The Lost and the Wicked is part of a new initiative set out by Top Hat Studios to try and bring underrepresented and grassroots indie games to the forefront by releasing “indie packs” onto consoles that are centered on four games at a time. Volume one contains this game, A Tale of Anna, Fires at Midnight, and Vision Soft Reset, which we will also be reviewing. These games have been released on other platforms like Steam, but the hope is that by getting them onto consoles, it will bring them the exposure they are desperately looking for.

It’s an extremely positive idea and one that I hope is successful, as it’s brought me to play a (spoilers) great game that I would never have had the chance to experience if it wasn’t for this scheme. 

But onto the game in question and The Lost and the Wicked is a twin-stick bullet hell shooter game that was released on Steam way back in March 2022. Developed by just two people, it takes you to a world filled with monsters that are out to destroy you, and the main reason is a complete mystery. 

You see, the main character has amnesia and is trying to piece together why they have found themselves in this weird, hellish world and how to get out of it. Of course, you as the player are figuring all this out with them, and that just heightens your confusion about everything going on around you. But don’t take that as a bad thing, on the contrary, it is a successful ingredient in making this work.

The basic structure of the game is that you are thrown into a succession of maze-like rooms, each having one of four randomly chosen missions for you to achieve; once completed, you can move onto the next room. If you die, you have to complete all those rooms again unless you have reached the checkpoint room, nicely placed in the middle of the row. At the end of the row of rooms is a boss fight. These are actually pretty challenging, so it’s important to make sure you upgrade yourself along the way.

To do that, you use coins that you collect as you mow your way through the hordes of evil, and they are spent through the skill “net” that you come across during your run and every time you die. There are four areas to upgrade – health, stamina, damage, and (interestingly) a coin multiplier. I kept ignoring stamina through my playthrough, seeing the others as more important, but I was a fool, as it can really make a difference. Stamina powers up your shift function, where you can quickly skip a short distance and through thin walls. This was very handy, especially in boss fights. Stamina also powers up your run function, which gets your little person moving as their usual walk pace is slightly slow.

Once a boss is defeated, you earn a new ability, with three in total to collect. Slow down, shield, and, my favourite, the chance to use all your guns at once. Not only was this one fun, but it was very effective, especially, as you’ve probably guessed, in the boss battles. These all last for a short period of time, leaving you to wait for it to charge up so you can use it again.

To protect you and to help destroy all these weird and wonderful creations, you have a collection of guns at your disposal, which are kindly dropped by the creatures when they die. You always have a pistol with unlimited ammo, but the rest are temporary, with a little health bar to show you how much longer you have with that particular gun. These weapons range from automatic rifles to machine guns, shotguns, a weird gun that shoots little green projectiles, and a harpoon gun. Reloading is automatic, but each weapon has a different reload speed, so you need to keep that in mind as you try to avoid death. 

Other aspects of The Lost and the Wicked are quieter moments in between areas, where you talk to other NPC’s and do other tasks to progress the storyline. Most of this occurs in a hub, which also contains the buildings which house the rooms you explore and battle the monsters in. There are other quieter moments, but I feel I shouldn’t mention those as they do contain spoilers for the story.

And this story is as dark and unsettling as the game itself can seem. The game does not contain a content warning, and everything is always implied, but it’s clear we go into addiction, death, war, and other heavy tragedies. These are sensitive areas, and although the developers are trying to relay an important message, some people may find some or all of these areas distressing, so maybe a warning at the beginning of the game might prove useful.

All this is shown through simple lo fi graphics, akin to what you may expect to find on a Spectrum. This may turn some people off from playing it, but I do find some appeal in this style, and although the game looks simple on the outside, a lot is going on inside, to the point that I did run into some performance issues during my playthrough. The game really struggled in the last third, with terrible slowdown not only when there was a lot of action on the screen, but also when you started a new room. It lasted for a few seconds, and the game would come back to life, but it was not expected at all as the game beforehand ran perfectly. I’d be interested to find out if this is isolated to the console ports or whether this is a Steam issue too. An addition I would like to see is something to signify that the game is loading. Many times I was greeted with a black screen for a period of time, and I wasn’t sure whether the game was doing something or had just crashed. 

But you will find that you want to persevere through these small issues, as the gameplay is what really shines throughout The Lost and the Wicked. I really enjoyed the loop of clearing rooms, upgrading, exploring the plot, and then repeating. I got upset when I died and had to restart, but then I couldn’t put it down until I got to the checkpoint. It really has that one more go feeling, catching myself saying, “I’ll just do one more room before I finish for the day”. The boss fights were also a highlight. They were challenging, and I died a lot, but when you finally defeated it, boy, that adrenaline filled punch in the air was very satisfying, and I only realised afterwards that my hands slightly hurt from where I had been gripping the Joy Con too hard. 

The atmosphere I felt while all this was happening was one I hadn’t felt since The Binding of Isaac, with its dark plotline and strange creatures, but it was the music that really nailed that feeling. These low, creepy, murky tones gave the game that extra something to make it as unique as possible. There were some pieces that were filled with more beats, which I appreciated during the more intense battles, so all in all, the soundtrack was a great complement to everything else. 



The Lost and the Wicked is a game that will leave its mark, from the action to the story and its simplistic aesthetics. Its short runtime of around four hours is perfect, and although the performance issues do dampen it slightly, it’s not enough to make it unplayable. You will hopefully enjoy your time with The Lost and the Wicked, it is a lot of fun, but just be prepared for the dark tones of the plot and the lasting effects it will have on you. 

The Lost and the Wicked

Release Date: 30th June 2023

Price: £8.99 (Switch), £8.39 (Xbox) £16.75 (Steam), £7.19 (PlayStation)

Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One & Xbox Series S/X