Lost Horizon, by Deep Silver
Where does one begin to dissect this game? It is a bit different as it attempts the feel of Indiana Jones featuring exotic locations, romantic time period and a rough edged flawed character. I will leave it to you to determine if they achieved that. A few reviews claim they missed the mark but I don't completely agree with that assessment. You cannot match a big budget Hollywood production with actors like Harrison Ford in a video game. They came close as we travel from Tibet,Hong Kong, Algeria, Berlin, Bavaria, India and back to Tibet. How many video games feature Tibet? You get to fly an airplane, ride a camel and climb a tree among other things.
How are the mechanics? Playing in XP there were no crashing issues and no slow downs. You need an agp or pci express video card with at least 64mb of memory and Direct X9 compatibility. 512 megs of ram, 4.5 gigs of hard drive space with a pentium 4 2ghz single core as a minimum. Not too demanding. The disc needs to be in the drive and it is alt tab or start key friendly for those fast walk through checks. The graphics are well drawn, sharp and quite detailed. You will notice subtle movement of clouds in what appears to be a stationary scene otherwise. Look at the detail you will be pleasantly surprised.
The voice acting is exceptionally good with none of the accents being overdone. One of the complaints I read panned the lip syncing as not very good when shown in closeups. Having read that before playing I noted the criticism was accurate. But quickly determined for me the complaint was reduced to nit picking. You really don't notice it unless you are looking to find fault. It is far less annoying than horrible voice acting featured in some games that sound like chalk screeching on a blackboard. We have good graphics, very good voice acting and that is just the start. What about the important issues puzzle and story?
Let's begin with the manual. Who reads those things? This one is quite thick and detailed. It even includes a "top secret" section printed upside down reading from the back. It features an over view of the story and offers some hints. Of course I did not see this until I finished the game, after all Adventure gamers don't read manuals. The opening screen features a movie theater with traffic out front. You can watch the truck drive by and German soldiers going back and forth all night. Nothing will happen until you click on the entrance then the game begins. The load game, options and main menu screens are found by clicking on the posters along the front of the building. There is a quit option stuck neatly on a lamp post to the right of the store front.
There are unlimited saves. At the bottom of the screen on the right are three icons. A crossed hammer and wrench is where you save games. You also are offered the option of an auto save when you quit the game. Next to that is a question mark icon offering game help. In the form of our lead character telling you where he needs to go. A third icon, magnifying glass serves as a "snoop key" which highlights the items you can access on screen. The space bar serves the same purpose. Next to that along the bottom of the screen your inventory is spread out. An interesting feature is when you end one chapter and enter another your inventory is often used up and close to empty. You never get over loaded with an endless supply of stuff. So as promised the nuts and bolts beginning with puzzles. Most of your puzzles are of the inventory type. The usual mix and match items to perform a function. One thing to be mindful of is when interacting with an item a right click generates a vocal description while a left click picks it up or uses it. Clicking an item in inventory often finds another object. Be sure to check everything. There is one simple maze, no timed puzzles and no sudden death. In fact when you walk into a room full of Nazis they never seem to notice you and will wait patiently while you do whatever you need. Take your time, explore. you will encounter a few stand alone puzzles and are given a choice to do the easy or hard version.
The story is quite detailed with very rich well developed characters. The premise is taken from that real old movie classic, ( 1937 ) The Lost Horizon. But if you were thinking it immerses you into the detailed world of Shangri-la and all the wonders found by the movie character, Robert Conway you will be disappointed. The location renamed Shambala is the same lost world but you won't see any considerable detail of that society or its beautiful gardens. The game opens with Richard Weston being under attack at a monestary in Tibet. It is his disappearance and the need for world domination by the Nazis that sets the basis for the game. Enter our anti hero Fenton Paddock who is tasked to race the Nazis to find the key that will allow access to this mystical world. You play three characters primarily Fenton Paddock who among other things is a smuggler. The idea is he's crafted with Indiana Jones in mind. Yes you can make that connection based on the time period and the character's persona. He is teamed up with a cute and thankfully not over done friend named Kim. You get to play both though not a lot of Kim. In the last chapter there is a small bit with Richard. There are seven chapters in this long entertaining game with many cut scenes. All the action is contained within the cut scenes. The dialogue is extensive at times but you can click through it. All dialogue is subtitled along the bottom of the screen. There are no real head scratchers with the inventory puzzles but they do get progressively more difficult as you go along. I was considering writing a walk through until I found an excellent one with considerable detail and helpful pictures. Link included here. Walk Through
While the end credits are playing you are informed the bonus features are available. What may be an original song in the 1930s style is playing as the credits roll. It is quite well done. All in all this is very likely the best adventure I have seen in the last few years.