Title: The Lost Child
Platform: PS4, PS Vita, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Publisher: NIS America
Release date: June 19 (North America), June 22 (UK)
tl;dr: A throwback to old school Shin Megami Tensei games
Price: $50/£50 (across all platforms)
Family Focus: Click here for more information.

The Lost Child tells the story of Hayato Ibuki, a journalist for an occult magazine, who has been tasked to investigate a handful of mysterious suicides occurring at Shinjuku Station. While minding his own business, Ibuki is pushed onto the tracks by a shadow; thankfully, a young woman named Belucia is nearby to grab him before he falls. Belucia hands our protagonist a mysterious black case, and as he returns to his office, he comes across an angel called Lua, who reveals that Ibuki is the Chosen One to execute a mission from God. Shortly after their introduction, a shadowy figure steals the briefcase. Hayato and Lua starts running after the mysterious robber, and as a brawl breaks out, Lua unlocks the briefcase to reveal the Gangour; a mysterious weapon from Heaven which can capture demons. Hayato and Lua then head to Akihabara to investigate a mysterious rumor as they start the hunt for Balucia; Lua’s missing sister.

The Lost Child is a spiritual sequel to 2011’s El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron. While El Shaddai was a third person hack n’ slash title, The Lost Child takes a left turn by being a traditional JRPG experience: dungeon crawling, level grinding, and turn based battles. What makes it stand out is the different mechanics which will be addressed in the following paragraphs.

In the same vein as ATLUS’ Shin Megami Tensei titles, players of The Lost Child can capture demons during battles and in turn use them in battle as party members. But there’s a catch: once a demon has been captured with the Gangour, players need to purify the demon before it behaves accordingly. Demons can also decide to turn “bad,” again so you’ll need to re-purify them to keep them in line. The party consists of five members: Hayato and Lua who are both “locked,” in the party, and up to three demons.

Interestingly enough, players decide how the demons level up. Instead of the traditional way of earning experience points in battle, players earn Karma points: good, neutral, and evil. Depending on the types of enemy you’ll defeat, you get either neutral or evil karma. Earned Karma points can then be used in in-game menu to level up or strengthen, each demon. Demons also have a level cap and once it’s reached, can be brought at Chodenji in order to “EVILve.” Karma points can also be earned depending on answers you give during conversations. Another way to improve your current arsenal of demons is the ability to transfer Skills. By going to the aforementioned Chodenji, players can pick a demon’s skill and transfer it to a different one, giving players a lot of leeway in creating their “ideal,” companion(s).

However, both Hayato and Lua level up the traditional way: beating enemies and gaining experience points. When levelling up, both characters earn five skill points which are to be used across a handful of criteria, such as Defense, Magical Defense, Speed, Agility, etc.

Being a traditional JRPG experince, dungeon crawling is a given. As another nod to the genre, the navigation is all done through a first person perspective. You can have access to a map at all times that will display explored areas and feature important icons, such as save points, exits, stairs, and switches. To amp up the challenge, Kadokawa Games instilled a single save point per dungeon; so if you make it to the boss and die, you’re pretty much screwed… or not (more on that shortly). Which brings me to my next point. Karma Points can also get you out of a bind. As mentioned earlier, if you die fighting a boss, you’re done. There are no checkpoints and your only hope is to reload your last save.

However, before being sent back to the title screen, you’re given a chance to pay, either with the in-game currency or with Karma points, a small fee to be returned to the point before you encountered the boss, saving hours of frustration in case you decided to skip the dungeon’s save point. One of the best game’s best features is definitely the Autopilot. If you wish to return to a previously visited area (although certain conditions apply), simply open the map, choose a destination and choose Yes when prompted to use Autopilot; the game will then navigate for you. Obviously, this won’t stop battles from occurring, but it saves a lot of time.

The combat also features an interesting little mechanic called the “Hostility Eye.” It’s a little eye in the bottom right corner of every partner’s HP/MP box which indicates if said party member is prone to be attacked. By default, the eye is purple and it means that the character is safe. However, once the eye becomes red and agitated, it means the character is about to be attacked on the next turn. As a JRPG, the game’s combat is a standard turn-based affair where the player’s party members set their actions (attack, skills, items, defend, etc) and once that’s done, the battle is underway.

When not in dungeons, players can roam around Shinjuku, and visit areas and shops. You can also go to your office; it’s where you stow away useless items (you can also sell them) and pick up new investigations. While some investigations will lead players to dungeons, others will simply require players to interact with NPCs from a set area to get more information. The Lost Child plays out as a very straightforward, streamlined RPG where you’re limited to the handful of unlockable areas. All navigation is done through menus instead of walking around, which can make things easier.

So how does the presentation of The Lost Child fare? The game looks very good and definitely has that traditional JRPG flair with the anime-like characters. Conversations are told through stills. Demons are also incredibly detailed, and Kadokawa Games came up with some interesting and crazy designs; but nothing compared to Shin Megami Tensei’s Mara. Protagonists and NPCs feel like a mix of Persona and Final Fantasy-inspired designs, yet all the while remaining unique to the game. Audio wise, good news; you can play the game with Japanese voiceovers, giving it the full JRPG treatement. While often times Japanese voiceovers tend to sound overdramatic, the actors here gave the game the right tone all throughout. Rest assured that an English dubbed version is available for those who want to avoid reading subtitles.

Any fans of the JRPG genre definitely needs to play The Lost Child. While the game does share a few similarities to Shin Megami Tensei’s lore, it features enough character to forge its own identity. Having full control over which demons you level up, Autopilot, and Skills transfer, among others, are some of the aspects of the game that will keep you hooked. Furthermore, this game features a well balanced difficulty so newcomers to the genre can easily jump in and not feel overwhelmed. Don’t miss out on The Lost Child.

The Good

  • Classic JRPG experience
  • Addictive gameplay
  • Auto-pilot function

The Bad

  • Very streamlined
  • JRPG = Some grinding required
  • Only one save point per dungeon

Family Focus

The Lost Child is rated T for Teen and PEGI12 due to violence. Demons aren’t nice and they won’t talk you to death.

This review is based on a code provided by the publisher for the purposes of this review.