Friday, March 28, 2008

Lost: Via Domus

More like Lost: Via Dumbass LOL amirite?!?! Lost: Via Domus is a game in which...well, for starters, it's barely even a game at all. It's more like a checklist of inputs that you enter using a gamepad. There is, at least for me, no enjoyment to be gleaned from the "gameplay" of Lost: Via Domus. There are only two reasons to play it--only one if you're not a fan of the show. The first reason is that, yeah, if you're a fan of Lost, it's kinda cool to walk around inside the hatch. The second reason is damn, those are some easy points.

It's especially disappointing to me because, while watching Lost, I was frequently reminded of some of my favorite adventure game experiences, and Myst in particular. Sure enough, according to Lostpedia (which can't possibly be wrong), it seems that Myst has been an influence on at least some of the show's writers. A show that has so many adventure game elements built right into it has great potential as the basis for an adventure game. Unfortunately, Lost: Via Domus fails utterly to capitalize on this potential. Firstly, the puzzles, so vital to any engaging adventure game experience, suck. (There's really only one kind of puzzle in the game, involving these panels into which you need to place fuses which you find all over the island. They start out simple and become increasingly complex but never become interesting.)

Equally disappointingly, the story sucks. It takes the form of a series of Lost episodes, and just like actual Lost episodes, each game episode involves a flashback to an event that happened to your character before he boarded that fateful flight. But the game seems to miss the whole point for these flashbacks. The reason why these flashbacks are so effective on the show is that they provide insight into the characters' pasts that helps us understand them in the present, that illuminates their behavior and their interaction with the other survivors. It's that interaction with other survivors, the complex web of relationships that's formed between them on the island, that makes Lost so compelling. And here, your interactions with other characters couldn't feel more rote or insignificant. Sure, each character does their schtick. Sawyer uses lots of nicknames. Locke says "Don't tell me what I can't do!" Charlie sings "Hey All Everybody!" But there are no meaningful relationships formed whatsoever. When the game hints in the later stages at some sort of connection between your character and Kate, it comes across as ridiculous, because you've hardly interacted with her, or anyone else, for any length of time.

Normally I'm opposed to using FAQs, but that's because normally I find that they take some of the fun out of playing a game. There's no fun to be found in playing Lost: Via Domus to begin with, so after a short while I resorted to a FAQ just to make sure I didn't miss any achievements and could spare myself having to play through any part of the game again. The only thing Lost: Via Domus gets right is some of the locations, particularly the all-important hatch. The gameplay is tedious and dreary, the characters are completely underdeveloped (and some of them look downright freakish), and the relationships are non-existent. Mercifully, the whole game can be completed in just a few hours.

Review score: 4/ 4 8 15 16 23 42


Keith Jones said...

That's too bad. Although, I must say that any curiousity I had for this game deflated at the mention of Myst. Yeah, I'm one of *those* haters. Good deal that it's easy points though!

Aaron said...

Which do you think is higher, the percentage of successful video game to movie spin-offs or the percentage of successful movie to video game spin offs?