It's difficult for a video game adaptation of a successful media property to effectively duplicate the atmosphere of its source material. Sometimes, the reason is simple: it's hard to ape the tone and scope of a feature film or television series with a relatively small budget. Ubisoft has attempted to do so with the video game version of the hit ABC show Lost with Lost: Via Domus.
The game begins by placing the player in the shoes of a mysterious Oceanic 815 passenger as the plane plummets from the sky and lands on a mysterious island. The crash leaves the character with amnesia and the events of the game involve the player attempting to piece together the past, but also escape the island.
Via Domus' gameplay is cleverly split into episodes and the presentation of each greatly resembles that of the television show. The level design is consistent with the sets of the show and a person glancing at someone playing Via Domus could easily mistake someone playing the game for someone watching the show. The game is as much a visual achievement as the television show and the sound effects and score of the game are also spot-on.
Unfortunately, the gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. Despite operating under the pretense of being a free-roaming adventure, there are very few free-roaming opportunities. Each level begins and ends with unskippable cutscenes, then the player is expected to leap through a series of checkpoints. The free-roaming aspect involves talking to whichever survivors happen to be on the beach at the time but only certain characters trigger story elements. You can choose whichever characters you want to interact with, just as long as they include the ones you need. From there, the missions involve running through the jungle while avoiding either the smoke monster or The Others and then completing a simple puzzle. The levels aren't usually that challenging and, in the event a mission is failed, they can be repeated as often as necessary.
Video games based on shows are obviously designed to appeal to fans but Via Domus seems to have even missed the mark there. Interacting with characters from the show may appeal to some Lost fans, but the execution of in it the game is frustrating in its limitations. Making things worse is the uneven voice acting: only four of the 14 characters featured in the game are voiced by their television counterparts, making the game almost a bit of a tease.
The best way to describe Via Domus is, "like Lost, almost." It looks like the show, largely sounds like the show and is presented like the show. Unfortunately, the game is riddled with inconsistencies, frustrating gameplay and unskippable cutscenes trying to make the game longer. In the end, Lost: Via Domus duplicates the tone and atmosphere of the hit show, but doesn't do anything with it.
Lost: Via Domus is available in gaming stores everywhere. Lost airs weekly on CTV. The smoke monster appears when it pleases.