Lost: Via Domus

Brian Munn is a veteran of many a console war. He is so often on the bleeding edge of the latest in gaming that he has to occasionally take time out to nurse his wounds. Recently, he got lost in a game and came up for air with this review.

If you aren’t a die-hard Lost fan to begin with, this game is not going to change your mind about the show. But if, like me, you are obsessed with the ongoing adventures of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, you’ll probably find something to enjoy in Lost: Via Domus.

The developers have managed to capture certain bits of the show’s charm. The game’s story is segmented into 7 original episodes spanning the first two seasons of the show. Like the TV show, each episode begins with a “Previously on Lost” segment and concludes with an “OMG WTF” cliffhanger.

The player controls Elliot, an amnesiac crash survivor. If you find yourself having a Nikki and Paulo moment, wondering just who the hell Elliot is and why you’ve never heard of him, that’s because he was never actually in the show. And just like with Nikki and Paulo, it’s hard to make yourself care about Elliot or his back-story. In fact, the more I learned about Elliot the less I liked him. The guy is a colossal douche. But the story is almost worth trudging through just to get to the head-scratching finale.

As a seasoned Lost fan, I got a kick out of revisiting some of the more memorable areas of the Island. Lost: Via Domus shows a surprising amount of graphical polish for a licensed game. All of the familiar scenery from the TV series is rendered in surprising detail.

It’s a real treat to be able to explore the interior of the hatch and it’s made that much more exciting when the station’s steel doors slam shut and, with klaxons blaring, you have to punch “the numbers” into the computer console. It’s those moments of pure fan-service where the game really shines but it reflects pretty poorly on the quality of the gameplay when my favorite moment involved clumsily punching in a six digit code on an on-screen keyboard.

While the environments are extremely faithful to the show, the characters are another story altogether. Jack, Kate, Sawyer, and the rest of the Losties all look reasonably similar to the actors that portray them in the series. Unfortunately, the developers were only able to wrangle up a handful of the original actors to do voice work on the game, and most of the stand-in voice actors are pretty rubbish. It’s all the more frustrating since you’ll need to navigate through a lot of spoken dialogue in order to advance the plot.

In order to get key items such as lanterns, fuel, and torches (apparently, light is the most precious commodity on the island) you’ll need to trade with the other survivors. Hand Sawyer a bushel of coconuts, a mango, and a couple cases of Dharma branded beer and he’ll give you a handgun (Just like on the TV show!). Don’t get your hopes up too high about that gun, though. You’ll only have two opportunities to fire it and they both end up feeling staged.

Overall, the game is fairly mediocre and, since the show’s producers have already discounted the story as not being an official part of Lost canon, fans won’t be missing out on much by skipping it. It is, however, a decent way to satisfy your Lost cravings in between episodes.

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