|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Jonathan Boakes (Darkling Room)||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Got Game Entertainment||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 3, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Using only the mouse, players will control Danvers primarily from a third-person perspective through most of the game. The view sometimes switches over to a basic first-person perspective when using the night-vision video camera to search out ghostly phenomenon in dark corridors. There's nothing particularly special about the point-and-click controls; if you've played an adventure game on the PC, you've seen them before. You'll click on locations on the screen to move Danvers over to investigate hotspots where you can gain information, interact with puzzles, speak with people, or use inventory items as you move from one area to the next in search of clues to progress the story. Double clicking speeds things along, which helps greatly when backtracking through the same areas repeatedly. Aside from waiting for ugly and sometimes slow character animation sequences to conclude, they work well enough. Also, a function to fast-forward through conversations you've already had would easily shave a few hours off the time players spent trolling around for clues.
The game takes place over the course of several days, and each day is broken up into different sections with a list of specific plot-related objectives to complete before being allowed to move on. Initially, certain areas of the town and surrounding area are closed-off, making it easier for players to focus on scouring small areas at a time. It keeps the game from getting overwhelming. There are some moments where the key to the unlocking path ahead is buried deeply in a cryptic puzzle, and this can lead to moments of frustration as you're forced to retrace every corner to find the single important detail you might have missed the first time around. It's a fault that's not uncommon with adventure games, though some may argue overcoming these barriers is part of the fun. Others will simply have to seek aid from a walkthrough. The puzzles themselves are varied and interesting. They range from collecting the proper herb ingredients and chopping them up to help make a stew to deciphering arcane symbols on strange millstone monoliths in the dark woods.
Many of the actions required to progress the story elements are intuitive. You'll have to talk to characters to gain information, search out secrets in documents and elsewhere, gather certain items for use later on, and document evidence of the town's ghostly inhabitance, among other goals. Though it's not difficult, the latter is particularly fun as it lets you utilize a handful of sweet ghost-hunting gadgets to track down the otherworldly beings dwelling in the dark reaches of the town. When you run across suspected hot-spots for paranormal activity (they're pretty clear from the spooky sounds and obvious activity), you can use a digital camera, a night-vision video camera, a multi-camera surveillance rig, a handheld tape recorder, and an EMF reader to collect evidence. Yes, it's just like the show Ghost Hunters on the Sci-Fi Channel, and it's pretty awesome.
The Lost Crown has a great, creepy atmosphere, and the presentation is one of a kind. Dark shadows, spectral figures, near constant mist, and chilling sounds are bound to give most folks an uneasy feeling about playing the game at night in a dimly lit room. Of course, that's partially the point. If the developers could have paid closer attention to character animations and movement, the game could have an even greater impact. As is, it's like playing a stunning, immersive adventure game with a bunch of crummy puppets. Thankfully, the many high points propel things forward to keep players from tripping up on this setback. Adventure fans would do well to add this one to their collection, ghosts and all.
CCC Staff Contributor