Lost Via Domus, to give its proper name, is based around the popular TV series Lost, the highly confusing yet strangely addictive TV hit. Set on a remote island somewhere on Earth (Or is it on Earth?) the survivors of the crash of Oceanic flight 815 spend their time on the island remembering their past, or keeping it hidden, whilst finding all sorts of secrets scattered around the island. TV to game adaptations don’t really have a good history, so does Lost Via Domus pull it off? In short: surprisingly yes, but only just.
Lost Via Domus revolves around a young man who loses his memory during the crash of Oceanic flight 815 and spends the rest of the game regaining his memory and trying to figure out who this young woman is who keeps appearing and then disappearing. The game is split into 7 “episodes”, each with their own “Previously on Lost” beginnings and cliffhanger endings. Filled to the brim with questions and many “What on earth?” moments making you feel like you are watching an episode of Lost.
The game is set to mirror the events of Series 1 and 2, so if you haven’t seen them, I suggest you watch them before playing the game so you can fully understand what is going on. You wake up after the crash in the middle of the jungle. The first thing you notice is how richly detailed the environment and lighting is. Everything from the bayan trees, with their hollow roots making a perfect hiding place, to the vines and even the debris littered around. The light plays through the trees casting glorious shadows on the leaf ridden jungle floor. But wait. You start to move around and this is when it hits you. Lost Via Domus is a lot more linear than you would expect. You thought the jungle from the TV show was weird, with hidden things and strange noises? The one in the game is even weirder. It even has invisible walls!
As you begin to progress through the game, you meet many of the characters of the series such as Jack, Sawyer, Hurley and Kate; Kate being the first to meet. This first meeting introduces you to the conversation mechanics, which are no where near as good as you would think. I was expecting branching conversations, asking one thing which leads to other conversation topics being opened, however this is not the case. I wasn’t expecting the great conversation mechanics of Mass Effect, but I was expecting something a little more than what I was given. The conversations are very repetitive. There are two options, “Quest” and “General”. General lets you find things out about the characters and the island, usually, it seems, ending in a blunt response of, “I don’t want to talk about it.” The Quest options are the ones you need to focus on to progress through the game. By selecting one of the Quest conversations with Kate thrusts you into your first flashback.
Flashbacks are done surprisingly well in Lost Via Domus. You are given a ripped up Polaroid photo with vague clues such as a face or a sign. You have to snap this picture with your camera to remember what happened. A scene plays before you and its up to you to pick the right moment and the right angle to remember exactly what happened. If you miss the moment, the scene rewinds and you can try again. Once you take the right picture, you can collect up to 3 items which reveal more clues, then you are able to watch the scene properly and understand what happens. For example, with the first flashback, you use it to remember that Kate is a fugitive and use that to blackmail her to tell you where the rest of the survivors are.
This is where the game really kicks off. You walk out onto the beach to see plane debris burning, hear people screaming and general chaos all around. This is where you are introduced to the puzzles. You need to redirect the electricity so as to not blow up the fuel. To do this, you must take part in a puzzle similar to the Bioshock mini game, but a lot better. You must use fuses to redirect the power in the correct voltage to the ports. This involves you actually having to think, using maths and logic to work out the correct way to solve it. These puzzles get progressively harder as the game goes along, with multiple ports being added to make it harder – occasionally frustratingly hard.
Lost Via Domus, is mainly an adventure game with a little action involved. The action parts are mildly exciting, but nothing to write home about. They involve running through the forest being chased by “something” and having to jump or slide past branches and logs. The game is adventure at heart and that’s where it excels. Think Broken Sword, but based around Lost. Exploring the jungle trying to find the many Dharma Intitative stations, exploring the stations (even to the point of having to type in The Numbers into the Swan station computer) and exploring dark caves is enjoyable. The cave exploring parts are where you start to see that this game is based on Lost. The tense atmosphere created by the music and subtle sound effects make you feel as if you are exploring the caves in search of a way off the island. The light from your torch, lamp or lighter looks gorgeous against the walls of the cave, adding yet more atmosphere to the game.
The visuals are stunning. Absolutely superb. The jungle looks glorious, the cutscenes look brilliant as do the environments such as the beach and the Hydra station. The characters look sort of like their TV show counterparts, but at times they are laughable. The music adds to the atmosphere and makes it all seem very “Lost” from the opening music to the cliffhanger end music it all seems like it was ripped straight from a Lost episode. The sound effects too are fantastic. The sound of the plane ripping apart sounds very genuine and reminiscent of the Pilot episode of Lost. The voice acting would be better had they got more of the cast of Lost to do them, instead of “sound alikes.”
Now we come to Lost Via Domus’ biggest fault. No, not the fact Kate is never in her bikini (although that is a pretty big flaw), but the fact that it’s so short. The game will take an average gamer 7 hours to complete and with no replay value, it isn’t really worth the price tag. You will only ever replay an episode to get the achievements, although you could probably get the majority on the first run of the game. The game was probably made so short so as to attract the non-Lost fans who want a decent adventure game but don’t want to get sucked into the Lost world.
Overall, Lost Via Domus is aimed mainly at fans of the TV show. Any Lost haters need not bother as, although it is a very good adventure game, the whole Lost back story will bore you. Anyone who hasn’t seen Series 1 and 2 needs to watch them before playing to understand it all. Although the game is terribly short, it is good for a quick rent as the whole adventure and Lost aspect is pulled off relatively well.