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Lost Horizon: Nazis, Monks and Mayhem

Lost Horizon is a new adventure game that takes us back to the 1930's in a story that seems to stem from the classic novel of the same name. While there doesn't seem to be any license or official relationship to the 1933 James Hilton novel about a man's journey to Shangri-La, there are a lot of elements common to both stories.

In Lost Horizon, you will take control of Fenton, a small-time smuggler who was dishonorably discharged from His Majesty's Army. When Fenton finds out that his life-long friend, who is still a part of the British military, has gone missing in an expedition in the Tibetan mountains, he goes off to find out exactly what happened. What Fenton doesn't realize is that there is a lot more here than meets the eye.

Not only did Richard, Fenton's friend, disappear, he did so with the help of an old monk that showed him a secret passageway in the small village's mountainside. Apparently, the monks there are charged with keeping a massive secret, and the intrigued NAZI party, who has been showing up a lot around that area lately, are looking for this passageway. Now it's Fenton's job to track down his friend and find out what the strange secret he learned was before he disappeared.

From what I've played in the demo so far, Lost Horizon has everything point-and-click adventure fans will want. Not only is the interface simple to handle, but the puzzles seem to be at just the right difficulty. So far, nothing appears to be overly complicated, and there are enough layers for each overall objective to make the game truly enjoyable. For instance, finding out where a former employee lives isn't as simple as looking him up in the phone book. Instead, you have to talk to someone who isn't very good with names, so he needs a picture to give you his address. Of course, a picture isn't handy, and in order to wrestle it from its hiding place, you will need to talk to someone else and convince them to help you. While no single step was too complicated, the overall process took a bit of time and made the reward of the character's location that much better. Of course, this isn't anything new to the genre, but Lost Horizon has several similar situations that show just how well the developers at Animation Arts and Deep Silver know the gameplay style.

The other option I really liked was called a Task List. At first, I thought this was simply going to be a list of quests or jobs I was in the middle of in order to help keep track of which puzzles I was trying to solve, but it is so much more. For one, this option essentially becomes the narrator of the game as it not only explains what you are currently trying to do, but how it fits in with the overall plot. To make this feature better, it is voiced and, from what I've heard so far, the man behind the narration does a really good job of making you feel like this is something out of a novel.

While the game shares the same name as the classic book, it isn't the same story by any means. In fact, I would say Lost Horizon would fit perfectly as an Indiana Jones game. Not only is the era set correctly, but the mysterious events just fit perfectly... heck, it even has NAZI soldiers. In fact, there were more than a few times when I had flashbacks to the classic Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis game, not that Lost Horizon directly spoofs, homages or gives a nod to the old game, but the game simply feels right.

Though an exact release date hasn't been announced yet, the game is slated to be released this quarter, so adventure gamers, both hard-core and casual, should definitely keep an eye out for this title. It's got tons of puzzles, a great story and pretty solid visuals, all of the components necessary to make an adventure title that will stand out.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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