|Lost: Via Domus (2008)
Available for: Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC
History has proven that when it comes to video games based on movies, they usually suck. The same could probably be said of television series, too, if it weren’t for the fact that only a handful exist. Of course, if there were one TV property tailor-made for the video game treatment, well, it’d probably be NBC’s “Heroes.” If there were two, however, the other would undoubtedly be ABC’s island drama “Lost.” With various novels and webisodes already expanding upon the “Lost” universe, it’s hard to imagine a video game screwing it all up, and for the most part, it doesn’t. Taking a cue from “Enter the Matrix,” Ubisoft has smartly decided to stray from the main storyline by introducing a brand new character and weaving his island experience into those of the other Losties. The final product is a mixed bag, because while the game suffers from stale controls and a short campaign, any “Lost” fan would be crazy not to check it out.
Following the timeline from the first two seasons, you play as Elliot Maslow, a survivor of Oceanic Flight 815 who’s currently battling an all-to-convenient case of temporary amnesia. As you begin to piece back together your memory through flashbacks and interactions with the other survivors, it’s revealed that you’re a photojournalist who was chasing a story about a Hanso-connected chemical arms dealer before the ill-fated crash. Almost instantly categorized a threat by the never trusting Jack (it seems he thinks you’re an Other in disguise), Elliot finds friendship elsewhere – namely in the more forgiving Kate and Locke; the latter of which you form a bond with. In fact, you could even say that Elliot completely replaces the character of Boone, which is convenient since he doesn’t appear in the game.
With each level set up like a mini-episode (complete with “previously on” intros and title cards), the guys over at Ubisoft have done an excellent job of making it feel like you're watching the show. The island environments are lifelike, the trademark theme music is virtually omnipresent, and the characters even look like the actors who play them. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of their voices, and while a handful of the actors have recorded their own dialogue (Michael Emerson, Yunjin Kim and Henry Ian Cusick, to name a few), a majority of the show’s stars have been replaced with stand-ins that sound just enough not like the actor to make you notice. Which begs to ask the question: why bother with the likeness of the actors if you’re not going to use their proper voices?
It’s one of the many grating issues that pop up throughout the course of the game, and really goes hand in hand with the revelation that while most of the season one characters appear (with the exception of Boone, Shannon, Claire and Walt), they’re not given a whole lot to do. Hurley hangs out around the food pantry and says “dude” a lot, Sawyer calls you a bunch of different nicknames, Sun works on her garden, and Sayid fiddles with the walkie-talkie. Even more annoying is how the game’s timeline (though similar) doesn’t exactly parallel that of the show’s. For instance, Michael’s already busy building a raft by the first night, while Elliot takes part in almost the same exact events that occur throughout the series. This isn’t “Lost” canon, folks, it’s more of an alternate version of the series had this character actually existed.A point-and-click adventure in theory, your time spent in “Lost: Via Domus” consists of three things: picking up items and trading with fellow survivors, following onscreen orders, and solving puzzles. Regrettably, the puzzles that appear in the game fall into one of two categories – impossible and near impossible – and as you make your way through the surprisingly short campaign, you’ll be forced to rely more on luck than smarts. Still, for those that do make it to the end, the big twist ending is potentially spoilerific. Then again, it could just be the show's writers messing with us, because the only mystery surrounding this game is why anyone who’s not a diehard fan would want to play it.