Creating a video game based on a movie or a TV show is a tricky thing—telling a story in this interactive medium just isn’t the same. Too often, fans who are excited by the prospect of taking on the role of their heroines and heroes are simply disappointed. The task is even more daunting when the original in question is Lost, a show built on secrets in which plot points are painstakingly resolved over time.
The makers of Lost: Via Domus wisely chose to have players assume characters who aren’t part of the TV show, rather than any of the known survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. You do, however, interact with Jack, Kate, Locke, Sawyer, Hurley, and the others you’ve come to know. The story you play in this game—available for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360—is new too. You are a photojournalist who has amnesia as a result of the crash. By moving around the island and revealing clues, you piece together your past through, you guessed it, flashbacks.
The story and the characterizations in Via Domus strictly adhere to the Lost universe. It’s too bad, then, that the effort that went into the story’s construction is made irrelevant by the terrible gameplay. The missions, such as they are, amount to navigating the island, collecting items, and triggering flashbacks in which there is virtually no gameplay at all. Making matters worse, the movement controls are twitchy, and the environment is difficult to negotiate too. Pieces of plane wreckage block paths away from the beach, and the only way to get through the jungle is to move from one piece of debris to another.
Ideally the island would be open to exploration, but that would violate the control that the creators of Lost maintain over the telling of their story, which makes the story fine for television, but not so great for an interactive medium. Interacting with characters and locations from the television show isn’t enough to make this game even worth a rental. Via Domus is Latin for “the way home”, but this game, sadly, should have stayed lost. Rated teen.