic battles, the S.E.A.L.E.D. team gain access to that floor’s Judgment Room. Here your team members must each vote to Erase the team member they suspect to be the traitor. Whoever gets the most votes against them is instantly vaporised by the mysterious device in the centre of the Judgment room. Only by eliminating a team member will access be granted to the next floor and – eventually – to the final battle with The End himself!
Look at these guys. Butter wouldn't melt, right? Don't you believe it! :-\
But, hang on a minute, I'm getting ahead of myself! How do you figure out who the traitor is in the first place? And how can you be sure that your teammates will agree with Sho, your main protagonist, when it comes to voting your suspect out? This is where Sho’s unique psychic abilities come into play, via the rather brilliant Vision system.
Vision is tied intimately to Lost Dimension’s other systems, from combat to using the ‘Talk’ menu to manage Sho’s relationships with his teammates. It's important to master this system because, as previously mentioned, Lost Dimension's traitors are different in every play through and there are benefits to finding them all correctly, so listen up! ;)
The Vision system is comprised of 3 phases: Post-battle Vision, the Vision menu and Deep Vision. Let's look at each of these in order. :)
Once you enter the Pillar you’ll find yourself in the Lobby, where you can talk to your teammates, getting the chance to strengthen relationships with two of your buddies after each battle or side mission.
After the battle you'll hear your party's thoughts. The bad ones (like this!) appear in red.
The better your relationship with a teammate, the more likely they’ll be to take your advice when they're voting out a suspected traitor.
You may get 1-3 red thoughts in your post-battle vision. Get all 3 at once and the traitor's in that group!
Once you’ve spoken to your team, levelled up your characters’ Skills and managed your items and equipment, you'll be able to head into battle in one of Lost Dimension’s missions. Before each mission, you'll choose 5 colleagues to take into combat with you, from your overall team of 11. Here, again, the Vision system comes into play…
After your post-battle vision you'll be able to give advice on the possible traitor to other team members. Choose your words wisely!
After each mission, Sho’s powers will kick in and he'll sense the inner thoughts of the 5 characters he took into battle. Although there’s only one traitor, post-battle visions aren't precise enough to nail down a single suspect. Instead, Sho will sense up to 3 traitorous thoughts after each battle. If he senses all 3 of these after a single mission then it’s guaranteed that the traitor was one of the characters in that party. If he hears no traitorous thoughts, then it’s equally certain that everyone in that party is innocent. (Simley) But take it from me, particularly in the early levels, you’ll be VERY lucky to get all 3 voices in a battle right off the bat!
After your advice has been given, you'll see how the lay of the land is in terms of Judgment. Use your influence to swing things the right way. This one is WRONG! O_o
After each post-battle vision sequence Sho will be quizzed by one or two teammates who’re wondering who the traitor is. This is your chance to sway their vote to tally with yours! Finally, before you head back to the Lobby you'll see a table predicting the current outcome of the Judgment, if a vote were to be held immediately. This lets you see if things are going your way and gives you the chance to make sure the right suspect is erased when it comes to the crunch.
THE VISION MENU:
So, you've completed a few missions, looked into the minds of the last few battle parties and maybe eliminated a few innocents from your investigation. Now, how do you reduce the remaining suspects to a shortlist of 3?? Here's where the Vision menu steps in to offer much-needed assistance!
I've taken a good spread of people into battle so I can take a guess. Here I am guessing Toya, Sojiro and Yoko are my suspects. Can't seem to get any other combinations that light up two people per battle, so... ;)
Head there and you'll see a list of the last 10 parties you took into battle. By examining the list and using its handy colouring feature to highlight suspects and innocents, you’ll be able (with a bit of logical thought!) to whittle down the list of suspects to just 3. This is my favourite part of the game. I can't help but feel like Hercule Poirot closing the net on my unsuspecting victim, who, only moments earlier, was busy congratulating themselves on fooling their foolish companions. Well, gloat no more, you dirty traitor!! :)
Hmm I was right. A quick test reveals they were my suspects alright, but after one Deep Vision, Sojiro is innocent...
Ahem, anyhow, now you've got your three suspects you'll need use Deep Vision to zero in on the actual traitor at long last! Let's look at Deep Vision now…
From the Vision menu, you can select individuals from your list of suspects and spend one of Sho’s Deep Vision points to consider their inner being and see if they're the traitor (or not!)
Time to perform Deep Vision on Yoko. I need to find her by listening and looking out for her thoughts. This way I think...
“But hang on!”, I can imagine you shouting at your screen. “Why not just use Deep Vision to search the motives of the whole team and save on all that process of elimination/logic/head scratching?”
A good question friends but, alas, you’re only given 3 Deep Vision points at the start of the game, plus an extra 2 points each time you get to a new floor. Spending Deep Vision points willy-nilly could easily leave you with none left when Judgment comes around, with you still being none the wiser. :( Yep, there are no shortcuts to sleuthing here! It is TOTALLY possible to go into the Judgment Room and erase an innocent man or woman. Do that and there are – how shall I put it – negative consequences when you finally reach the top of the Pillar. (Mwahahahaha!)
Yep, that was the right way. Just a bit closer and we'll get to the truth...
Once you've carefully chosen a suspect to investigate with Deep Vision, Sho finds himself on a mysterious white and misty plain, hearing the thoughts of the teammate who's mind he has entered projecting from somewhere around him. By listening carefully and turning the camera to see the suspect’s thoughts physically projected into the air around him, Sho can advance towards them and eventually reach a physical figure of the suspect in question. Do this three times within a time limit and Sho will confront the inner being of the suspect and discern if they're the traitor or not. If you’re lucky you’ll nail it first time, if not well at least you can somewhat guarantee you’ll only a maximum of three DV points per floor… ;D
Gasp! Yoko, how could you. She was my traitor alright! Now to convince the others to vote my way and we can kiss goodbye to this wretched woman!
Once you've nailed your suspect you'll need to leave them out of future battles and make more use of any teammates who are unpopular with their peers before you head to the Judgment Room, thereby increasing the odds that the right guy/gal is selected by erasure when the chips are down. And well done you if you get it right! (A highly satisfying feeling…)
Finally! Now, bring on the Judgment!! ^_^
Wow, after all that description on my part, you can see that the Vision system is very deep and ties in well with all the other aspects of the game in a meaningful way. Like all the best features in gaming, the Vision system is brilliantly simple in practice, but rather hard to explain in a written blog post like this one, so many thanks for bearing with me JRPG fans! :)
There’ll be more info on Lost Dimension next week, so I’ll see you back here then. In the meantime, happy gaming folks! :)
(Blog written by Ghostlight Ltd. All screenshots are taken from the PS3 version of Lost Dimension.)