Lost Epic is a 2D side-scrolling action RPG with soulslike elements developed by Team EARTH WARS and Oneoreight. I missioned through the loosely connected world of Sanctum to vanquish the Pantheon of Six. It started with an addicting element, but eventually it was buried under too much padding in a feeble attempt to make a mountain of gameplay out of a molehill.

The story was generic, questing to stop bosses from corrupting the world. The atmosphere was well composed, but the sound could get a little choppy here and there. It was as if an old Vanillaware game was reskinned, inspired by modern shonen anime. I was disappointed by the different regions, composed of forking paths, for they felt linear and offered little to do other than slash my way from one side of the screen to the other. The one area that did stand out was a clumsy underwater region – in 2022, honestly? – complete with swimming and breath management.

Each area began by handing out sidequests, mostly for things I was bound to do anyways like killing so many creatures, killing specific creatures, or going to specific areas. Equally redundant, the game had “mazes” that were just more of the same, with the caveat that I couldn’t see myself on the map. Although, I liked being able to roam as I pleased and later return to a major boss fight whenever I saw fit.

Characters animated like their limbs were cardboard cutouts pinned at the joints. However, I found the free-form combat to be quite responsive, if somewhat floaty. Unfortunately, it discouraged use of any spells or weapons that were single-target or too slow. For the most part, the pacing was binary. One minute, I was juggling, stun-locking, and interrupting foes with a flurry of combos and cooldown-based spells. The next minute, I was presented with an enemy too big for my usual bag of tricks and proceeded to fight with a few taps and a lot of dodges. There was a fair bit of weapon variety, but hours could pass before acquiring a new one. Because weapons leveled up based on use, they all struggled to separate me from my sunk cost fallacy with the beginning sword.

There was a largely traditional RPG skill tree, but it used soulslike currency that doubled as experience and could be permanently lost if I did not retrieve it after a death. The interesting skills were unlocked not by the branches but by progressing through the story or by persistently grinding kills and weaponry. The action RPG and soulslike elements barely blended into this uninspiring emulsion. Altars were spread out for me to respawn, restock, and upgrade myself, but checkpoints were more prominent. These only served the purpose of returning me to an altar long past and respawning most of what I had slain.

Creatures in later areas would be reintroduced with a change in color, a new status effect, or as the exact same version as before. By far the most criminal design choice was to demand such an extreme degree of grinding, the kind one would expect of a game riddled with microtransactions or an MMORPG, but there were no microtransactions and only limited co-op. It became apparent after the first hour that the game’s focus was on grinding mobs and ingredients for experience, gear, weapons, upgrades, and consumables. I was not satisfied with the hours passing by and my equipment barely improving unless I devoted myself to farming.

But if that’s something you’re into, Lost Epic is leaving early access July 28 and will be available on PlayStation and Steam for $19.99.

Watch the Review in 3 Minutes for Lost Epic.

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