Lost Eidolons Review: An Impressive New Contender Enters the Tactical Landscape
Whenever I think of the tactical RPG genre, I first think of Fire Emblem. It ushered me into the vast tactical arena, and gave me an appreciation for well-made and challenging adventures. And perhaps because of the visual style of that series, I started to associate tactical RPGs with a certain look. Namely JRPG characters and bright colors. Which isn’t what came to mind while I was playing Lost Eidolons. This is a much more realistic and gritty visual style that truly reminded me of Game of Thrones.
It’s set in a world on the precipice of revolution, where the reign of the almighty emperor is being threatened by several upstart armies. This is a world of political intrigue where power usually corrupts, and idealism is hard to hold onto. Most of the story is focused on Eden and his motley crew of mercenaries, who quickly get swept up into the larger conflict. Can they keep their humanity as everything gets more complicated and alliances are sorely tested? That’s one of the central questions in Lost Eidolons. And overall, I was very pleased with this tactical RPG.
Despite the differences between this game and Fire Emblem, it’s clear to me developer Ocean Drive Studio learned a lot from the series. This is a very well-made game that is also competently organized and pretty intuitive. I was pleased early on to discover I could highlight the combined enemy range on the map, or even just individual units. You can also press a button to switch between your active units, as well as rotate the camera to get a better view of the action. Things like that really make any tactical game significantly better, and it meant I had to spend less time learning the basics. While it would take an entire other review to cover all the nuances in Lost Eidolons, I’ll do my best to skim over the more important stuff.
Though there’s no Weapon Triangle present, there is a smart system where certain types of armor are weak to particular weapons. Mages’ garb gets ripped to shreds by arrows, while heavy armor is no match for axes. That’s all good, but pretty basic as well. Where Lost Eidolons stands apart from most of the competition is the weapons-swapping mechanic. Each unit can equip a couple different weapons at a time, depending on their current class. Not to mention, there’s complete freedom in what character becomes what class, so long as you put a little extra time into the process. You’re free to swap weapons at any time during combat, without losing a turn or any negative consequence. That means you can run in with a sword, axe, or spear, and then swap to a bow and arrow and snipe problem units. It’s a really fantastic idea, and it made every battle feel more dynamic as a result.
You won’t get penalized overmuch for using a weapon that armor isn’t weak to, other than doing less damage overall. But where this system becomes truly necessary is when fighting for your life against gigantic monsters. Creatures like Hellhounds and Manticores. Each turn, they’ll have two different weaknesses, displayed as tiles around them marked with weapon icons. If you don’t attack their weaknesses, you’ll get countered and take a lot of damage. If you do, however, you’ll not only deal significant damage, but you can chain together increasingly more powerful attacks with each successful attack. Just keep in mind that each tile can only be attacked twice before shattering, though the monsters will spawn new weaknesses the following turn.
I thoroughly enjoyed combat against horrifying monsters, as they always served as a serious challenge that required clever tactics and placement to deal with. I was also happy to see Lost Eidolons isn’t a game just based in realism. There’s plenty of mages that cast powerful spells, as well as dangerous entities that could change the history of Artemesia itself. The plot does an excellent job of mixing strong personalities in a dark and fascinating world. Just get ready to hear a lot of well-delivered dialogue, since the vast majority of the story is told through fantastic voice acting. That said, it can get pretty time-consuming, so you can always skip dialogue if you’re just not feeling it, and read up on the plot later.
Oh, and if you were worried about weapon durability, fret not. Instead of having to constantly arm your forces with new weapons, Lost Eidolons lets you attack again and again with standard weaponry. Mages, however, have to work a bit harder. They equip grimoires of spells. Depending on the book, you can equip your spellcaster with several different spells at a time, from healing to offensive. Each spell has a certain number of uses per battle, so you’ll have to be careful. There are also ways to interact with your environment with your elemental magic. You can light brush on fire, electrocute wet units, or freeze enemies in their tracks. You’ll also only have limited uses for skills, such as taunting your foe and damaging them simultaneously, or swapping places with nearby units.
