I’ve mentioned in earlier reviews that the iPad and its other iOS brethren are a great way to escape from reality for a brief time (or longer, if you’re so lucky). Starting up a game is quick, and there’s essentially no need to haul around a PC with a keyboard, mouse, speakers, or a laptop, when you have everything in one neat package.
This time around I tackled an older release called The Lost City, a Myst-like adventure game that is set on an island that is host to a supposed ‘lost city’ that within its ruins, hosts powers to change the seasons. You come to this island after growing up listening to your grandmother speak of it and its mystical powers. With only a heart-shaped stone as a clue, you arrive on the island intent on finding the power of the island yourself.
The Lost City is like any other touch screen adventure game: find clues, find objects, and solve puzzles or riddles to use the objects to further the story or get farther into the game. Right off the bat I knew The Lost City was going to be a challenge since there are no difficulty modes. There are no on-screen hints, no hand-holding obvious answers – The Lost City wants to work your brain to its fullest. That’s not to say that the game isn’t entirely going to leave you in the dark as there is a hint system in the journal you carry. It doesn’t reveal every bit of the puzzles, and not all of them either. There were times I went to check out the hint system and found that the particular area I needed it was absent – I had to really rack my brain.
And that’s the great thing about The Lost City, you run into puzzles that aren’t mind-boggling convoluted and thrown in, but puzzles that are logical. Luckily as well, the objects you find all have a purpose and there’s no combination puzzles to join them together, they are their own entity to be used. While it was tough to get an idea of what some of the items were as there is no object description, you’ve never really dealing with an item that looks out of place or doesn’t make sense. The descriptions you find at certain parts in the scenery will give a good enough idea of what you’ll need, and when you get an object, you’ll get an idea of where it should go pretty quickly. I also really appreciated the removal of items that don’t have a use once they’re done; it helped in both solving an item’s continued use and not the dreaded “shove all items at this particular thing until it works”.
Navigation was simple and quick, the screens load fast when moving about, but it was a bit easy to get lost. Luckily there is a handy map that shows how each location is accessed from another and each one is numbered, perfect for using the hint system in the journal or if you’re using an online walkthrough after being stuck. The inventory bar at the bottom however did get in the way of navigation, but it’s a meager annoyance since you can hide your inventory bar quickly and easily.
Graphically The Lost City does the job fairly well. There’s no 3-D graphics, because honestly that would ruin the overall feeling and atmosphere of the adventure. The colors are vibrant and bright, and when you start changing the seasons to solve puzzles, you really feel like you’re in winter, autumn, summer, and spring. I think I even shivered a bit when I saw the snow and frozen pond. The detail is pretty well done as well, and it’s easy to find objects and items to find and use in puzzles. However on the iPad it seemed as if the overall detail was slightly blurry, which could be due to the larger display, so those with an iPhone or iPod Touch will most likely not experience it. There are a few animations such as the transitions in seasons and water effects, which are nicely done and complete the feeling of being in a mystical island.
In the audio department don’t expect to be blown away – the audio is subtle and out of the way so that you’re not depending on it to solve puzzles or find clues. I recommend keeping it on a medium to a low volume level because the music is enjoyable, but it doesn’t need to be blared out of the speakers.
Overall The Lost City is a wonderfully fun adventure. The puzzles make sense, the artwork is great, and while the story isn’t exactly a masterpiece, it’s a great lead-in to start the adventure. You will find yourself getting stumped every now and then, but not due to wacky and nonsensical puzzles. As of the time of this printing you can actually pick up The Lost City for your selected iOS platform (I chose the iPad because of the larger screen) for the wonderful price of free, so it’s almost criminal to not pick it up.