One of the staples of my game playing diet growing up was the adventure game, whether it entailed a text only affair like Zork or a sprawling 16 color extravaganza such as King’s Quest. Sadly, it seems as technology has gotten better the gamers’ taste for epic narratives and thoughtful puzzle solving has diminished, or so the folks in charge would have you believe. Thankfully the mobile renaissance has rekindled the spark for puzzle games, and amazingly enough it seems even for the full fledged adventure game. One of my favorite original IPs in this genre where iOS devices are concerned has always been The Secret of Grisly Manor, and after playing through its spiritual sequel – The Lost City – I can’t wait to see what this developer offers up next.
This time you take on the role of someone whose grandmother has filled their head with tales of mysterious islands, lost cities and a people that can manipulate the weather. As it turns out, she might not have been crazy after all. Now it’s up to you to explore the fabled city and all its mysteries, and ultimately restore it to its former season changing glory. Along the way you’ll have to solve many puzzles both of the “use this item there” variety and of what has commonly been referred to as the “mini-game”. Thankfully the object driven puzzles aren’t very convoluted and the mini-games aren’t brain stumpers, which is good because there is no way to skip them. I think I had to seek help maybe twice, and that was only because I missed something simple. Fortunately there is a fairly significant help system built in as well.
The interface is pretty simple. Basically, you tap on whatever you want to do. If you want to pick up something, tap it. To use an item, tap on it in your inventory and then tap on the area in the scene where you want to use it. There is no combining of inventory items, which is kind of a shame, but certainly not a show stopper. You also just need to tap to move to a new location, and it’s generally obvious to see where a scene leads out, though sometimes it’s hard to tell where to tap to move back to the previous scene. The city is definitely sprawling in nature, and the developer was kind enough to provide a map so you know where you’re going and what you’ve seen. Two things that would be awesome with the map: the ability to take notes and the ease of tapping on a square to move to that location. They don’t exist, but one can dream!
What makes this game really interesting is that you discover and eventually activate 4 different statues that allow you to change the seasons. More than just a gimmick, this ability is necessary in order to solve certain puzzles. I’ve seen this kind of thing in RPG and action type games before, but I think this is a first for the adventure game genre. It’s a nice touch that really helps The Lost City stand out from the crowd.
The visuals are well drawn and nicely detailed. There is a decent variety of locations and most rooms have something animated in them, aided by the fact that there are little weather effects like snow during the winter. The one thing I did notice going through the game a second time was that the color palettes for each of the seasons seem a bit limited, giving the graphics a bit of a muddled look sometimes. Still, I really do like the look of the game. The sound effects are okay, though the fact that you’re on a deserted island eliminates dialog and most typical ambient island noises like animals and such. At least there’s the music, which is actually beautiful at times. It’s the kind of soundtrack you can just sit and listen to even if you’re not playing the game.
One thing I love about the mobile movement in general and the iOS world specifically is how it tends to highlight indie development. With dedication, hard work and perseverance developers can create some incredible games even without a stellar budget, and Fire Maple Games exemplifies that possibility. Sure the game’s not perfect, but it was fun to play and kept me coming back until there was no more to come back to, which is ultimately what a game should do. I just hope that one of these days the developer decides to do a more character / dialog driven adventure title.
|Title:||The Lost City||Developer:||Fire Maple Games|
|Reviewed Ver:||Min OS Req:||4.3|