Lost: Via Domus Review
Lost: Via Domus is a third person action-adventure game from Ubisoft that takes place on the mysterious Island that Oceanic flight 815 crashes on. Lost introduces some new characters and tells a story of which has not been covered in the Lost TV series, features many important and memorable scenes from Lost and delivers a genuine Lost experience.
The strongest aspect of Lost: Via Domus is the story. In Lost, you play as Elliot the photojournalist, a flight 815 survivor who is suffering from Amnesia after the plane crash. As Elliot, your main goal is to try and remember your past, why were you on the plane, who you are and who is the girl you keep seeing. Trying to remember your past is not the sole storyline though, you also take part in many of the iconic scenes from the first season of Lost including entering the infamous numbers into the computer. Along with the numbers scene, there are several moments throughout the game that fans of the show will look fondly on. There are really two separate storylines in Lost, the past and present. The storyline involving the past is when Elliot is desperately trying to regain his memory, and the storyline of the present coincides with the storylines of the main Lost show that any fans will be familiar with and it mainly consists of Elliot trying to get off of the island, as any stranded survivor should.
The way in which the story is told is quite integral to the enjoyment of the game. The basic set up for the game is seven episodes. At the start of each episode, you get a highlights reel from the previous episode/s and on the whole, this is great. It feels like you are watching an episode of the TV show when you hear "Previously on Lost" followed by a montage of events. On top of that, the 'past' storyline is told through cut scenes, which any fan of Lost will surely pick up on and appreciate the story a little bit more. The cut scenes are interactive where you can control Elliot in order to get a photograph of a moment that will help you regain memory. These things together make a more authentic Lost experience and one that creates more enjoyment to the game's story. While the story does intertwine with the events of the TV show, you do not have to have knowledge of the show before playing the game, although if you haven't seen the show you will be missing out on many of the references, and the characters from the show won't seen as important. You do not get to know many of the characters during the course of the game and while that is fine if you are a fan of the show and know their personalities anyway, if you do not know them then they will seem boring and rather pointless.
Speaking of which, the 'Losties' should be a highlight of the game but the truth of the matter is, they aren't. For one, the characters from the show do not play much of an important part in the story. The story in present time does revolve around some actions of them, but on the whole, they seem pretty unimportant. Secondly, the character models look down right bad. While some of the characters look pretty alike the TV show counterparts, some others just plain do not. The characters that the game introduces look pretty good, but then again, they aren't meant to look like anybody from the show. The worst thing about the Lost characters though, and probably the game, is the voice acting. From the first time you hear Kate's 'voice', you pick up on just how bad the voice acting is, and that feeling continues right up and there are only a couple of characters that actually sound like their show counterparts. The best voice acting in the game comes from Elliot, but again, he isn't meant to represent a character from the show. The voice acting is so bad that the subtitles for dialogue come as a relief so you can turn down the volume and not have to put up with the awful voice acting. The bad voice acting would not be such a disappointment if the game was not meant to be part of the Lost universe where these characters have such distinct voices in the show.
Perhaps the bad voice acting could be forgiven if the gameplay made up for it, but it fails on that front too. While it is kind of cool at the start of the game to walk around the beach that becomes your new home on the island, it grows old pretty fast. You walk around the beach and have to talk to characters to get hints or trade items and then you head off into the jungle in order to progress. This starts to get a bit tedious, especially when you reach your destination only to find a fuse box puzzle waiting to be solved. The puzzles are pretty annoying most of the time because you have to find fuses around the area in order to complete the puzzle, and they can be pretty easy to miss which means you search round an area over and over just to find one little thing to complete a puzzle. Another gameplay element that was thrown in was avoiding the smoke monster when out in the jungle. This is more frustrating than it is an extra challenge. You can jump into trees to provide cover if it gets close to you, but even when it looks like it has flown off, it can come out of nowhere again, then once you have lost it, you have also lost where you were going and have to backtrack, only to get found by the monster again. The thrills of the chase kind of wears off after the first time you escape it. The main problem with the gameplay of Lost is just how similar it all seems, there is little to no variety in what you are doing and considering the game only lasts 5-6 hours makes it even worse. What makes matters even worse is the fact that there is no replay value. Once you have finished the story, you have finished everything the game has to offer, and while the story is good, you won't need to play it a second time. Shorter games are becoming more and more common but the fact that Lost: Via Domus has no replay value what so ever makes it even harder to like and even harder to recommend.
The graphics and sound are a mixed bag. The environmental graphics are pretty crisp and the beach, jungle,caves and any environment in general looks pretty nice. The problem with the graphics arises when you look at the character models. None of them look that good and they just look rough around the edges most of the time, especially for the characters from the TV show. The sound (aside from voice acting) on the other hand is constantly fantastic! A lot of tense atmosphere is built up through the use of the soundtrack and just the sound effects in general. For instance, if you are in a dark cave and you run out of torches, you begin to hear something creep up on your position and if you don't light a new torch fast enough, you soon realize you aren't alone in the cave. It's not just tension that the soundtrack is good for creating though, but when it's a slow and calm moment in the game, there is a lovely musical score running through the background. Lost: Via Domus definitely follows in the TV show's footsteps of good music, which is a relief.
Overall, Lost: Via Domus really only offers a story, but when that story only lasts a few hours, you would expect good character models and good voice acting at the very least, but you do not get that in Lost. Together with boring and tedious gameplay, it makes it hard to recommend Lost to anybody outside of the Lost loop, and even if you do like Lost the show, there is definitely no guarantee you will like Lost: Via Domus. The soundtrack is fantastic and hardcore Lost fans will get a genuine Lost experience from the story, but other than that, the game offers nothing of great value, especially if you do not follow the TV show.