Lost Horizon review
Adventure games are back and in full force, and the latest game in the genre, Lost Horizon, showcases how a modern adventure title should be made.
Lost Horizon stars a charming smuggler turned adventurer named Fenton Paddock. Developer Deep Silver sure liked Indiana Jones and the persona of Han Solo because a little bit of both can be found in Fenton. Even the title screen is a movie theater, having Lost Horizon as the main feature.
Once a British war hero, Fenton gets called back to duty unofficially when his close friend Richard goes missing in Tibet. Though this simple rescue mission quickly turns into a quite larger adventure, ultimately to find the city of Shambala, before the Nazis get to it first. Throw in a sassy girl sidekick into the mix, and you got yourself all the right ingredients for a grand adventure.
The story gets interesting very early on, which makes going through the game that much more enjoyable. Unlike the comical antics of Monkey Island or Jolly Rover, Lost Horizon takes itself quite seriously, despite Fenton's humorous attitude. It's Fenton's persona that is easy to identify with. He's an easygoing guy with a genuine drive to help people, who even at the worst odds, keeps a positive attitude.
The heart of this game are the puzzles. Maybe it's because I haven't played many adventure games in my day, but most of these were very challenging. Thankfully you don't have to go on a scavenger hunt across the screen, trying to figure out what is clickable. A simple press of the Space Bar will show you exactly what you can interact with.
That, however, does not make the process any easier. You still have to figure out which items work with what to progress, and this is often no easy task. An early example of this is Fenton trying to leave for Tibet. He needs a map of Tibet, which a specific person has. Another person at a bar can tell you where he is, but he needs a photograph to remember who you're talking about. This picture is in your safe, for which the code to unlock it is in your wallet, that you lost in the water and later a boy fished out. Needless to say, it doesn't end there and continues on for quite a bit.
Don't get me wrong, the long puzzle segments are appreciated as they provide a good challenge, but if you're stuck, you're out of luck. There is an in-game hint system--if you can even call it that--which only vaguely tells you what you should be doing. It does not tell you at all how to do it, so you're stuck until you figure it out, or look up a guide. I like difficult puzzles that challenge my way of thinking, but when I'm stuck and just want to move on, I would appreciate a decent hint system that actually tells me how to proceed.
While going on this grand Indiana Jones styled adventure, it helps that the presentation is top notch. Only the characters are 3D models, while all the backdrops are beautifully painted with slight animation effects (such as water ripples in the Oasis or blankets swaying in the wind in the bazaars of Morocco) that really breathe life into them. The voice acting is also well done and gives each character personality.
Lost Horizon reminds gamers that the adventure genre is still very much alive, can still be entertaining, have a gripping storyline, doesn't coddle gamers by having challenging puzzles that will have you saying "How did I not see that!" after finally figuring each one out, and that not all great adventurers need a fedora.