The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure Review
By Chad Montague |
Trotting around isolated locales hunting for spectral figures and uncovering new truths and treasures is certainly an appealing prospect. The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure offers that kind of experience, letting players investigate the hushed English town of Saxton and its surrounding countryside in pursuit of long-lost riches. Since this is a traditional adventure game, don't expect much in terms of action. The focus here is on puzzle-solving, character interaction, and atmosphere, which for the most part are done fairly well.
The game's strongest feature is the actual ghost hunting, as the protagonist, unwitting sleuth Nigel Danvers, eventually gains access to a set of equipment for recording events paranormal. Frequently, the game lets you systematically test parts of the environment with a digital video recorder, voice recorder, camera, and electromagnetic field meter. Combine that with sequences utilizing a more elaborate spirit-finding device in Nigel's ghost-infested apartment and it makes for some interesting and genuinely spooky experiences.
Really?For instance, after several hours of playing you might be given the opportunity to examine a wooden ceiling beam you'd never given a second thought to before. Yet after seeing it under the green blur of the video recorder's night vision view-panel, under the flash of the camera, or listening to the gravelly crackles of audio tapes recorded in its vicinity, you might find there's been something lurking there all along. Nothing deadly, mind you, but unsettling for sure. It's enjoyable throughout the game as you slowly become aware of this parallel plane of existence bubbling just beneath your own.
Things begin as Nigel somewhat inadvertently enters Saxton, a secluded community in England's Anglia area. Encircled by fenlands, dark woods and consisting of crumbling stone cottages, the township emits a distinct air of stagnation, something linked to the community's obsession with its past. Initially fleeing from a mysterious figure named Hadden, Nigel soon gets folded into the town's affairs, including, among other things, a strange epidemic of missing cats.
Though the atmosphere can be immersive at times, The Lost Crown stumbles in several areas. First off, and likely the first thing you'll notice when you load up the game, there's the issue of how horribly the character models look and animate. That can be overlooked by some, particularly the hardcore adventure fans, but then there's still the problem of the game forcing you to wait as Nigel performs painfully slow turns and body movements as he reaches to interact with something or looks down to inspect an object on the ground. I can accept and understand that the game had little in the way of production budget, but don't force me to watch Nigel skate across terrain and turn his head with the speed of an partially anesthetized turtle. In some instances you can fast-forward Nigel through terrain by double-clicking on an exit, but it doesn't entirely alleviate the problem.
I can has Lost Crown?Obvious production restraints aside, that doesn't mean you're free from tired point-and-click pixel hunting conventions. You will, for instance, restore power to elevators by fixing a fuse box, manipulate security camera systems, memorize lock combinations to open safes, procure ancient objects from hidden ruins for use in highly improbable puzzle devices, and use information gleaned from books to align stones in ancient tombs. If you've played these kinds of adventure games in the past, you've probably done these puzzles before. The good news is, despite the fairly long list of conventional challenges, they mostly make sense, and better yet are limited in scope.
What I mean by this is puzzle solutions can generally be found within the area you're actively searching. If you try to leave without finding the right thing, Nigel will frequently pipe up and say he hasn't finished investigating, letting you know there's still something to do. The game also provides a wide activation area on the screen for spots that can either be examined, used, or otherwise interacted with, meaning if you just do a quick sweep of the screen with your cursor, you'll usually find everything you're meant to. Ultimately, this means the game is less of a headache to play since you're not scouring the entire game world at every roadblock encountered.