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Lost Horizon

Lost Horizon

Written by Tyler Sager on 9/15/2010 for PC  
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Set just prior to World War II, Lost Horizon focuses (mostly) on the adventures of Fenton Paddock, a dishonorably-discharged British army officer turned rakish rogue. Like all good adventure heroes, Fenton is a chap with impossibly roomy pockets, a witty quip for every occasion, and a strange aversion to straightforward problem resolution. Amusingly, Lost Horizon embraces these adventure genre tropes with a tongue-in-cheek enthusiasm, often breaking the forth wall to point out exactly how contrived and absurd these puzzlers can be, if they weren't so enjoyable.

And Lost Horizon is quite an enjoyable ride, if a brief one. The story, focusing on the rescue of Fenton's old friend gone missing in a mysterious Tibetan temple, is full over-the-top pulp flair. Fenton's adventures will take him through several globe-trotting locations, across three continents, and through an impressive mix of scenery. Without revealing too much of the story, Fenton is soon tasked with saving not only his missing friend, but the entire world, as he discovers a Nazi plot to obtain an ancient, all-powerful weapon. Sure, it's all been done before, but the "afternoon matinee" feel of the game keeps everything light and fun.

Many adventure games in recent memory have suffered from poor-to-mediocre voice acting and dialogue, a trait which Lost Horizon, thankfully, avoids. The vocals here were surprisingly good, and the writing was witty and enjoyable. Never taking itself too seriously, much of the game was sprinkled with quotes and loving nods to both the adventure game genre and pulp-action movies. Fenton, in particular, was voiced with a spot-on performance, sporting a jaunty smirk in almost every sentence. The rest of the cast was also quite strong, with almost no cringe-inducing moments to be had.

The game also looked good, although the character animations took a bit of getting used to. The backdrops, from frozen mountain tops to  steamy jungle scenes, were for the most part well done. The characters themselves, done with a slightly cartoonish feel, were a bit jarring at first, and didn't always move with the smoothest of animations, but it wasn't enough to take me out of the game. In a always-appreciated move, Lost Horizon includes a hot-spot finder for each screen, meaning that there was no frustrating pixel hunt through the highly detailed background. Each important object in the game can be highlighted on command, which thrilled me to no end, but may also have contributed to Lost Horizon being one of the easier adventure titles I've  played in a while.

And yes, Lost Horizon is an easy, and thus fairly short, game. Partly due to the lack of hot-spot hunting, partly due to the puzzle set-ups themselves, players can expect to blaze through the game in a dedicated weekend or so. The puzzles are for the most part good, following the laws of the adventure genre (while often ignoring the laws of physics and nature). The biggest reason for the puzzle ease is small number of locations available at each chapter. Since each chapter or segment consists of only a handful of locations (and a limited number of objects), it doesn't take long to think out which combination of items is required to solve a particular problem. Even brute-forcing the situation is fairly quick with the small number of combinations on hand. There are a few brain-teaser type mini-games, but even these come with a difficulty choice, making Lost Horizon a decent adventure title for the more casual players. A highlight of particular note was later in the game when two characters must interact from different perspectives to solve some of the more inventive situations--well thought-out puzzles throughout that chapter.

Overall, Lost Horizon was a brief and fun adventure stint, with some surprisingly enjoyable dialogue and entertaining puzzles. I honestly never found myself frustrated or even terribly taxed in a given situation, which may be a pro or a con, depending on the player. For those looking for a breezy and enjoyable adventure title, full of pulp globe-trotting goodness, Lost Horizon is sure to fit the bill.
A fun, if not terribly challenging, pulp adventure title. The brief ride is enjoyable the entire time, and a solid pick for fans of the genre.

Rating: 8.5 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

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About Author

I'm an old-school gamer, and have been at it ever since the days of the Atari 2600. I took a hiatus from the console world to focus on PC games after that, but I've come back into the fold with the PS2. I'm an RPG and strategy fan, and could probably live my gaming life off a diet of nothing else. I also have soft spot for those off-the-wall, independent-developer games, so I get to see more than my share of innovative (and often strange) titles.

Away from the computer, I'm an avid boardgamer, thoroughly enjoying the sound of dice clattering across a table. I also enjoy birdwatching and just mucking around in the Great Outdoors.
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