The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure




Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Jonathan Boakes & Darkling Room

 & Publisher:    Got Game Entertainment

Released:  March 2008

PC Requirements:   DirectX9.0C,Windows XP(SP2) or Vista, 128 MB DirectX® 9 Compatible 3D accelerated video card, supporting 32bit (true color) color depth at 1024x768, Pentium(R) 2 or equivalent. (Pentium(R) 4 or equivalent Recommended), 16x CD/DVD-ROM, 512 MB RAM. (1 GB RAM Recommended), 1.2 gigabytes Disk Space


Additional Screenshots






by nickie


“Two ingredients most valuable in the concocting of a ghost story are, to me, the atmosphere and the nicely managed crescendo… Let us, then, be introduced to the actors in a placid way; let us see them going about their ordinary business, undisturbed by forebodings, pleased with their surroundings; and into this calm environment let the ominous thing put out its head, unobtrusively at first, and then more insistently, until it holds the stage.” –M.R. James

A passion for ghost hunting and a tribute to the M.R. James story “A warning to the Curious” come to life in this ambitious screenplay from Jonathan Boakes. Past, present and future collide in the surreal landscape of England’s fens, smugglers’ caves and standing stones, as real locations merge with the legendary and fictitious in a delightful tapestry which entices the game player on a romp in search of lost treasure. Prospective ghost hunters will be thrilled with this how-to guide, collecting evidence of the extraordinary utilizing “tweaked” modern day gadgets -- all set into a very entertaining story (Boakes’ strength). Fans of his game Dark Fall will not be disappointed with this long awaited entry into their hands for many hours of gaming enjoyment.

From the first screen we are signaled that there is an ominous undertone to the game, as crows circle and a tarot card can be manipulated to begin our journey. What is to be our fate?

“Should we go looking for treasures we are not supposed to find?”—The Lost Crown

Our character is Nigel Danvers (who looks like the game developer and is voiced by him) in this third person presentation. Nigel has stolen data from his employer and jumped on the last train out of town to avoid ramifications of the theft. The train makes an unscheduled stop when the flooded fens make the tracks impassable. Nigel finds his ways through the dank waters of the Marshlands to the town of Saxton, where he rents a seaside cottage in disrepair. Curiously, it would seem he is expected there, as the people he meets already know him by name.

Nigel learns of a legend of lost treasure and eagerly pieces together clues to discover its history and whereabouts. Through traveling the town and its environs, he meets odd and mysterious characters, both in the flesh and of a non-physical nature. The characters all have compelling stories and secrets of their own, which combine in an arc to flesh out the main storyline. Both positive and negative Spirits lurk in many corners that Nigel travels, and even residual haunting abounds for his investigation. There are also interesting side affairs that add flavor to the story, such as crystal ball gazing, a palmistry session and the reading of tea leaves. Beyond the paranormal, the sights of the area are an added delight, as Nigel tries his hand at photography. Even some history can be learned here and there.

“Not all of Saxton’s dead were pleasant souls in life. So don’t expect pleasant souls in death.”—The Lost Crown

But ghost hunting gadgets take center stage as Nigel makes his way through caves, mysterious graveyards, a haunted museum and other chilling locales. At the ready he has a device that measures electromagnetic fluctuation in the atmosphere (EMF meter), a digital camera that detects motion and instantly prints out pictures, an analog tape recorder to collect electronic voice phenomenon (EVP), and a night vision camera that allows the person to see in the dark and outside his normal scope, utilizing infra-red technology. One gadget may work in obtaining evidence at one location but not at another, and Nigel will comment to assist the player in choosing the appropriate method of evidence collection.

The use of the night vision camera is particularly effective from a playing standpoint, as suddenly you are viewing the scene from a first person perspective. Although I generally prefer third person games, I think first person is usually more effective in horror games, as there is no character between you and the action. And there are indeed some scares in store for the player. The courageous will want to play this game at night in the dark with headphones on. There is at least one scene that is disturbing, whether it is played at night or by day.

“Not all is as it seems. Keep that in mind.”—The Lost Crown

The graphics in the game at first seem an odd choice in black and white. It becomes more interesting with a splash of color here and there, such as a cheery pink flower in a bland field, as if you were walking a country lane at twilight after a spring thaw. Perhaps it adds to the surrealistic nature of the story, as if time were distorted and only partially recaptured on the screen. The screens are contained with no panning, although they aren’t static, as there is movement within them—for example fog drifts, and dragonflies are interested spectators to Nigel’s progress. From cut scene to playable scene there is an occasional lack of continuity. The character graphics are not as well rendered as the scenery, and Nigel glides his way across the screen.

The ambient sound is well executed, with wind whistling, waves crashing against the shore, and other immersive, realistic tones. The music is generally non-obtrusive, and though mood heightening, doesn’t resort to canned, scary music themes.

Voice acting is one of the least important characteristics of a game for me. It’s a mixed bag, with most quite pleasant and a couple less so. The main character tends to speak as though he were in a play before a live audience.

“Just believe, and look deeply.”—The Lost Crown 

There are small symbols which appear when your cursor hovers the screen to indicate where you can move to go to the next screen, or when it is possible to interact with an object. At the same time, the interaction area is quite large, so I found myself clicking several times in an area, thinking because of the distance on the screen that I was clicking on an interaction with a second object. The game is quite linear and persnickety about items being clicked upon before progress can be made on occasion. Since the inventory will often be accessed, it is handy that it is always within reach at the bottom of the screen with a sweep from your cursor.

“What will be there, on the other side?”—The Lost Crown

The puzzles are of the inventory or logic variety, and well woven into the storyline, as are a liberal sprinkling of clues. It may only be on a second playing of the game that one can truly appreciate in retrospect how obvious the clues were and how well the story flows with an excellent use of foreshadowing. Since the game world is large, it was a welcome feature that Nigel won’t leave an area until all the investigation possible has been completed there, minimizing a lot of back and forth wanderings.

There are three timed puzzles, but if you fail you are given unlimited opportunities to succeed. There is a maze of sorts through the caves, but because of different landmarks it isn’t difficult to navigate. There is also a sound puzzle, but written clues are available, which makes it playable for those who are hearing-impaired.

“Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”—William Shakespeare

For such a lengthy game it was notable that there were few glitches. I did run into an aggravating glitch at one point, where you suddenly find yourself out of the scene you were in and instead in a previously played sequence. The developer almost concurrently with the release of the game released a patch to correct that problem. In addition, the game consistently gave me a problem at one point (through several playthroughs of the same location), where the cursor disappeared. Whether this is a problem specific to my computer, I have no idea.

Although you can save at will, there are only eight save slots. These will indicate the time of your save and a picture of the location in the game. I would like to see more in a game, especially of this length. The use of the tarot card to save, load and begin or exit the game was a nice touch.

Subtitles are the only option one can elect once the game is being played, although there is an additional graphics option during installation.

“What can we know? What are we all? Poor silly half-brained things peering out at the infinite, with the aspirations of angels and the instinct of beasts.”—Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

To summarize, a third person game that also utilizes first person perspective through a night vision camcorder. Point and click. Inventory and logic puzzles with plenty of clues throughout the game to help in their solution. Occasional, very mild profanity. Save at will, but only eight save slots.

A lengthy well crafted adventure horror game with a strong storyline that is sure to delight many adventure game players.

Grade: A

March 2008

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