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Jonathan Boakes is a dedicated man. His one-man developments have included two Darkfall games and the similar Barrow Hill. Now he releases his most ambitious game yet, a 30-hour ghost-hunting point-and-click adventure. We just wish he’d realize he’s not good enough to do it on his own. None of the games have entirely worked, hindered by crappy puzzles and atrocious voice acting, but all have been bristling with ideas. If only some more capable technicians and actors had been involved. The Lost Crown is a step forward in some regards: the puzzles are far more realistically involved in the game’s world. The voice acting? Not so much.
The story sees returning protagonist Nigel Danvers trapped in an English village called Saxton. The place is (oh God, so slowly) revealed to be haunted, and your mysterious employers send you a big box full of ghost-hunting equipment so you can figure out what all this nonsense is about. This is all carried out at a pace so slow that at times you wonder if the game is going backward. It’s like having anvils tied to your legs as you try to wade through treacle. But it’s nothing compared to the conversations – performed with astonishing incompetence, slower than you could ever imagine. Everyone involved speaks in this impossibly stilted and... bizarrely paused... pace. It’s a new form of agony.
Using black and white photography for location backgrounds is smart, and the animation gets away with a lot by being similarly monotonous. It’s a really good idea. It doesn’t, however, disguise the ridiculous glide-walking. There are huge amounts of people, dialogue and (sigh) 400 million pages of stuff to read. Then things become even more involved, as the mystery behind your own situation is unveiled. The problem is, it’s all done so unbelievably slowly. Boakes has a lot of talent but he needs a team to fulfill his promise. In The Lost Crown, there’s just a lot of stuff, moving really, really slowly.
Oct 16, 2008
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