"Lost" has intrigued audiences with mysterious numbers, polar bears, hatches and Others. Ubisoft's first video game based on the popular castaway drama hopes to do the same thing " interactively, of course.
Unfortunately, the only engaging thing about "Lost: Via Domus" ($59.99 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, $29.99 for Windows PC) is the unique opportunity to explore fantastic digital recreations of the show's weirdo island environment in the action-adventure game's way-too-sparse seven episodes.
Don't even think about buying this game if you're not a "Lost" devotee. Much like the show itself, "Via Domus" could easily alienate gamers not interested in a sometimes clunky, sometimes genius mystery that slowly unravels with a cavalcade of questions. That said, die-hard fans will appreciate the game's parallel storyline that's more interesting than castoffs Nikki and Paulo ever were.
As an amnesiac passenger who worked as a photojournalist before getting "Lost," players can camp out on the beach, investigate the hatch, enter the numbers in the computer, search the Black Rock for dynamite and flash back to riding on Oceanic Flight 815 before it crashed somewhere in the Pacific.
Yes, just like the show did for the first three seasons, the T-rated "Via Domus" " which, according to the game, means "the way home" in Latin " heavily relies on flashbacks to push the plot forward. These minimal levels involve searching for clues and snapping a photo that will help jog your memory.
Moments like those, along with the inclusion of the "Lost" title sequence and those signature "previously on" moments throughout the game, are small steps in the right direction for the lowly regarded games-based-on-TV-shows subgenre, a niche known for spawning tedious and disappointing titles. (See any "American Idol" or "CSI" game.)
Most of the characters from "Lost" make appearances in "Via Domus," but only some of the actors lend their voices. There's nothing more distracting than standing within the game's lush landscape, looking at a surprisingly lifelike John Locke and then hearing a voice that's distinctly not Terry O'Quinn emanate from his mouth.
Fast-paced arcade-style chases that involve fleeing from the black smoke and the Others give "Via Domus" a much-needed shot of adrenaline, but it's not enough to keep up the plodding pacing.
"Via Domus" is ultimately bogged down by a lack of action. You'd think there'd be more to do in a video game based on a show where so much happens. Instead, players are tasked with awkwardly wandering through the forest, trading fruit and bottles of water with Sawyer and plugging fuses into electrical boxes.
It's the sort of minutia they don't show on TV for a reason: It's boring. Two out of four stars.