I have a weakness for Lost. I believe this is the only acceptable reason to play Lost: Via Domus. (Unless you also happen to be a videogame reviewer, in which case you also have an acceptable reason to play.) But I can cut this review short for anyone who is not under contractual obligation to review games or a serious Lost fan: Don't bother. However, if you do love Lost and need to kill about eight hours between episodes, Via Domus is probably not the worst way to spend your time.
As television-based games go, Lost: Via Domus stands out in that it is completely playable. It works, the gameplay is mostly solid, and you won't find yourself wandering around for ages. Sometimes you will find yourself wandering around, but there are relatively few options available to you at any point in the game. So figuring out what to do next is not much more difficult than just pursuing the dialog trees and watching for interaction icons.
You play the role of a new Lostie from the front of Oceanic 815 named Eliot Maslow. Eliot is a photojournalist who, like almost everyone else on Lost, has a sordid past. Unfortunately for him, Eliot can't remember anything about that past. Also unfortunate for him is the fact that he is being pursued on the plane by a mysterious man who wants him dead.
The game centers around Eliot's quest to find out about himself. Along the way he encounters many of the well-known Lost characters including Jack, Locke, Hurly, Sawyer, Kate, Ben and Juliet. One of the primary downers in the game is the fact that only a few of the original actors have provided voices (for the characters Ben, Mikhail, Desmond, Claire, Sun and Tom). Locke sounds a lot like Uncle Ben and every time he speaks it makes me cringe. The other characters are similar. Via Domus would have been greatly improved if it had focused on these characters voiced by the actors rather than forcing us to listen to imitation Jack, Locke and Kate all the time.
What actually stands out in the game are the segments focused on Eliot Maslow. His story is told through playable flashbacks, and since there are no pre-conceived notions of how those characters should sound or act, the story elements tend to be much more satisfying. Eliot's story of treachery and murder is compelling, and fits nicely into the feeling of the entire series. Ubisoft Montreal was smart to take this approach to the game, obviously trying to avoid the pitfall of having gamers replay the story of the series.
What doesn't work is pretty much everything else. Eliot traverses beach and jungle, finding the Swan station and encountering the Others, the Black Rock and the mysterious smoke. These sequences play out like slightly altered versions of the story told in the TV series, which makes them feel cheesy in comparison to just about everything else (except the voice acting).
The technical presentation of Via Domus is pretty good. The game uses the YETI engine from Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, which makes it look good, but not exceptional. The gameplay is pretty solid, although there's nothing here that you'll find yourself telling your friends about. Sometimes Eliot is a little sticky on his environment and the camera get a bit wonky in areas.
Lost: Via Domus is really only an option for the most die hard of Lost fans. If you have seen every episode and want to extend the experience a very small amount, then it's not bad. Or, if you are all about the Gamerpoints, then it's a really easy way to get a quick 1000. But for most folks, this is yet another lackluster entry into the genre of TV-based franchise games.