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Doc’s Review – LOST: Via Domus for Xbox 360

By docarzt,

  Filed under: Lost News, Lost Via Domus
  Comments: 15

via-domus.jpgUPDATE:  I’ve also done a review for ALL THREE versions of the game at UGO.  Click here for the XBOX 360, PS3, and PC notes and which I think you should buy.

I got my copy of Lost: Via Domus yesterday and spent the greater part of the evening and this morning playing it.   The highly anticipated game has you playing as a passenger from Oceanic 815 afflicted with amnesia.  As you struggle to regain your memory, a sinister passenger demands you turn over a mysterious photo to him.  Your guy is in some kind of trouble, to be sure.

As you explore your own mystery, you brush up against many of the key moments from the show and see aspects of certain locations that have never been revealed.  To answer your burning question:  no, there is nothing revealed in the game that really explains anything about any of the shows mysteries.  The expansion on show mythology is mostly important to the game’s unique take on the universe.

True to their promise, Darlton have not allowed any proprietary canon to be vetted exclusively in the game.  The game is strictly optional.

Click For XBOX 360 Info

Realism – Most nextgen games do a pretty good job of providing sufficient atmosphere, but since Lost: Via Domus is based on “Lost,” it needs to duplicate the locations and people  for fans that have studied them on a nearly academic level.  

In this department, Via Domus is certainly acceptable.  The terrain is the game’s strong point.  The crash scene pulses with danger and devastation; the swan hatch seethes as much mystery as it did the first time we saw it on the show;  the jungle is beautiful yet formidable.

The character models are truly the weak point of the game.  Some of them are fantastically done:  Desmond, Locke, Kate, and Jack being the firs to come to mind; others are laughable:  Hurley, Michael, Claire.

The behavior of the characters is also variable.  Jack, for instance, very early in the game becomes a human roadblock preventing you from going into the jungle to seek the cockpit and your mysterious camera.  Jack is stubborn and commanding for sure, but a human roadblock?  Never.  And in the real world, we’d just skip down the beach a couple hundred feet and cut into the jungle anyway; or say, “Screw you Jack,” and walk around him.

Each situation is more or less free roam-ish, but there are definite tasks to be performed before you can move on, and sometimes they are not necessarily that enriched with a feel for the show itself.  For instance, GAME SPOILER want to get around Jack?  Have a flashback and you’ll learn that men are suckers for a damsel in distress.  That will automatically give you the line of dialog “Claire has fainted.”  This has the result of making you feel more like you are a prisoner to the game’s script then a free willed player.

The most disappointing factor of the game play is you are constantly limited in how much you can explore.  Free reign to explore the island should have been a given to some degree.  Instead, you find the beach camp lined by impassable arrangements of wreckage, and going too far astray in the jungle will result in asking you to start over.

Click For PC Info

Lostism – This was the big one for me.  It has to be LOST.  I have no trouble endorsing Via Domus as a Lost-like experience.  Naturally, it is not in the same league as the story/show itself, as the story progresses you definitely realize you are more involved in the adventure of this character’s life than anything to do with the island, which is fine.  The island serves as the background to a lot of personal stories.

The tendency with a video game, I think, would be to expect a high-octane action version of the show’s mythology.  You’re Jack battling Dharma zombies in the jungle while you explore the temples of the island’s original inhabitants.  Obviously this isn’t the case; instead you’re treated to mystery that brushes up against the shows key mythological moments and characters.

The voice acting of the characters is pretty bad.  Maybe there is a legal reason why they can’t get the voices ‘perfect,’ but trust me, they are far from perfect.

Since it is not the original actors, however, this is completely forgivable.

Click For PS3 Info

Gameism – As much of a dedicated Lost guy as I am, I’m also a dedicated gamer and Lost: Via Domus has some series issues for me.  The flow is, as I mentioned before, scripted and mechanical.  Controls are great, there are less epic moments of the story that are frustratingly difficult while some key moments are surprisingly easy.  Need to stop the plane from exploding?  That’s simple math.  Need to get through the caves to find the cockpit?  One wrong turn and you’ll spend ten minutes traipsing around the jungle collecting coconuts to trade with Michael for torches.

The flashback sequences are well done.  An effective device was found to make the experience compelling.  You have fragments of a photograph flashed at you before you drift into a foggy replaying of the situation.  Recapture the photograph with your camera an you unlock the flashback segment.

