Lost: Via Domus

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Lost: Via Domus

  • 06 June, 2018
  • By Admin: Frederick Wilson
  • Comments: 00

NOTE: This review is for both the XBOX 360 and Playstation 3 versions of Lost: Via Domus

If you’re a fan of Lost (the television series), there is no doubt that you’ve been quietly anticipating Lost: Via Domus, the video-game adoption of the show, for XBOX 360 and Playstation 3. If the game were to be anything like the television show it’s based on, it would be surreal, uncanny and frustratingly deep ended. Well, I can say that yes, the game is all of those things. It grasps the eerie feeling of clueless-ness that the characters portray in the show, the bright yet strangely weird effects of the jungle atmosphere and the seemingly never-ending abundance of twists and turns that have somewhat plagued the show ever since it began. So, Via Domus has the feel one would think a game based on Lost should have, but does it have the gameplay and is this game just as entertaining as the show?

Lost: Via Domus is based around the first few seasons of the television show. It jumps over time and instances in the series quickly yet convincingly and anyone familiar with the layout of the show will recognise particular occurrences that appear in the game (Jack running around the beach trying to help survivors, for example). The game is split out into seven episodes that mimic the basic layout of the television series. At the beginning of each, you’ll have the famous “Previously on Lost” voice-over, with a bunch of cut-scenes that occurred during the previous episode of gameplay. It gives the beginning and end of the episodes an authentic feel of the show and it looks pretty cool. Of course, those of you not familiar with Lost won’t appreciate it as much, along with almost everything else this game has to offer. That’s because Via Domus, like the show, is a whole bunch of twists, turns and loose ends. It incorporates instances from the show that will make absolutely no sense unless you’re familiar with the series.

You play as a freelance photographer who has crash-landed on the island along with many other survivors. He suffers amnesia caused by the crash and heads off to find out more about himself and the secrets of the island. Sounds very Lost, doesn’t it?

I guess the best word to describe the storyline of both the television series and this game is “difficult”, because no review, albeit even a really long one, would be able to explain what it’s all about. But that’s what makes it so good. It’s not necessarily a series that can be watched mid-season because it barely reveals any of the countless secrets it has on offer. Yet it plays on these secrets and keeps you coming back for more. I guess this illustrates the purpose of Via Domus. The show already has a devout following and, unlike many other shows, it’s doubtful that anyone will just fall into it halfway through season 4 without having watched the other seasons. So perhaps this game is an ode to the fan base, a thank-you to everyone who has stayed true and patient with the plots and characters.

So, the game itself has a lot of the look and feel that the show has. That’s great, because many movie-to-game and TV-to-game adoptions fail to grasp what it is exactly that they’re based on. The gameplay, however, is a mixed bag. Like the presentation, it does in some instances grasp the feeling of the show. For instance, conversation with other characters is set out well. You have a set of questions you can ask, split up into “General” and “Quest” questions. General are just random questions about other characters and locations around the island. Quest questions are aimed to assist you in achieving your goal. Many of the responses given by the characters perfectly recreate the feeling of the show. For example, many of Sawyer’s responses are sarcastic and abusive, while Jack’s are informative and wise. Locke gives strange and insightful responses, while Kate gives calm and peaceful responses. This will sit well with those familiar with the characters, but anyone new to the series may not appreciate the direction of the conversation. Sometimes they don’t really lead you anywhere and, like I mentioned above, they seem to be put in there as an ode to the fans.

Some character’s will also have a trade option where you can trade items you’ve found around the island – like coconuts, water bottles and food cans – for other useful items, like torches, guns, fuel and a lighter. Fans will already know which characters will have the trade option available as it falls in line with their actions on the show, but I’ll leave it for the rest of you to discover yourselves. It is an adventure game, after all.

