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Occult journalist Hayato Ibuki encounters a strange girl during his investigations into a series of mysterious suicides in Tokyo. She implores that Hayato must live, before bestowing upon him a mystical device that allows him to capture celestial and arcane creatures. He is now thrust into a world beyond our own, home to horrific monsters and celestial beings. In it, he must delve into dungeons called Layers and solve the mystery of the device. Where his journey leads him could decide the fate of our world... The Lost Child puts players in the shoes of Hayato, a Shibuya-based journalist who wears a fancy coat and works for a local occult rag as the only employee. His boss sends him all over the place chasing paranormal leads, the latest being a string of suicides at the train station. Investigating leads to a set of events involving angels (both the normal and fallen kind), demons, Lovecraftian (literally) horrors, and a celestial Pokemon gun. Much like darn near every non-AAA title living in the niche world of anime-loving dorks like myself, The Lost Child looks and feels like a visual novel upfront. Well drawn but sparsely animated character portraits take up the middle of the screen, and the entire lower third is generally a text box. You see the world through Hayato’s eyes, and make dialogue choices quite often (more on that later). In true visual novel fashion, Hayato meets a mysterious woman, gets swept up in all sorts of impossible nonsense, and then hardly reacts at all! With all the jargon and Heaven/Hell gobbledygook being thrown around, Hayato is meant to be the audience surrogate, the straight man that keeps all the biblical wackiness manageable. But we seldom hear from Hayato, save for when it’s time to make a silly dialogue choice. We don’t get his inner thoughts, and really only hear from him when it’s time to introduce a new element of the world, through light narration. Otherwise it’s mostly the Lua, the leading lady, who does all the talking. And considering her involvement in everything going down, she doesn’t really do anything for an oddly missing human element. Visual novels work because the player gets inside the head of the narrator. Otherwise, it’s hard to relate to the story and care about what’s happening. The Lost Child is as much a first-person dungeon-crawler as it is a visual novel. When you’re not advancing the story in dialogue scenes, you’re spelunking in Layers, and fighting demons. In the Layers, or dungeons, the game’s low production values really start to stand out. The environments are really bland, plagued by low detail, low visibility, and low creativity. It almost looks like a high-res PlayStation 2 game, behind all the high-res character art. The music is fine but nothing memorable, and the solitary stepping sound effect will haunt your dreams. This is a game that does not benefit from being blown up onto a large TV screen by a modern console. Navigating through the dungeons doesn’t bring much surprising to the table. You make your way through each dungeon’s gimmick obstacles, and find the next set of stairs. Sometimes there’s a puzzle, and sometimes there’s a switch to a locked door—within eyesight of the locked door. One nice perk is an autopilot function, which lets you pick a spot on the map and have the game take you there by itself, only bringing you back if combat triggers. And combat is where all the magic happens. Okay, so it’s a visual novel. It’s a dungeon-crawler. But guess what: it’s also a monster-catching game. And while it’s fun to joke about Pokemon, the systems here feel more like a blend between Shin Megami Tensei and Puzzle X Dragon, with a splash of SaGa just to make things more grindy and complicated. Buckle in everyone, it’s time to get real nerdy. A monster-catching game is only as good as its sense of progression, and this is where The Lost Child really shines. It takes the core appeal of both traditional and mobile-style games of the genre, smashes them together, and finds a happy medium I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of in the best kind of way. Hayato is just a normal dude, and in combat he uses whatever he can find, from a camera tripod to guns and swords he finds while exploring. But he also has a secret weapon from Heaven called the Gangour, which if fired at demons can capture and “purify” them, bringing them over to fight on the good guy team. The success of a capture is based on the damage you do with a shot, which is altered by a “Burst” gauge. The thing about that is it can overload, starting you back at square one in terms of damage. So while you may be concerned about taking out that demon you haven’t captured yet, you also have to worry about timing your Burst meter to make sure you do optimum damage. Once you capture and purify a demon, you have to pump karma into it to make it stronger. While Hayato and Lua level up like normal through EXP, demons only grow by feeding them karma points. You get karma points through battle, sure, but you also earn it through your dialogue choices. And certain demons prefer one of three types of karma, which impacts how much karma it takes to level up. This is where the mobile/Puzzles X Dragon comparison kicks in. Raising your growing stable of demons is all about leveling up through resource management. But wait, there’s more!