Final Verdict – Lost: Via Domus as a game hits its stride in the second act.  Casual gamers who give the game a spin before purchasing probably aren’t going to buy this game.  Lost fans, of course, won’t be able to stay away.  This kind of narrow market appeal is a bad idea, because while Lost has an enormous fan base it’s relatively small when you winnow it down to gamers and split that over the three platforms supported.  Hardcore adventure gamers without a Lost addiction will be quick to dismiss its scripted by-the-numbers quests.

Bottom Line: 
It’s a fair game that no Lost fan should go without.  Non-Lost fans should stay away.  

For those who are curious my gamertag is doctorarzt on xbox.

From TVFrenzy:

  • AbbadonMan

    How’d u get the game?? It’s not out until wednesday??

  • Samfishercell

    I’ve got to say, I’m irritated by this whole the game is canon/not canon discussion that Damon+Carlton have started. I thought originally we were supposed to learn things like what exactly is behind the concrete wall in the hatch, see the other spectrum of the blast door, etc. While these things aren’t necessary to the Lost universe, it does flesh it out quite a bit.

    This is similar to The Lost Experience. While it’s not vital to have gone through that, it did help flesh out the universe quite a bit. Is this the same kind of experience? I was looking forward to learning new things…what does this game have to offer me?

  • Steve

    I love Lost and probably would have made this a purchase (despite not getting all the stars to do their voice-acting ?!?!?! c’mon guys !)

    But, now that Damon has deemed the game non-canon I am going to have to Gamefly it.

    I just dont get that either. If the game could have been written to be fully functional and factual within the Lost universe and had even just Jack & Locke’s real voices in addition to what it alreadfy had going, I think it could have done really well.

    Considering the fact that it is being released almost in time for the break in episodes, a few well placed ads during Lost for the next 2-3 weeks could have made this game a huge seller.

    Cheers for the review Doc !

  • Samfishercell

    I agree Steve, they sure botched the marketing for this. Even the recent XBOX 360 Oceanic contest didn’t include this as a prize! This is pretty shocking for how cohesive Lost has been at cross-marketing itself across various forms of media (Bad Twin, ARGs, etc.).

    I think Damon+Carlton need to describe exactly what they mean by “canon”. I feel like they don’t refer to things as canon because it will make people think that they need to purchase or partake in these extra experiences. I feel that things that are canon contain information that is true within the world of the show (but may not be vital to understand where the show is going)….and I’m not sure how this game could not be canon seeing as how the Lost team worked SO closely with the game team (they even revealed the nature of the monster to the game’s director). The recent declaration of the game not being canon has definitely affected by decision to buy it.

    I’m also a bit irritated by the fact that Find815 was revealed to be non-canon. The entire thing feels like a waste now…I really thought Damon+Carlton and the team had better control over the world of Lost than this. (Although I realize they were probably unable to influence it during the writer’s strike.)

  • chris


    You seem to have pretty good access to people close to Lost. Did you get any explanation why the original cast wasn’t available for voicing the game? Was it a payment issue? Contract issue?

  • David

    I think everyone is reacting to Damon and Carlton’s claim that the game is not canon too strongly. I don’t think they meant it in the sense that everything in the game is not true to the show and contradicts it and doesn’t matter. Everything they’ve said leading up to this shows that they’ve been closely involved in its production, making sure it is true to the show, does not contradict the story, and has an interesting story. What they meant to say is that it is not canon in the sense that it won’t have anything important that you will need to follow the story of the show. It is its own side story, totally optional, and stands on its own. But it could still be considered canon to the Lost universe of “what happened.” One thing though about video games is that due to the interactivity, even if it is a linear story, the issue of exact canon is kind of blurred anyway.
    Damon and Carlton are just trying to play in that tough spot which is to make a great game product that has a great story, fits in, and the fans will love…but isn’t something that will make non-gamers and casual fans feel like they missed out on something important. That would only hurt the show. I’ve seen this done before. For example, the “Enter the Matrix” video game made the two matrix sequels make a lot more sense and gave some somewhat important details on various characters. This reliance on the video game hurt those films. Damon and Carlton don’t want that.
    Anyway as an adventure gamer, and a fan of Lost, everything about the route they’ve gone with this game, and its place in “canon”, sounds wonderful to me.

  • KeepingAwake

    There was another article that came out yesterday which reported that scheduling conflicts prevented some of the others, who had movie projects, etc., from lending their voice talents to the game.

  • SlapnutzUK

    As a fan of the show I was excited for this.

    Sadly it turned out to be a huge let down. I finished it in less then 4 hours. It may as well have been Dragons Lair!

    An example would be my rush to collect items to trade for a gun. I got the gun and an ammo clip.

