LOST Via Domus

You’re a fan, or you’re no fan. As far as LOST goes, I am a fan: I faithfully watch the episodes over and over looking for clues, write stupid reviews that rave on and on about the tiniest little things, I listen to the podcasts and actually enjoy the jokes about the wooden leg… so naturally, I got the LOST videogame, which goes by the name of LOST: Via Domus – a poor excuse for pig latin. How could they not get that right?! In fact – this question isn’t just valid for the title, but for the majority of the game and its handling of the reasons why a fan would buy it.

Cross-medial Copying

It is my opinion that TV series, as a format, are easy to transfer to a video game. Way easier than a film, to say the least, because how do you copy a two hour flick into an interactive experience that lasts about ten hours? In this event, the LOST videogame did just about everything right: they made a sidestory that spans over the course of the first two LOST seasons. This side story is told to us in seven different chapters, or episodes, each complete with its own “Previously on LOST”, a title screen and the ending screen. So it really does play like a television series. Using episodes also makes it easier for us to keep track of the story – middle parts of epic game experiences can sometimes drag alone a bit; it’s nice to see a cliffhanger at the end of every 30-40 minutes of gameplay to keep you motivated. In this way, LOST: Via Domus gets the job done. You just play “next to” the series, following great turning points as they go along (e.g. the opening of the hatch) and interacting with the Losties.

And that’s where it kind of goes wrong.

First off: let me say kudos to the production team for pulling this off. Some actors from the show decided they would help out and voice their characters (Claire, Desmond, Ben…). Absent from the list, however, were Jack and Locke, amongst others. So they had to get replacements. And while the replacements do sound like the real deal, you can just feel they’re not the real deal. And, however hard Ubisoft and abc studios may have tried to fix this gap, to the (extremely picky) LOST fans, they just fall short. On top of that, the characters just look plain awful – Locke looks too skinny and young, Jack looks like a walking zombie, Claire looks like a molten Barbie doll… It’s crazy and freaky.

Illusion ruined! Or not?

Thank God, we have the creative team behind LOST to help us out. They delivered us with a good, not great, story – carefully making sure not to break any LOST dogmas along the way – that kept me interested throughout the experience. In each of the seven episodes, there are several flashbacks in which we find out more about our main character: why he was in Syndey, who he was there with and what he was doing. This past takes a few very dark turns that apparently caused some players to detach themselves from the main character. It quickly became apparent, however, that in true LOST fashion, this story was going to be about a lost soul looking for the right path: redemption. In this way, the story was good enough. Not great, but good enough.

On top of that, the surroundings were also decent. They ranged from sub-par (the crash site looked horrible) to wonderfully detailed (like the jungle and the Black Rock). It’s nice to finally walk around the hatch, and do all those crazy things the Losties did, like typing in the numbers, hiding from the monster and getting dynamite from the Black Rock. So, for fans – if you can look at the already mentioned disappointments – this kind of stuff is pretty cool.

Questions, questions, questions

So, given the fact that LOST: Via Domus is a mixed bag, should you play it? If you’re not a fan of the series, I don’t see why you should. If you are, however, it’s worth it for the few crazy, mindboggling plot twists alone. The ending to this one leaves you scratching your head, much in a way a season finale does. For that alone, it’s worth the few hours of “video game” before that. It just goes to show that LOST is what LOST does best: telling us a story, making us shut up and look at the pretty pictures.