There are a few things in life that I can't stand, most video games based on movies, comics and TV shows fall into this bracket. Yet, there are the odd games that rise above the murk and shine, Riddick on the old Xbox was a good example and that was a really good game. However, I'm a fan of Lost and that's never a good start when you pick up a game based on something you like, sure, Lost is confusing and we get the feeling that the writers might just be smoking dope in a dark room, giggling to themselves and sending rude emails to each other around the office rather than working on a story.
It works though, it's got a huge fan base and now Ubisoft have brought Lost: Via Domus, Lost: the Video game to our 360's. It's an ambitious little project that's over in around five hours of dedicated play and I get the feeling this isn't aimed towards the rabid video game elite who feverishly devour the next release in a torrent of frenzied button hammering, like some kind of shark going in for the kill. It's aimed at fans of the show.
Let's get the bad out of the way right from the start here. We're talking a measly five hours of gaming time with a bunch of gamerscore points earned for doing nothing much, it's a ticket to an extra 1,000 without much trouble. The voice acting is a mix of good and bad. The controls are not so much clunky as badly designed, I guess Ubi don't really mind considering by the time you're actually any good with them, the game's over and you're left wondering if you should have shelled out your hard earned cash for it or not.
Even though it's short, for a Lost fan it's pretty much worth it. I'm only going to say that you play a survivor of Oceanic Flight 815 who is a new character to the series. The plot has been conceived by the show's executive producers and it's just as twisty-mind-bendy as the show. I'm going to do what we tend to do here too, I'm giving nothing away at all, not even the characters from the show that you're going to meet.
Lost is a 3d adventure game with lots of puzzles, puzzles based on numbers (ewww maths) and puzzles where you have to fix things by routing power around with fuses and so on. Nothing we haven't seen before in oh say, Resident Evil and Onimusha style games. What Lost does nicely is involves you in flashbacks, these are information gathering exercises via the camera and then a quick search for clues, once you return to the present you'll be able to use the information you have to get even more answers (and provide more questions) from the character you're interacting with.
The dialogue system harkens back to the adventure days of the good old point and click, in fact Lost feels like a 3d point and click adventure game at times and this is probably why I didn't hate it at all. It has nothing to do with me being a massive fanboy of the TV series and eating up anything the show can throw at me, nope, because if that was the case the game would have earned a better review and a glowing 9/10 at least.
You need to keep an eye on your surroundings for items to trade, you're going to want to get lanterns or torches since a few of the game's sections require you to explore dark caverns and are done with Lost's trademark creepy feel. Death is fairly certain in these areas unless you have a light or a supply of torches.
Lost has numerous little things that break up the main adventure, exploring the jungle by using markers is just one of the segments that stands out. It's tricky at first and there are lots of dead ends, some with useful items. If you get too lost though you can return to a previous checkpoint (the game's kind like that). There are also chase sequences, vaulting logs and so on to liven things up a little bit as you explore the Island.
The problem is as I mentioned before, the mechanics and the controls needed refinement. They can be a bit clumsy and whilst you are returned to a checkpoint if you fail or die, you are often returned at the wrong side of a scene you can't skip. Come on people, you need to make a skip button for folks who tire of seeing the same long scene over and over again!
The graphics in the game are pretty damn good, the characters look like their counterparts mostly and the environments are excellent. There are a few hitches here and there and some of the areas aren't as detailed as they could be. In the cave sections the use of lighting is excellent and it really lends to the creepy atmosphere as you struggle to explore the dank areas whilst avoiding hazards and ever-present death.
The environments outside, like the jungle and the crash itself are fantastically detailed, lush and have several truly magnificent locales to view. It's really quite breathtaking and this alone gives the game the extra push it needs to appeal to the Island explorer. If you marry this to the spot effects, ambient sounds and the use of music and dynamic sound effects you get a pretty visual and aural picture that makes up for the story's short nature and the game's lack of mechanical depth.
The voice work is a mixed bag and it's not as though the developers got in every member of the cast, you'll find that it's passable though and there's a lot of in-jokes in the game for fans of the show, you'll laugh, you'll cry and you'll probably swear at some of the game.
If you're not a fan of Lost then you're going to either want to rent this, watch at least two seasons of the show and then play it or skip it all together. If you're a Lost fan then you might find the game's use of show based locations and the extra locales that are based on ideas from the show, adding to the show's official canon as to what goes on there and what they look like.
I think this is the main draw of Lost; it fills in the gaps in certain areas and starts a fan asking even more questions. You want more and more of it, even though the controls often make you want to scream and throw the controller at times. You still want to watch the story and get through to the end, just so you can see if there's another little easter egg or a tantalising glimpse into the Island's life and character's past.
The problem is that the game's over all too quickly and you're left thinking, if only there were a few more hours it might have been completely worth it. Sure, snagging missing information and findables might add a bit of replay but in the end it boils down to how much of a fan of the show you are, if you want to play through the whole thing again to immerse yourself in Lost's world.