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Review: Lost Valley
Wow. You know, I counted the number of unfinished games I've started work on, and haven't yet deleted. It's around 102. And I've deleted a lot. So let me say one thing before I go on; THIS GAME IS A REAL ACHIEVEMENT.
It's quite amazing really, that someone has had the time and (more significantly) patience to make a game of this size. A game so big that I couldn't wait until I'd completed it before reviewing (which I promised myself I wouldn't do).
But I'm afraid that's the problem. You see you spend far too much time with the game, and far too little time playing it. Most of the time is spent running around in search of the next item to open up the next area for you to run around in. To be fair, there is a genuine sense of exploration, and the fairies do provide some hints, but generally they tend to tell you exactly where you need to be in around fifteen hours time, leaving you confused about what to do in the present. The situation is not helped at all by the difficulty, which goes from so hard that you trudge all the way across the map only to be killed in one hit and be sent back to one of all too few save points, to so easy that you kill that same enemy in one hit the moment you level up.
In addition, the action phases, while entertaining, and featuring some good puzzles, bear no effect on the rest of the game (until you near completion) meaning that you can get to them way before you're ready, and when you do complete them your satisfaction is significantly dampened by the lack of any direct reward (with the exception of a crystal, which is useless until you have all twelve). With the exception of the first, the temples don't even open up new areas, which can be a big disappointment once you've spent hours trying to find the next way to go.
It can also be quite buggy, with the character getting stuck, and one of my most important items randomly disappeared leaving me to (guess what?) trudge across the map to get it again. And I think I only managed to get it in the first place because I found a glitch, but it can be very hard to tell. Oh, and using the 'escape' key to exit game is the most annoying thing ever when you consider that in every other game that key takes you to the menu, which you may find yourself using a lot.
However, despite this the game still remains very compelling. It has a distinct retro charm, and greatly to its credit it feels like a real professional game, all-be-it an old one, as opposed to a quick amateur diversion. I have a huge load of modern games, with fancy 3D graphics, I have shop-brought RPG's, and yet I still played this. It truly does feel like a lovingly crafted effort, and from the beautifully crafted intro screens you know that this game is something special. There is something hidden or something to do on almost every one of those 1000 and something screens. The graphics, though low res, low colour and apparently partially ripped, are still on the whole excellent, though it would be infinitely better on a higher resolution. The animation is generally pretty good too, with a very mobile and not at all static main character, although the low number of frames and particularly the slow speed of the animations (which can give the impression that the character is gliding) do not do the drawings justice.
So, the game's got some problems, but it's also pretty special. It's not perfect, but who expects it to be? The truth is that it's a TGF game (originally) that's around three times the length of many professional releases, and in some ways that's it's curse. But even on a 32K modem (yes, they do exist!) I haven't regretted downloading this for a second and thoroughly recommend that you download it yourself, if you haven't already. If you have, then I would really appreciate a walkthrough. It's damn hard after all.
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