Sadly, not one of those elements works. Take jungle exploration - while it looks huge and free roaming, it’s actually an extremely small area surrounded by invisible walls. Trekking off the beaten path for more than a few feet results in a prompt offering to take you back to the jungle entrance. Admittedly, hiding in banyan trees from the black smoke later in the game works well, but entertaining sections like this are few and far between.
Talking to characters like Locke and Kate is equally unrewarding. Thanks to voices provided by soundalikes that don’t sound very like the show’s cast at all, and dead-eyed character models that resemble Lost-themed sex dolls, the fun of virtually stalking your favourite characters is almost nil. While it’s true that some minor members of the cast do lend their vocal talents, their contributions amount to little more than a handful of lines. It does nothing to enhance the atmosphere.
The puzzle solving is by far the weakest aspect of the game, however - there are literally only three different puzzle types. One involves using computers to manipulate the environment, one involves taking photos and the other involves changing fuses to restore power to doors and machinery. Although it gets harder each time (to the point where you’ll end up scribbling endlessly on scraps of paper), the fuse puzzle is horribly overused, cropping up at least once in every chapter, sometimes appearing three or four times. It’s incredibly lazy game design, especially when you consider all the gameplay possibilities a franchise like Lost could - and should - inspire.
How Ubisoft Montreal thought this title was finished is a mystery far greater than anything dreamed up by JJ himself. It fails to work as virtual tourism - the interiors lack enough detail to be really interesting. It fails to work as an extension of the storyline - Lost producer Damon Lindelof has publicly stated that the videogame is not canon. But worst of all, Via Domus fails to work as a decent game - thanks to its refusal to let you explore, dull puzzling and an appalling ending that was already cheesy when Dallas did it 20 years ago. This is one bit of Lost property you’d be mad to claim.
Feb 28, 2008