You’d think there would be more point-and-click adventure games for touchscreen devices, but right now, it’s still a pleasant surprise when an App Store developer comes along with a new entry in the genre. The Lost City is a point-and-click adventure game in the tradition of games like Myst, and while it’s light on the surprise half of ‘pleasant surprise,’ it’s a reasonably enjoyable way to spend some time with your iPhone.
The Lost City won’t take seasoned puzzlers more than an hour or two to finish, but that’s not too disappointing. If it were much longer, The Lost City would probably begin to feel a bit tedious, in no small part because of its completely underwhelming story. There is barely any context for your adventure, and the narrative consequences of your time spent in the Lost City feel totally meaningless.
The weather is here, wish you were beautiful.
The city is, as you might expect, devoid of human life. It doesn’t feel completely lifeless, but the lack of other characters doesn’t help the game’s story. You move from area to area, solving puzzles just because they’re there, not because you’ve been promised something exciting on the other side. It’s sad that the payoff for your efforts isn’t more substantial, especially if your hopes keep getting built up by the game’s mystique, but we enjoyed the puzzle-solving nonetheless.
The majority of the things you need to do in The Lost City aren’t too difficult to reason your way through. There were a few times when the in-game hint system was invaluable, but in general The Lost City is not especially challenging. It’s typically clear which items are meant to interact with which objects, and the world isn’t so big that it’s easy to get lost. The game provides a map for you to use if you lose your way, and it would have been nice if you could fast travel between screens by tapping your map, but it’s understandable why you’re not allowed to.
Don’t go chasing these.
Graphically, The Lost City exists in kind of an awkward place. The art assets themselves look pretty good, and the game has a diverse array of environments for you to explore. It’s also a vibrant game that doesn’t limit itself to a bland color palette. However, it looks cheap when things start moving around. Very few of the objects in the environment have enough frames of animation, and the world changes with simple transitions that are jarring to say the least.
If the gameplay was more gratifying and the story and animation weren’t so flat, it’d be easy to recommend The Lost City to nearly anyone who owns an iOS device. It’s a very accessible game, with just enough appeal to keep adventure game veterans from getting bored. Its shortcomings are readily apparent, but ultimately it’s hard not to enjoy your time in this mysterious world.