    30 Bullets in total. I fired 4. Why 4? Well the game TOLD ME TO. You cannot do anything the game doesn’t want you to. There is no exploring period. The hardest part of the game are the fuse puzzles and the Dharma IQ Tests.

    Avoid this game or rent it. To buy it would condone this abortion!

  • Calvin

    Hey, anyone playing the game-how do you get out of the flashback sequences-im on the first one and keep taking the picture with different focuses and what not-and it never works. anyone know what i could be doing wrong?

  • jeroen

    Hey Doc,

    Great review. One question. You didn’t mention anything about the music in the game. Does it have the original music from the show by Michael Giacchino? This realy is a big issue for me….

  • I wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciated your review on this game. Especially because no reviews existed on the major gaming sites at the time of its release. Because of this review I will most likely be renting it down the road once I catch up on the actual series. I mentioned your review on my site over at Nerdscore, please take a look and let me know what you think.

  • exo

    I played through the game this afternoon… it really was a mixed bag for me. Oddly enough it was the small things about the game that I loved… the menu system is really neat, the menu music is straight from the show, the way the episodes begin and end like television episodes – all great stuff.

    Then there is the game itself. I didn’t find the Dharma IQ tests or the fuse puzzles all that difficult. The IQ tests just require one to find the pattern (nothing above SAT level stuff) while the fuse puzzles have a fairly simple process you can follow to solve them (I wont spoil that here though).

    caution – very mild spoilers ahead

    What I did find annoying as all hell was the process one must go through to add a new destination to the game…. Running from marker to marker while black smoke chases you and men fire at you just wasn’t fun for me. I nearly walked away when this was coupled with carrying dynamite (which severely limits ones movement options).

    As a previous commenter mentioned, the gun is a prop – not a weapon. You may only use it if the game tells you to. There is enough ammo up for trade on the island to raid a doom marine base, and yet you really only have to fire twice, although typically you will fire 4 times…. yes – it’s that predictable.

    The ending… well – I suspect that is the reason the shows creators said this was not cannon. The conundrum presented by the end sequence sort of stabs the entire why the show has worked so far right in the back.

    What I had hoped for most in this game was a chance to feel as though I was a survivor on the island. A chance to explore the island, get a feel for the layout, solve a few mysteries along the way. I want to walk down the coast until I find the black cable. want to hike out to the ruins of the statue foot. I want to find the rocks where Kelvin kept Desmond’s boat. Instead I’m treated to some maniac others who shoot at me every time I walk off the beach, and tons of strategically placed debris to make sure I don’t go anywhere else.

    For me the only real great moment was finding the secret entrance and finding what was behind the sealed cement walls in the Swan hatch, although there was a slight thrill entering the numbers in the computer for the first time as well.

  • RemSaverem

    I picked this up and played through it in one sitting. Nothing too big, but I did enjoy seeing all the old familiar stuff in a different setting, and exploring new sections of the swan and hydra stations.
    I enjoyed the game’s ending, personally. I thought it had huge implications for the idea of time paradoxes and other mysteries on the island. I do recall hearing that Damon Lindelof helped them write the ending, so despite the game not being canon, I feel like the ending might have been a big clue. Could just be me, however.
    On another note, Hurley’s character model looked like a freaky muppet.

  • Nue

    first of all,thx for review.

    if i had read it before i think i wouldn’t have purchased the game the day it came out.

    i feel 2 ways about it:

    i love the music – all michael giacchino – full blown orchestra no synth-strings. it makes a great atmosphere.

    i also loved playing the swan station and the black rock, being able to walk around especially the swan and having to enter the numbers made me feel very lost 😉

    the previously on lost thing is funny, it makes you feel comfy in the game.

    I TOTALLY LOVED THE END, that is, until i found out that it is the end.
    the game’s very short ( i needed more time to solve portal )

    most of the characters look and act very poorly, though i think locke looks great in the game (whats up with juliet?!?).

    like others reviewers said, cerebus is funny at first but turns out to be VERY annoying.

    am i the only one that didn’t like the room behind the swan? it is so non-canonical, i think.

    just like others wrote, i totaly wanted to explore the island by foot ( or maybe in a neat vw-bully ), seeing the barracks or coming closer to our little 4-toe guy, that is missing all of his body except his left foot.

    it’s alright for damon and carlton to declare it non-canon, because if it would have been, the game should have taken at least 10 maybe 20 hours to complete it.

    so, if you’re a herdcore lostie, like myself you might like the game, but if you’re not sure in the first place – go and rent it.

    greetings from germany