I spent this past weekend playing the four-hour adventure that is Ubisoft’s “Lost: Via Domus” (last visited by Stephen in January) You can scope out more of my critical thoughts at 1UP. As a hardcore fan (some might say “obsessed,” but I call it “passionate”) of the television show, completing “Via Domus” was a forgone conclusion, for the same reasons I made it through “24: The Game” a few years ago.
The stories presented in the weekly episodes aren’t enough; the games provide me with more.
I didn’t boot up “Via Domus” expecting to enjoy the game itself; rather, this experience was purely about fan service and having a little fun in a mysterious island of my own. What intrigued me, though, was “Via Domus”’ storytelling. It got me thinking about the wildly different approaches licensed products take.
Consider the following approaches (some with movie games, but you get the point). Which was wisest?
- “Lost: Via Domus“: Invented character who sees the major events occur around them, but doesn’t participate in them
- “24: The Game“: Story occurs between two seasons, thus avoiding stepping on TV’s toes and simultaneously bringing a new story for fans
- “Sopranos“: Road to Respect: Set in the same world as the show, incorporates main character interactions, but plot is otherwise separated
- “Scarface: The World is Yours:” Occurs after the film, thereby contradicting the movie’s ending but freeing it from its storyline
- “The Godfather“: Also features an invented character, but unlike “Via Domus,” the character is an active player in major events from the films
“Lost” is a series anchored in meticulously doling out answers to its layered mysteries. Devising a story that allowed the player to explore Lost’s world without contradicting the already established doesn’t sound simple. Maybe “Via Domus” should have taken a cue from the sentiments in last season’s “Greatest Hits” episode, embraced the existing moments and simply let us become part the show’s most pivotal moments.
I don’t want to punch 4-18-15-16-23-42 inside the hatch as Elliott, some random background castaway that’s suddenly been shoehorned into the storyline. I want to be John Locke. Or Desmond Hume. Or Jack Sheppard. Or maybe I’m just too hard to please as a fan.
Readers, what do you want out of your licensed games that so heavily rely on good stories? Is there a better approach?