Lost Eidolons – Review
Follow Genre: Turn-based tactical RPG
Developer: Ocean Drive Studio Inc.
Publisher: Ocean Drive Studio Inc.
Platform: PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
Tested on: PC

Lost Eidolons – Review

Site Score
8.4
Good: Offers plenty of tactical challenge
Bad: Lacklustre audiovisual presentation in side stories
User Score
10.0
(2 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

After a successful Kickstarter campaign and over three years of development, indie studio Ocean Drive Studio Inc. is finally unleashing its first-ever title, Lost Eidolons, on an unsuspecting public. Given that it’s a tactical turn-based RPG,  a genre that we’re partial to, Lost Eidolons certainly piqued our interest but we were skeptical too: It’s an undertaking that feels ambitious in terms of scale but that seemingly plays it a bit too safe in terms of gameplay. Can Ocean Drive Studio Inc. deliver with their debut title or did they bite off more than they could chew?

Story

At first glance, Lost Eidolons seemed to stick to the classic good-versus-evil formula, but as the story gradually started to unfold we noticed that there was more here than we expected. Our protagonist, Eden, is the captain of a colorful band of mercenaries that typically take down crews of bandits. Eden and his friends get swept up into a conflict that is raging across the land of Artemesia, after their village is ransacked by the Imperial Army. Our ragtag band of mercenaries subsequently joins the Resistance to seek vengeance on the Empire, but (of course) this puts them on the road to a far bigger adventure than they could ever imagine… one involving magic and mysterious creatures. We won’t spoil exactly how and when the supernatural elements come into play, but we will say that for the first few hours it seemed that this is a medieval universe that could have existed in the real world; before things take a complete turn and the full register of fantasy tropes is unleashed.

The main story is told through animated cutscenes, mostly from Eden’s perspective, and while it’s already a well-written and fully fleshed-out affair, anyone looking to dive deeper into Lost Eidolons’ lore can do so through optional dialogue scenes from the camp area -which acts as a hub. These scenes give depth to the supporting cast -although, as we’ll discuss further down, the audiovisual presentation leaves something to be desired here. Storywise, these scenes in particular pull the events of Lost Eidolons into grey moral areas and aren’t afraid to question the meaninglessness of war, something that feels relevant today, even though the game takes place in a fantasy world.

Graphics

In recent years, the majority of tactical turn-based RPGs embraced anime-like aesthetics, even though their narratives are typically rooted in Tolkien-esque Western fantasy. This isn’t the case with Lost Eidolons, which dramatically deviates from the art direction commonly seen in other heavy hitters in the genre like Symphony of War and Triangle Strategy. Rendered in a more realistic style, the 3D character models look fantastic and the animations imbue Lost Eidolons’ action with a dynamic feeling. During story scenes, things tend to look a bit too dark, sometimes making it hard to follow what is going on. Luckily, the game looks fantastic during battle, and this is where you’ll be spending the majority of your time with the game in the first place. That said, the environments leave something to be desired in terms of detail, especially when zoomed in, but given that the focus is on the characters, we can overlook this. What’s less easy to overlook is that although there are cutscenes present here in key moments, the majority of the story is told through lengthy visual novel-style dialogue scenes. These can drag and some visual variety would have been welcome here -we don’t mind this kind of presentation, but the sheer amount of exposition can make these a chore to sit through.

Sound

Boasting an impressive cast containing the likes of Fire Emblem’s Chris Hackney and Cassandra Morris and Genshin Impact‘s Brittany Cox and Jennifer Losi, Lost Eidolons definitely surpasses expectations when it comes to voice acting -although the lip-synching of the on-screen characters could do with some improvement. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t feature full voice acting, and a lot of the dialogue is limited to on-screen text which -given the amount of expository dialogue- does get a bit jarring. The soundtrack fares a lot better and even dares to take a few risks: while it consists of fitting orchestral music for the most part, there is the occasional deviation from a cinematic score in the form of unusual elements like electric guitars. We were afraid that this would break immersion but it all worked surprisingly well.

