Review: Lost in Harmony (Switch)

A unique, musical journey.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 07/25/2018 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Nontraditional storyline; solid gameplay; strong graphics; good options for gamers of different interests and skill levels
Poison Mushroom for...
Story might be a bit somber for the genre; jumping with the "B" button can get cumbersome; difficulty can be a bit uneven

The wonderful thing about rhythm games is that entries in the genre tend to offer very diverse experiences from one another. Whether it’s the plastic instrument craze that spawned titles like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, or quirkier options like Elite Beat Agents and Floor Kids, the genre has offered gamers a lot of variety over the last decade or so. Lost in Harmony is yet another unique offering, combining traditional rhythm gameplay with the mechanics of an endless runner and an emotional storyline.

Lost in Harmony is essentially broken up into two games. The main quest, Kaito’s Adventure, places players in the role of Kaito, a young boy with a friend named Aya who is suffering from cancer. The entirety of Kaito and Aya’s story plays out between each level, as the two teens exchange text messages, giving the narrative a feel somewhat reminiscent of A Normal Lost Phone. As the months go by and their story unfolds, the pair journey together through their dreams. Each level in Lost in Harmony takes place within those dreams, with Kaito literally carrying Aya on his back as they travel through a number of diverse locations; futuristic cities, sand-covered beaches, and even the stars in space are but a few of the places the pair explore on their journey together. No matter where Kaito and Aya explore, the game’s strong 2D visuals make each location pop off the screen, belying the game’s mobile roots.

Each stage is framed as an endless runner, with Kaito and Aya constantly moving forward on the former’s skateboard. Players not only have to navigate past level-specific obstacles (such as trucks, asteroids, motorcycles, and even Tetrominoes), but also tap Switch’s four face buttons as they cross the screen, similar to most traditional rhythm games. These segments are mostly separate in each level, with part of a song dedicated to avoiding objects along the way, and then button prompts coming up, or vice versa. Players will go back-and-forth between these segments throughout the duration of each dream. For the most part, the game does a good job making it easy to transition; when prompts aren’t on the screen, three of the four face buttons don’t do anything. The “B” button, however, pulls double duty, allowing players to jump over obstacles during these segments. Most of the time, players won’t immediately need to jump to avoid an obstacle after a series of button prompts, but it does happen, and that can cause a missed obstacle or note.

The difficulty level in Lost in Harmony is often tied to Aya’s struggle. When she’s doing well, levels tend to be more relaxed. When her prognosis worsens, levels can reflect the emotional state of the two protagonists. As a result, the difficulty level can get a bit uneven, at times, and with so much going on, things can easily get chaotic. Fortunately, the game’s system can also be beneficial to genre newcomers. Points in each level can be accrued through timed button presses, but also by avoiding obstacles and collecting Stardust. Since the game doesn’t solely rely on button-pressing skill, players have plenty of opportunities to make up for the areas that they’re weaker in. Since the game also offers a Hard mode, Lost in Harmony does a good job accommodating players of multiple skill levels.

The music in Kaito’s Adventure is strong, and well implemented in each dream. The majority of the tracks are remixes of classical music, and while that might sound strange, it’s quite fitting, and the tracks are cleverly woven into the gameplay. The title also offers an original track by Wyclef Jean. While the presence of this modern pop song clashes a bit with the rest of the soundtrack, it comes at a good point in the narrative, and it’s rather catchy.

The story in Lost in Harmony has gotten a lot of attention since its initial release on mobile platforms. Its subject matter certainly stands in stark contrast to the normally upbeat themes seen in the majority of rhythm games. That said, the developers deserve credit for touching on a subject so few other games do, and it’s certainly nice to see cancer addressed tactfully, in the game.

In addition to the main game, Lost in Harmony also offers up the mobile version’s DLC pack. M.I.R.A.I. Escape recycles some environments and assets from Kaito’s Adventure, though the two games otherwise share little in the way of connective tissue. M.I.R.A.I. Escape features a storyline that’s a bit more traditional for the genre (though less satisfying), in which a space robot flees its creators while skating across planet Earth. The more sci-fi influenced storyline brings with it a soundtrack that’s more synth-based, ditching the classical remixes for something that will feel a little more familiar for rhythm game fans. The additional content brings an additional degree of difficulty, and some small gameplay additions, including a bit more freedom in level selection. With all these factors, more experienced rhythm game fans will likely enjoy this version more than Kaito’s Adventure. Given the rather short length of Lost in Harmony, the added levels are a welcome addition, regardless.

Lost in Harmony is a solid take on the rhythm genre. Combining the gameplay of an endless runner with traditional timed button press rhythm gameplay, it’s easy to see why the game found acclaim on mobile platforms. Some players might find the game’s storyline a bit somber for a genre that tends to be upbeat more often than not, but developer Digixart deserves credit for delivering a storyline that’s undeniably deeper than most genre fare. The inclusion of the M.I.R.A.I. Escape DLC should also satisfy players looking for a narrative that isn’t so heavy. Regardless of what you’re looking for, Lost in Harmony does a good job finding different ways to appease players of different interests and skill levels. It’s also filled with catchy music and solid controls and, in the rhythm genre, there’s not much more you can ask for.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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