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1 Game Disc

The Lost Child PS4

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Occult journalist Hayato Ibuki encounters a strange girl during his investigations into a series of mysterious suicides in Tokyo. She implores that Hayato must live, before bestowing upon him a mystical device that allows him to capture celestial and arcane creatures. He is now thrust into a world beyond our own, home to horrific monsters and celestial beings. In it, he must delve into dungeons called Layers and solve the mystery of the device. Where his journey leads him could decide the fate of our world... The Lost Child puts players in the shoes of Hayato, a Shibuya-based journalist who wears a fancy coat and works for a local occult rag as the only employee. His boss sends him all over the place chasing paranormal leads, the latest being a string of suicides at the train station. Investigating leads to a set of events involving angels (both the normal and fallen kind), demons, Lovecraftian (literally) horrors, and a celestial Pokemon gun. Much like darn near every non-AAA title living in the niche world of anime-loving dorks like myself, The Lost Child looks and feels like a visual novel upfront. Well drawn but sparsely animated character portraits take up the middle of the screen, and the entire lower third is generally a text box. You see the world through Hayato’s eyes, and make dialogue choices quite often (more on that later). In true visual novel fashion, Hayato meets a mysterious woman, gets swept up in all sorts of impossible nonsense, and then hardly reacts at all! With all the jargon and Heaven/Hell gobbledygook being thrown around, Hayato is meant to be the audience surrogate, the straight man that keeps all the biblical wackiness manageable. But we seldom hear from Hayato, save for when it’s time to make a silly dialogue choice. We don’t get his inner thoughts, and really only hear from him when it’s time to introduce a new element of the world, through light narration. Otherwise it’s mostly the Lua, the leading lady, who does all the talking. And considering her involvement in everything going down, she doesn’t really do anything for an oddly missing human element. Visual novels work because the player gets inside the head of the narrator. Otherwise, it’s hard to relate to the story and care about what’s happening. The Lost Child is as much a first-person dungeon-crawler as it is a visual novel. When you’re not advancing the story in dialogue scenes, you’re spelunking in Layers, and fighting demons. In the Layers, or dungeons, the game’s low production values really start to stand out. The environments are really bland, plagued by low detail, low visibility, and low creativity. It almost looks like a high-res PlayStation 2 game, behind all the high-res character art. The music is fine but nothing memorable, and the solitary stepping sound effect will haunt your dreams. This is a game that does not benefit from being blown up onto a large TV screen by a modern console. Navigating through the dungeons doesn’t bring much surprising to the table. You make your way through each dungeon’s gimmick obstacles, and find the next set of stairs. Sometimes there’s a puzzle, and sometimes there’s a switch to a locked door—within eyesight of the locked door. One nice perk is an autopilot function, which lets you pick a spot on the map and have the game take you there by itself, only bringing you back if combat triggers. And combat is where all the magic happens. Okay, so it’s a visual novel. It’s a dungeon-crawler. But guess what: it’s also a monster-catching game. And while it’s fun to joke about Pokemon, the systems here feel more like a blend between Shin Megami Tensei and Puzzle X Dragon, with a splash of SaGa just to make things more grindy and complicated. Buckle in everyone, it’s time to get real nerdy. A monster-catching game is only as good as its sense of progression, and this is where The Lost Child really shines. It takes the core appeal of both traditional and mobile-style games of the genre, smashes them together, and finds a happy medium I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of in the best kind of way. Hayato is just a normal dude, and in combat he uses whatever he can find, from a camera tripod to guns and swords he finds while exploring. But he also has a secret weapon from Heaven called the Gangour, which if fired at demons can capture and “purify” them, bringing them over to fight on the good guy team. The success of a capture is based on the damage you do with a shot, which is altered by a “Burst” gauge. The thing about that is it can overload, starting you back at square one in terms of damage. So while you may be concerned about taking out that demon you haven’t captured yet, you also have to worry about timing your Burst meter to make sure you do optimum damage. Once you capture and purify a demon, you have to pump karma into it to make it stronger. While Hayato and Lua level up like normal through EXP, demons only grow by feeding them karma points. You get karma points through battle, sure, but you also earn it through your dialogue choices. And certain demons prefer one of three types of karma, which impacts how much karma it takes to level up. This is where the mobile/Puzzles X Dragon comparison kicks in. Raising your growing stable of demons is all about leveling up through resource management. But wait, there’s more!

Box Contains

1 Game Disc

App section