|System: X360, PS3, PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Ubisoft Montreal||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Ubisoft||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 26, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
The game's greatest storytelling device is its playable flashbacks; this is such a huge part of the show, and I imagine it posed a big hurdle for the designers. But they've implemented this feature in a way that drives the story while also including some of the title's best gameplay.
Playing as new character, amnesia-stricken photojournalist Elliott (another smart move; playing as one of the show's stars would've been a tough mesh with the series' complicated canon), you'll trigger memories when certain events or conversations take place on the island. These scattered thoughts are only supported by a torn photograph of the memory. Elliott is briefly transformed to the time of the flashback and must retake the photo to unlock the foggy thought; once the picture is correctly captured, a scene plays, shedding new light on Elliott's past. This device works great and serves as one of the game's high points.
Other gameplay moments run the gamut from good--a fun, albeit over-used, fuse-changing puzzle game--to mildly entertaining--brief smoke monster chases through the jungle. Other mini-games, like saving yourself from exploding while carrying dynamite or keeping torches lit as you traverse dark caverns, offer similar fun but brief experiences. Via Domus actually doesn't support much gameplay in the traditional sense; don't expect to fire more than three bullets or get your Lara Croft-like acrobatics tested. This is an adventure game that places most of its apples in the story-driven, fan-servicing basket. And in this regard it excels with brimming detail and countless cool nods to the show. Even small, non-game-affecting touches, such as discovering Locke's wheelchair on the beach, or exploring places we've only glimpsed on the TV, should please fans. Sure, there are no adrenaline-charged car chases or intense gun fights, but for Lost's faithful following, just exploring Oceanic 815's cockpit will provide an equally pulse-pounding experience.
In addition to its twisty tale and excellent visuals, Via Domus is complemented by the same score that fuels each televised episode. Whether you're hoofin' it from smokey or sneaking around the Swan, the tension-building audio will keep you on your toes. All-important effects like the creepy sounds emitting from the smoke monster to the menacing "beep" of the Swan's countdown clock are also pulled right from the show. The authentic audio combined with the stellar visuals go along way in delivering what feels like a playable episode of the series. Again, the fan-service is fantastic!
Via Domus is far from a perfect game; it does a lot right--like those amazing flashbacks--but it also misses some opportunities to capitalize on this rich license. The thing is, a little Lost goes a long way with diehard fans. So, while I wished there were some deeper gameplay moments or a longer adventure (the game clocks in at about seven hours), I couldn't imagine, as a Lost fan, not playing this game and loving what it has to offer. I was sold as soon as the game opened with a breathless new angle of flight 815's famous demise. It might take a little longer for more modest fans; maybe it'll be hearing Michael yell "Waaalt" on the beach, or getting to punch the numbers into the computer. It may even take the game's "What the hell!" ending--which actually ties in nicely to the series' current time-bending direction--to convince some. But regardless of when it hits you, this is an experience that shouldn't be missed by anyone who counts themselves among the weekly Lost watchers. There's little here for non-Losties, and Via Domus certainly isn't the way to enter the series. However, if you've ever wondered what it's like to receive precious advice from island guru Locke or wanted to be the target of Ben's Others, then don't wait for the Dharma Initiative to force you to play this game like a trained rodent, just go pick it up yourself.
CCC Freelance Writer