Gameplay

Over the years, we’ve taken a look at a wide variety of turn-based tactical RPGs, from by-the-numbers titles like Reverie Knights Tactics to more outlandish takes on the genre, such as Gem Wizards Tactics. Lost Eidolons definitely falls in the former category, offering a 40-ish hour campaign that alternates tactical turn-based battles on a grid with extensive story segments set in an open-world-like camp area where relationships between characters are fleshed out and resources are managed. Familiar genre elements like (optional) permadeath and being able to recruit more characters than you’ll ever use in a single playthrough are present as well. There is an extensive class system in play too, allowing you to shape your characters to fit your preferred strategies. This bodes well for replayability of course, as this incentivizes players to return to the game to try out a different roster. Given that Lost Eidolons’ campaign already offers a whopping 40-ish hours worth of content, this means that you’re getting a whole lot of tactical RPG for your money.

In terms of gameplay, the battles are the main course and we’re happy to say that combat is absolutely delightful here, offering plenty of challenges without feeling unfair. Lost Eidolons is built around exploiting different synergies: Weapons and armor interact with one another in different ways, such as axes being more effective against heavy armor than swords. Unit positioning is also massively important: individual units gain bonuses from fighting near allies and weak points of enemy monsters can be exploited by attacking specific squares that the monster occupies. The maps are well designed and the varied environments actually play into your tactical options as characters interact not just with the enemy but with terrain as well. To illustrate, spellcasters can make use of elements of nature, resulting in different effects depending on whether you’re fighting in a forest or on an open field. There is a Pokémon-like strategy element to Lost Eidolon’s magic: a water-soaked enemy will be weak to lightning-based spells but will shrug off fire attacks, for example.

It all adds up to a battle system with plenty of tactical options and where different strategies can be viable, although one always has to keep in mind that the enemy AI can exploit this system in the same way that you can. This means that the key to success is weighing your tactical options and finding the path of least resistance, instead of brute forcing your way through. This becomes especially true in siege battles, which put a refreshing twist on an already solid combat system. Missions are objective based, and while you’re usually trying to achieve “standard” goals like taking out an enemy commander or wiping out a horde of enemies, sieges offer more variety as you’re trying to identify weak points in enemy strongholds and exploit these in a variety of ways.

We should perhaps note that although Lost Eidolons is an incredibly solid take on the genre, it also doesn’t bring any new ideas to the table. That’s not a bad thing in the slightest: fans of turn-based tactical RPGs will feel right at home here and because developer Ocean Drive Studio Inc. fully embraces the gameplay elements that made other titles so fantastic, this is almost the perfect title to introduce newcomers to what makes games like this so great. Almost, because the game is stingy with explanations of some of the more elaborate mechanics, and expects the player to figure out a lot on their own. Veterans of the genre shouldn’t have any issues with this, but if you’ve never played a turn-based tactical RPG before, you might run into some frustration over trial and error. Granted, Lost Eidolons could use some polish in a handful of other minor areas as well, but overall, this is an impressive debut for the studio. One thing we hope is improved in the near future are the lengthy load times, because these can really take the flow out of spending an evening in Artemesia.

Conclusion

While there are definitely areas that Lost Eidolons could have been improved upon, we couldn’t help but be impressed with the final product. The main story is well-written, with a fully fleshed-out cast and plenty of optional side content to dive into, and the game really comes into its own once the characters take to the battlefield. Uneven audiovisual presentation -especially when it comes to those side stories- and long load times do hurt the game’s overall appeal, but if you can look past those minor issues, there is plenty to love here. If you’re already a genre enthusiast, Lost Eidolons is a must-have title, and if you’re looking to dip your toes into turn-based tactical RPGs, you could do far worse.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Lost Eidolons - Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
SebastiaanRaats


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