You’ll have to choose your items carefully as many areas of the landscape call for particular items, such as the caves, which can be hard to navigate through if you don’t have some light. There’s also something creeping in the darkness that will attack you if you aren’t surrounded by light. The falling water and flying bats will cause a bit of angst, especially if your torch is running low on burning ability, as they knock out any light you have. These cave exploration areas can at times be challenging to get through and will have you on the edge of your seat as you try to navigate through the abundance of possible routes. They keep you on your toes and have a Lost feel about them.

While the cave areas can be rather challenging and enjoyable, the one area that one would think would thrive in this game, the jungle, fails to entertain in even the slightest. The game isn’t overly linear but you do have a set-direction to head in. However, you have to follow set markers, which point you in the right direction. It sounds easy enough, but the markers are often impossible to see at first glance because they blend in with the surroundings. Couple that with the fact that the black smoke monster (I’m not even going to try and explain that one) is waiting in the bushes to attack you at any moment, and you have an area that tries to be tough and exciting, but is instead tedious, repetitive and frustrating.

The puzzles that come coupled with any decent adventure game are a plenty in Lost: Via Domus. So yes, there are puzzles in this game. That is, one puzzle re-used a number of times. There will be instances where you have to reconfigure a fuse box using fuses. There are three different fuses, each of which has a set number of voltage capacity. You must reconfigure and guide the set number of voltage into each junction, all of which have a specific number of voltage. When a junction is green, the voltage is correct. If it’s any other colour, you have to change around the fuses and input the correct one. They might not sound overly challenging, but they can take a little while to figure out. Overall, they are good puzzles that’ll get you thinking. I would have been happier with more then one puzzle type, but this does do the job. The sad thing however is that there is no time limit. It’s strange, because other survivor’s will be rushing you to “re-direct the fuel line”, yet you could leave your Playstation 3 running all night and it wouldn’t make a difference. It takes away some challenge.

There isn’t all that much action in Via Domus, which is weird considering the hostility between characters. There are two chase scenes where you run through the jungle while avoiding obstacles, but neither is exciting and overly challenging. I might also mention that you should stay away from the $110 gun available for trade, as you can probably get through the game without having to use it. I had to use it twice throughout and it didn’t justify giving up my food supply and water for (not that you can eat in the game, anyway).

The flashbacks, which are an integral part of the television show, are implemented into the gameplay well, although your characters entire story is pointless. Because he is suffering from amnesia, he tries to remember certain occurrences in his past to trigger his memory. You’re placed into a fuzzy recreation of an instance, where you must take a specific photo that will make you remember. You’re shown the photo before this begins, but it’s all chopped up and shuffled around. It’s not all that difficult to do, but it’s cool and once you do take the required photo, the flashbacks are done well to mimic those used in the show. It’s a pity that his story does nothing for the game itself, much like Kate’s back-story in the actual TV show. The story itself, beyond your character’s lacklustre back-story, is great and it’s worth playing through this game if you’re a fan for the story alone. The ending gives off a little insight into the secrets of the island and it’s very interesting for those who know what’s going on.

The environment of the jungle is gorgeous. The landscape is lush and green and the draw distance is fairly impressive. There is some obvious screen-tear however and it’s especially noticeable when running through the jungle. The game is only further brought down though by the lacklustre character design and presentation. Many of the characters, namely Hurley, are cringe-worthy and look out of place when compared to the amazing environment. The presentation of the game, from the in-game menus to the conversation and trade pop-ups, captures the presentation and feel of the show.

Fans of the show will be pleased to know that the game has all of the orchestral sounds from the series. The soundtrack is emotional and eerie and only further gives this game the “Lost” feel; the soundtrack is exactly the same as the shows. It’s fortunate then that Ubisoft has been able to capture the story essence and character personalities perfectly from the show. However, the lack of voice-over authenticity is very disappointing considering the calibre of the television series. Many of the main characters, such as Locke, Jack, Kate and Sawyer, all have sound-alike voices. Locke sounds like a 70 year-old with false teeth, Jack sounds like he’s permanently reading off a teleprompter and Sawyer sounds like a 1970s Texas porn star. Beyond this however, their reactions towards your character do mimic those of the real-life counterparts in the television show.