Lost Horizon – after Paradise I was still in the mood for more graphical adventure games so I decided to play one from my backlog that I was putting off for a long while and man, talk about not judging a book by its cover. I was putting the game off because it looked kind of amateurish and indeed it is made by a tiny German developer, however, it turned out to be exceptionally well made, in fact by a mile better than the aforementioned Paradise which is supposed to be a large production but comes off lazy in comparison.
The thing that initially turned me off was the general presentation, it has that particular nonprofessional feel to it – the cover, the font, the title screen, the background artwork which is hand-drawn but has that distinct tumblr look to it; all of that, on surface, strikes you as amateur in nature. But after playing it, the backgrounds absolutely won me over, they are actually quite charming and clearly so much work went into them, plus the art direction is not at all bad. And like I said the game is really well put together for such a humble project – everything works flawlessly, 3D models look nice even on extreme close ups, there are a lot of misc animations that even a lot of bigger devs wouldn't bother with. They also have an interesting seamless way of integrating FMVs into the actual gameplay, not even sure how they did it. Good job all around. Well, except maybe for the music, it’s alright but it’s just the stock epic music they probably bought off some site. But at least the voice acting is alright, especially from the main lead, they clearly went for the Broken Sword vibe with the protagonist having a snarky remark about almost every object on the screen, the writing is nowhere near as good but it did make me chuckle a few times.
The story goes through all the classic globe trotting tropes – Nazis, Tibetan artifact, ancient civilization, asian waifu. In fact, it is almost to a tee ripping off Indiana Jones and the Thunder in the Orient but, just like with the visuals, the game tries its hardest with the material at hand, it’s nothing to write home about but I was enjoying the ride.
Gameplay wise the puzzles are really nice, varied and require you to think (provided you turned off the hints, including them in a puzzle game at all is insulting but this was made in 2010); with some decent gimmicks like switching between characters and fakeout solutions. The final puzzle where you switch between two time periods was an excellent idea, shame it was rather short as was the ending but it’s almost always like that with these types of games. The game itself is pleasantly long.
All and all, I was unexpectedly impressed with the game, it’s a great entry into the genre that rises above its humble origins and I would very much recommend it.