Lost Eidolons on PC
Whenever a new studio is trying to make it in the gaming industry, having an intriguing first project is always going to be important to catch those eyeballs. With things moving so fast and plenty of games coming out each day, it can be a tough challenge to take on. For Ocean Drive Studio, this has been the team’s aim for the past three years. After spending more than 40 hours in Lost Eidolons, I am more than happy to report that this is one turn-based tactical roleplaying game that is pretty impressive for a debut, albeit with some niggling issues.
Set in the war-torn land of Artemesia, players take on the role of a mercenary captain, Eden, and his loyal crew of ragtag heroes. Needless to say, beating up ruffians around your hometown is no adventure, and things get complicated quickly with rebellion, conspiracies, betrayal, and plenty of imperial drama to satisfy even the most ardent of Game of Thrones fans. What appears initially to be straightforward good versus evil starts to fill in with gray areas, and it won’t be a surprise to have yourself questioning just how far it is possible to go when you think you are on the right side of history.
The writing in Lost Eidolons was certainly interesting to me, balancing grandstanding villainy with more nuanced takes on the horrors of war, while giving the characters room to breathe and be fleshed out through both mandatory and optional dialogue. It sits in a nice position of doing just about enough for players to keep going, and at the same time, providing deeper lore and discovery for those that are keen to peel back the layers.
All of that political maneuvering is delivered with a surprising level of quality when it comes to visuals. Lost Eidolons may be an indie title, but it sure has some mighty fine character models for the many colorful characters players will meet throughout the 30 to 50 hours spent in the game. While the environment textures, especially during some of the close-ups, will pale in comparison, it only reflects the high standard of quality when it comes to the stars of the war.
Pivotal moments are also enhanced by pretty decent voice acting, helping to bring to life, not just the characters, but also upping the stakes for those that are caught in this conflict. The lip-syncing is, unfortunately, not the best, and perhaps it would have been better just to forgo it all and let the voices do the heavy lifting, but it is a minor misstep.
Undoubtedly, the star of the show in Lost Eidolons is the many battles that await. Split between the tactical turn-based grid combat sections with an open-world-like camp where preparations can be made, comparisons with the likes of Fire Emblem and The Diofield Chronicle are going to be inevitable, and Lost Eidolons fully embraces the similarities with a slight twist.
Battles take place across varied environments, requiring players to master the grid in order to take advantage of both class and magical skills. That’s not all you will have to worry about, as the elements involved can interact with certain terrain to create different effects and lead to powerful elemental synergies that can make or break a strategy, or until you run out of uses for a particular spell.
Think of forests that can be set alight as an easy example, or perhaps something more complicated, like dry land that can be turned wet through the use of water spells, making adjacent enemies susceptible to chained lightning attacks or being frozen with an ice spell. All of that can work to your advantage, and if you are not careful, it will be used against you by the competent AI.
There are also weapon/armor interactions to take note of, like axes being better against plated armor, unit bonuses from being in close proximity with allies, and even specific weak points when fighting against more monstrous foes. Naturally, as you progress and become stronger, so does the enemy, ensuring that there are always risks and rewards during combat. Lost Eidolons does a great job of keeping things fresh throughout the many combat scenarios players will find themselves in, including a unique and significant feature about halfway through the game, and we haven’t even touched on the castle siege battles.
Going gung-ho and trying to ram a gate down may seem like the best strategy, but with ballistae, archers, and magic users prowling the towers, death is almost inevitable. Only by balancing the offensive and defensive sides of things can you hope to emerge victorious, even as the turn countdown continues to put added pressure on players to finish the fight.
Actions on both ends earn precious XP for your army, which is further broken down into Weapon and Defensive proficiencies, along with their overall level and class expertise. The more involved a unit is in an engagement, the better it will be for its growth, allowing players to further specialize their units for various approaches.
For those looking to take things up a notch, Lost Eidolons does offer the difficulty amplifier of permadeath, so any grave mistakes in battle will lead to the loss of a unit for the rest of the game, at least on the battlefield. However, there is also the option of undoing your actions to a certain limit, so you can still save yourself if a particular sequence of events unfolds in less than favorable conditions. Either way, it is entirely up to you whether you want to make things easier or difficult based on your preference.
That said, winning battles is just part of being in the rebellion. In the downtime, preparation is key, and that goes beyond just your equipment when you have over 20 playable characters and 10 classes to choose from. Starting from your initial group, opportunities to recruit other characters will arise, and it is essential to build rapport with them to convince them to join the cause.
This can be done via short quests that can involve conversations, optional battles, or just fetching items, and should you take a particular liking to a new face, spend your precious and limited Leadership Points in each chapter to take part in activities with them. The process of building rapport is quite vital to both your existing roster and potential additions, unlocking bonuses when fighting or paving the way for more character development and even unique endings. Considering that you have to choose who you can get closer to, it does feel like a waste not to be able to experience all the writing that has gone into building up allies and enemies alike at one go, but it does add to the replayability of Lost Eidolons.
And as the war progresses, the camp expands and opens up into more locations that allow for more interesting activities, collectibles to find, and a clearer reflection of the situations Eden and his army will find themselves in. While it is by no means a necessity, being able to engage in conversations and seeing everything alive around you is a nice touch, and the quick fast travel to individuals with something to say or to do is a feature that should be included in most games whenever possible.
Perhaps the best compliment I can give Lost Eidolons is that there really isn’t anything egregious to say about the entire experience. Sure, the exposition can be lengthy, and if you are not into the medieval setting and story, it can be too overwhelming, but it definitely helps to set the stage nicely for the battles to come. I could also do with less loading in between dialogue sequences that seem unnecessary, and the less-than-ideal lip-syncing is a distraction.
Take away all of that, and herein lies a more than competent turn-based tactical RPG that weaves a grand tale full of drama, stakes, and plenty of bloodshed. Lost Eidolons’ combat system is familiar yet different, offering strategic flexibility with the use of terrain and elements, and giving players the tools to succeed or fail on their own merits. Add to that the depth of its character development and worldbuilding, and it is likely anyone looking to invest considerable time into the game will enjoy themselves immensely. To say Lost Eidolons is an indie title with AAA aspirations is not a knock against it, but a true reflection of its quality and the potential it has if its edges were more refined.
Exposition can be too lengthy.
Loading screens galore.