It feels like 2016 is going to be a grand year for mobile gaming because the year started with some pretty intense and superior titles launching, and French developers behind Digixart Entertainment, co-creator of Valiant Hearts, rightfully take the glory for their hard and ingenious work. Powerful, spectacular and engrossing, Lost in Harmony is definitely one of the best mobile games as of late.
It’s 21st century, and it feels like nearly every family has experienced the loss of a loved one to cancer, be it a relative or a friend. It reaps its bloody harvest without politesse to wealth or age. Lost in Harmony narrates a story of a young love and a tragic loss. As the illness takes its toll on a 15-year old Aya, her best friend Kaito is there for her, but there is not much he can do except for visiting her at the hospital.
As the months go by, Kaito and Aya get to realize the inevitability, and Kaito escapes the painful reality into his dreams. He puts on his headphones and drifts off into the music, dreaming of a fantasy world where Aya is not sick. With Aya on his back, Kaito rides his skateboard across the futuristic cities, apocalyptic scenes, escaping disasters, wars, gangs, wild animals. With each dream, they go deeper into denial and escapism. They shoot to the stars, or dive deep into a volcanic vortex.
However, everything seems to be against them. Short periods of tranquility and fun are followed by massive onslaught of attacks. Even birds and asteroids aim to hit them off the track.
At the end of each ride, they watch the sky. There is this one particularly bright star, or a constellation. Aya lifts her hands to reach for it, and every time she does it, she fades a little more. One more time and she walks into the light.
This heartbreaking story is perfectly integrated into the gameplay. Being a music game, and a runner, Lost in Space sees you controlling Kaito as he auto-rides different tracks with spectacular environments.
Kaito rides right onto you, so you can see what’s coming at him from behind – cars, choppers, birds, boars, bombs, and a multitude of other deadly things, depending on the dream.
Then, there are obstacles coming onto Kaito, the ones you can’t see. The game signals their coming with arrows, large and small.
The lower left and right areas are the direction controls. You need to tap and hold for better precision. Swipe up to jump in time and overcome the incoming obstacles on the road.
Most importantly, feel the music. Lost in Harmony has an outstanding score of remixes of classical music and one amazing track Lost in Time by Wyclef Jean, written specifically for the game. The remixes are wonderful, and each dream has a slew of tracks that range in emotions, intensity and gameplay difficulty.
Once you realize you need to listen to the music to do better at dodging obstacles, you will get the knack of the gameplay. When you start swiping to jump to the beat, and swaying left and right to the melody, you realize you dodge obstacles and collect the star dust a lot better than by just registering the visual signs.
Another challenge is to tap the stars in the upper area to match the rhythm or melody of the music. Some stars require just timely tap, some swipe in the right direction with the right speed, and some are duo-stars that need to be pressed in sync.
The game calculates your score based on the music stars and combos, and how well you avoid obstacles. Get hit by one, and it chips away from your total score. There are also several light spheres across the track that you need to collect. These give you a significant boost in score.
This all boils down to a pretty intense twitch gameplay that tests your reflexes and music touch. Needless to say, you are going to need your both hands and preferably all fingers. So, it’s best played with your device placed either on an even table, or positioned on a holder with a slight angle. Playing when holding the device in your hands is utterly impossible. It’s not a con per se, just a note to keep in mind.
The story mode is playable offline, and consists of 13 dreams and story cut scenes in between. Each dream has two difficulty modes, and several grades of success in each. You fail if you don’t cover 50% of the track successfully avoiding obstacles and collecting stars.
In some areas, dodging obstacles seems impossible, and that, too, makes perfect sense. Because even though it’s an escape, you still can’t get away from life and all the stuff that sometimes nukes you down.
The community playtracks mode is a world of its own, and you need a connection to explore it. User-crafted levels with different music and optional challenges and music stars to collect feature the best score, and if you beat it you will be featured the next time someone plays the track. The number of the tracks in the community library grows exponentially.
And then, there is the level editor, where you can create your own track. Choose the music from your local library (this method did not work for me) or from Soundcloud. There is a convenient in-built search option, so you can easily find the one you want on Soundcloud. Once the track is downloaded to your account, you can start customizing the play.
Landscapes, music stars placement and timing, obstacles and star dust placement – you really have room to expand and excel. On a side note, the community library and level editor could use a little more stability improvement. Sometimes they take too long to load, and freeze. You can also record and publish your walkthrough with Everyplay.
The replayability is ample in Lost in Harmony, even though you will cover the story mode in a day. There is always room to improve your score in each dream, both in Normal and Hard modes. In addition, you will have your favorite dreams. I think I could play Rampage endlessly. To think of it, an endless mode with an hour-long trippy, sci-fi score is missing here. Does anyone from the community feel like making it? Multiply that by the level editor and community tracks, and you have a favorite music twitch game that’s gorgeous and emotional. Lost in Harmony is a game to show off to your friends.
That said, the game is totally worth a purchase. Android users can try the free demo version that features 4 dreams. Everything else is locked to the full version, including the community tracks and level editor.
The artwork is stellar and offers a slew of beautiful, hand-drawn environments and Big Hero 6-reminiscent style in characters. You can also purchase a different outfit for Kaito (boards, hats, headphones and clothes), and each item costs $0.99.
- Emotional story, easy to relate to
- Brilliant music
- Gorgeous design
- Addicting, unique gameplay
- Excellent replay value
- Two difficulty modes
- Level editor
- Community-created tracks
- Story mode plays offline
The level editor may crash the game
Lost in Harmony can be depressing, especially to those directly affected by similar events. It’s good to know where things are headed even from the four levels available in the free demo, so you can decide for yourself if it’s anywhere you want to go. If yes, you won’t regret the purchase because the game is a wealth of fine music, intense reflex-based gameplay and spectacular visuals. It’s challenging enough without being inaccessible, yet the hardcore gamers will find the elevated difficulty mode delightful. The community tracks and level editor add more replayability to the catchy story mode, and the end result is a game too easy to recommend. Don’t miss it.