Lost: Via Domus
One Day In the not-too-distant past, two or three of JJ Abrams' most trusted henchmen sat down with Ubisoft's finest to discuss the game that would become Lost: Via Domus. That game must have sounded amazing. For a start, the story - that of an amnesiac photographer with a dark past who goes largely untrusted by the island's residents, is truly worthy of the TV show itself.
After this power-meeting, the Hollywood creatives would have high-fived their way out of the room, leaving some enthusiastic developers gradually teetering towards the realisation of the task ahead of them. An average episode of Lost is two-fifths chat and three-fifths running away from things and hiding, generally encompassing about two gunshots worth of action. So where's the game?
At this point in the discussion one of the developers would have stood up and screamed at the ceiling, "How about having the game largely consist of picking up coconuts, answering maths questions and solving problems with GCSE-level electrical circuitry?" His companions would then have grunted an affirmative, before continuing to pick nits out of each others' luxuriant fur and eating them.
Lost: Via Domus' story is genuinely interesting. The best thing about it. as with the series, is the clever integration of flashbacks in which you learn about your character's dark past. The game proper, however, is a collection of mini-games and dire third-person adventuring that should have died in the plane crash. For a start, for the most part it's not even the original cast doing the voices - and they seemed to have shipped Bobby Davro in on some sort of joblot deal. Your character's televisual absences are explained away by you never being around at major points in the TV series, but this doesn't matter too much as you barely speak to anyone anyway.
More often than not you share one single conversation with major characters in the show (Sun, Jin, Desmond, Clare...) and always with the same generic one sentence, one answer stock questions. What's more, some of the castaways may look the part (like Kate and Sayid), but others bear no resemblance to any human that has walked the Earth. Hurley looks like a bestial mix of pug-dog and bubble-throated amphibian. In fact, at one point, my girlfriend walked in while I was playing and genuinely asked "Why have they made Michael blind?", convinced that his massive swaying eyes and inability to focus were a style twist rather than blundering animated nightmare.
The only high spot in the gameplay (repeat the only high spot) is when you're put under pressure to tap in those fabled numbers. Beyond that it's simply a case of deadening, infuriating and constant running away from smoke monsters and continual undergrowth gunfire resulting in repeated insta-death, time and time again. 'Game over' screens appear relentlessly. You have been shot You fell down a deep dark pit. You tried to do something the game engine was not expecting and it threw a wobbler over. In fact, the closing scenes genuinely require you to fail several times so you can watch what happens once it's game over, anticipate it and prevent it from happening. How broken is that as a concept?
Beyond its strangely grey-tinged jungles and monotonous wrong-sounding residents, where the game really falls down are the awful, awful puzzles. The nadir of this, the Mariana trench-deep slough of despond puzzle, is a cross between Pipe Mania and the bits of physics lessons you never listened to, slotting fuses into a wonky circuit board and trying to get the right amount of power into each part of it. Done once it's an average puzzle, done twice and it's an annoyance - done six or seven times throughout the four-hour game (five including 'stuck-time') you'll get a Pavlovian feeling of looming drqad whenever you see a casually discarded fuse left on a work surface.
Essentially what's wrong with Lost: Via Domus is that while its concept and story are gripping, the gameplay is as distant from the concept of fun as a bucket of pig shit is from boiled lobster. Sitting at a keyboard answering basic mathematical sequence problems? Woo bloody hoo. Stop me while I rock gently back and forward in the sheer excitement of it all.
Had they got in an interesting developer with jungle-friendly credentials (say Michel Ancel the King Kong man) Lost Via Domus had the promise of being something different and something ' engaging. As it stands it's the least fun I've had since I had a catheter fitted during a spell in hospital.
Download Lost: Via Domus
Systems: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game features:Single game mode