I’ll admit right now that I’m not a dedicated Lost fan. The dialogue-heavy series with its multiple plot threads (and plot holes) never really captivated me, despite the raw-danger setting within a sprawling jungle environment. And so, I dived into the world of Lost: Via Domus without much expectation.
And I was quick to dive out.
Via Domus is a pretty standard third-person adventure game, emphasis on the pretty…and the standard. To make this lost episode flow into the Lost canon, the developers have decided to drop you into the shoes of an all-new, amnesiac character. Events primarily revolve around you, although you do develop a deeper connection to the other central characters that are also stranded with you on this God-forsaken island.
Plenty of dialogue keeps things running smoothly — after all, this is what the series prides itself upon. The problem with Via Domus is that most of the characters are voice-alikes (as opposed to using the original cast) and many of them sound terribly stilted (you can forget about authenticity here). The monotone dialogue is also rather boring, and despite being concise enough to propel the story forwards at a surprisingly fast pace (you’ll be done with the game in less than 5 hours); many of the simple question and answer exchanges feel superfluous and unnecessary. Kind of like the show really.
At least the actual adventure sections fare much better. Making your way through the dense, interactive foliage and exploring the many dark, decrepit caves with naught but a flickering light showcases the complete level of immersion that we have come to expect from our next-gen releases. While not as remarkable as Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune, Via Domus is more than competent. And when the Black Smoke is introduced and you are sent on a madcap dash — jumping and sliding through every rock, tree and crevice — the adrenaline will have you pumped and feeling like Indiana Jones by the end of it.
However, your vagrant trekking is interspersed with a variety of puzzle-solving situations — most of which are math-based problems... which isn’t very Lost-like at all. Where are all the environmental puzzles? This isn’t very next-gen, now is it?
I’m sure many Lost fans will be disappointed with Via Domus. It offers players a unique perspective of the goings-on during seasons one and two of the much-loved/scorned series, but with lacklustre dialogue and a poorly developed storyline (which is virtually impossible to understand if you aren’t a Lost fan) this is just an average adventure game that is really only Lost by name.