The hardest part of writing a review by far is deciding a score. While some games are easy to place, others are complex, with both the good and bad sides weighing heavy on my mind. Putting down a fifty percent value and calling it a day isn’t okay either, as it reads more as a bad game than an average one. A simple number can influence so much, which has been why putting one down for Lost in Harmony feels that much more difficult.
Lost in Harmony is a rhythm game with runner elements. Your characters move on rails down a long pathway while avoiding objects that come at you from at all directions. There is a good amount of warning given about what’s on the way, especially when it comes to things flying from the side or front, that makes the entire game feel challenging but not impossible. The big gimmick is that everything moves in time to music, with the pieces you are meant to avoid passing by to the beat of the songs. This can be hectic at times as songs ramp up in speed and complexity. The game also features a system that feels inspired by Dance Dance Revolution, with quick time events where you hit the X, Y, A, and B key when the icons fly over the pads. All these facets blend together, and flow nicely between one another.
With as big a part as the music plays, the soundtrack needs to be strong, and Lost in Harmony excels in this field. While many songs are just popular classical songs given a reworking, the arrangements are expertly chosen. Mashups of songs that transition from one to the next make each level feel unique and fresh throughout. The selections also do a great job at invoking the mood of each area, turning the visuals into works of art that accent the audio.
Once in a while the game breaks down, and the two key pieces, the obstructions and the melody, don’t sync up. This is most prevalent and most noticeable during the button sections, as what feels like on-beat reads as off. When combined with the objects moving off-tempo as well, it pushes the beat away from you. Overall these moments pull focus away from the song, taking away from a strength of the game. These points made me question whether or not the game was even worth playing.
Thankfully, the story was around to carry me through. Broken in twine, Lost in Harmony features two campaigns that play equally in terms of gameplay. However these two tales are far from similar in terms to quality and detail, and it highlights what good writing brings to a game. The first account is called Kaito Adventure, and the other M.I.R.A.I. Escape.
In M.I.R.A.I. Escape, you play as the acronym named robot as it flees capture from its creator and their planetary governing body, who are trying to deactivate it. M.I.R.A.I. escapes to earth, and experiences life among humans and the majesties of our planet. During each chapter, there are messages from three places; your creator Dr. Fate, the aforementioned planetary governing body, and a news feed from earth. These serve as the primary forms of exposition, with each driving the plot forward. All in all, this story is decent, but is hampered by the character. Not only is M.I.R.A.I. a robot, but comes from a planet unlike ours, making them immediately difficult to connect with. Add to this that they get little time to take center stage, and it feels like it serves more as a vessel for the plot to revolve around than a character we can empathize with and connect to.
Kaito Adventure, on the other hand, is the reason why this game deserves to be played. The levels take place in the dreams of a teenage boy named Kaito, and has him skateboarding across fantastical settings with a girl, his close friend Aya. These sections are more visually diverse that MIRAI’s, but they aren’t what set this narrative apart. The story is told through text conversation between the two, with your input sending Kaito’s messages. This small decision connected me to Kaito more than anything done by M.I.R.A.I., and invested me in his tale.
As the game went on, I found myself attracted not only to the otherworldly level designs, but to this tale of a boy and his friend. Aya has an illness that causes her pain and to miss school from time to time. Each conversation lasts only a few texts, but are able to produce strong, personal moments that kept me on the edge of my seat. I was hooked and starving for information, and as it was revealed, I found each small piece caused genuine emotions. The small jokes between them had me laughing harder than I should have, while the lows hit me hard. At the end, I found myself literally crying due to the attachments I had created with the characters and the resolution it reaches. It’s at the end of the game a full integration of gameplay and story happens, and it was a beautiful send off for the small yet powerful narrative.
As I thought about my score, I realized that the positives vastly outweigh the negatives. There are definite issues with timing between the gorgeous soundtrack and powerful art direction, but they’re still worth playing despite this. The levels are on the shorter side and don’t demand perfection, making them palatable in addition to being complementary to the story. M.I.R.A.I. has a decent enough story that was worth going through. But sometimes it can be just a single piece that defines the full experience. In this case, Lost in Harmony became a recommendable title thanks to a touching tale between a boy and a girl.