Setting Up Camp
That’s plenty to process, but there’s another integral system – your constantly expanding camp. After each battle, you’ll meet up there, chat with allies, take on minor jobs and train your forces to fight better the next time. It’s also worth noting that this is entirely 3D, and you can wander as far as the eye can see. Although you don’t have to take on all the optional stuff whenever you’re in camp, it’s well worth your time to do so. You’ll get rewarded with points you can spend befriending allies, and developing closer bonds. You’ll also have plentiful opportunities to recruit new allies after the first few chapters. There are even wholly optional sidequests you can take on to get more experience and some sweet loot.
My favorite part about the camp is that you can fast-travel to any node on the map. This means you just have to pause, bring up the character’s name that you want to warp to, and press a button. I will say that the vendors in camp aren’t quite as intuitive. While it’s easy enough to select items to buy, instead of a giant Purchase or Buy button, you have a prompt that is called Transaction. I eventually figured out that was what I needed to do to finish acquiring items, but it took me a couple of tries. Luckily this was earlier in the game, so I didn’t have to suffer much.
A Tactical Tale
Lost Eidolons is a pretty massive experience, and will take anywhere from 30 – 50 hours to finish a single playthrough. Though I’m personally not sure, who could beat it in 30 hours, because there’s just a lot of game here. Not to mention you have multiple difficulties you can play on, and can even implement ‘fun’ features like permadeath. I didn’t opt for that in my time with the game, just because I wanted to experience as much as humanly possible before I finally wrote it all up.
War Is Beautiful
Visually, I’m impressed by Lost Eidolons. A high point are the really frenetic animated battle sequences. Though I usually prefer less realistic fare, each of the many characters is well-animated, and distinct. From the brash but goofy Francisco to the acerbic Andrea to the imperious Linard, each and every character looks and sounds different. While I very much enjoyed the humanoid characters, and how they would change their armor when you changed their class, the units that stole my attention were the monsters. They’re massive, bestial, and wonderfully hideous. You start out fighting against Hellhounds, but there are others to discover as you play. Musically the game has a rousing soundtrack that kept me invested in the adventure, and got dramatic when necessary. But again, a special shout out to the fantastic voice acting. It really brought every character to life, from my stalwart allies to the cruel forces arrayed against me.
Room For Improvement
I have very few serious complaints about the game, but here are a few areas that Lost Eidolons fell short. While I very much enjoyed the weapon-swapping mechanic, there’s a minor issue – you can’t just click on a unit during battle to check both of their equipped weapons. Granted, you can do so at the camp menu, but not being able to do so in the thick of things struck me as a huge oversight. Also, though the game plays very well with a gamepad, I had a persistent issue where my gamepad would randomly disconnect for a few moments at a time. Then the cursor on the map would fly around drunkenly until my gamepad reconnected.
Of more concern is an issue I had hoped would be resolved by the Day One patch. One of the issues Ocean Drive Studio identified was how some scenes were overly dark, and hard to see as a result. Though I thought the patch fixed things, I quickly discovered that whenever my camp happened at night, I could barely see in front of my face. Thankfully the fast travel alleviated this issue a lot, but I still am glad to hear the team is working on a fix. And lastly, though I admit my laptop isn’t a powerhouse by any stretch, I found that just playing Lost Eidolons for any period of time had my fan running furiously. So much so that I often would play for a bit, then quit back to the Steam menu so my laptop could cool down.
We Found Your Next Tactical Fix
Minor issues aside, Lost Eidolons is a truly impressive tactical RPG. It has solid and easy-to-grasp mechanics and manages to differentiate itself thanks to the weapon swapping and realistic visual style. While there’s still some room for improvement and some minor issues that require fixing, I can wholeheartedly recommend this to any fans of the genre. Here’s hoping this talented new team has many more exciting adventures to share in the future.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: PC (Steam and Epic) (reviewed), coming to Xbox Series X|S; Publisher: Ocean Drive Studio; Developer: Ocean Drive Studio; Players: 1; Released: October 13, 2022; MSRP: $34.99
Editor’s note: The publisher provided a review copy to Hey Poor Player.