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Review: The Lost Symbol


The Lost Symbol is the most recent text adventure by famous designer Dan Brown. It is his fifth published work, and the third chronicling the adventures of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon.

As a fan of Brown's text adventures, I was looking forward to finishing The Lost Symbol, and having recently beaten it, I can say that it was well worth the relatively cheap price of $18. But for a more in-depth review, read on.

First off, the more superficial aspects. The graphics certainly aren't anything special, but then, one doesn't expect much in this department from a text adventure. Similarly, the sound design is minimalistic, allowing the player to imagine gunshots and explosions, but still fitting the more tense, silent moments of the narrative.

Truly, the narrative is where this game shines. Without spoiling too much, it contains several unexpected twists, and it constantly keeps the player guessing. Additionally, it is divided into several very short "chapters" that encourage the player to go through "just one more" over and over again until he realizes that he has spent five hours with it at a time.

Of course, anyone familiar with Brown's earlier games could tell you that these elements are characteristic of his storytelling. What sets The Lost Symbol apart is a truly detestable main antagonist, and one of the most interesting uses of player death that excite this author to see how it can be expounded upon in the upcoming Quantic Dream title Heavy Rain.

Gameplay-wise, it is your standard text adventure fare. There is very heavy use of written narrative (it seemed like 500 pages!), some navigation of dialogue trees, and light puzzle solving.

The puzzles, while few and far between, were diabolically difficult, more so than can be found in either Professor Layton game, but thankfully, there is a very forgiving hint system built into The Lost Symbol. If the player cannot deduce the solution to a puzzle in a short period of time, one of the supporting cast members will offer hints, or Langdon will muse to himself in order to steer the player in the right direction. If the player is still stuck, more menu navigation will reveal the correct solution. It is a pretty ingenious system where the player determines how quickly he receives hints and solutions, but through organically going through the narrative rather than hitting a button asking for help.

With that said, the game suffers from simultaneously being too easy and too difficult at the same time. Most of the puzzles seem impossible to solve without at least some help, but they can all be solved for the player if he chooses to bypass them. Couple that with a tense, yet completely uninteractive final boss encounter, and this games seems very hard to rate. On that note, I will say that its narrative is its strong point, and in that regard, it deserves a four out of five stars.

If you are a fan of Brown's previous text adventures, or the movies made from Langdon's other journeys, then I can recommend The Lost Symbol. However, if you require interactivity or constant sensory input, you may be better off playing something else.
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About Darren Nakamuraone of us since 2:29 AM on 11.06.2006

Darren is a scientist during the day. He has been a Destructoid community member since 2006, joining the front page as a contributor in 2011.

While he enjoys shooters, RPGs, platformers, strategy, and rhythm games, he takes particular interest in independent games. He produced the Zero Cool Podcast for about four years, and he plays board games quite a bit when he can find willing companions.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Darren Nakamura knows several people in the video game industry, most of whom are Destructoid alumni. These include:

Anthony Burch, former writer for Gearbox Software
Ashly Burch, notable voice actor
Nick Chester, publicist for Harmonix Music Systems
Chad Concelmo, writer for Golin Harris
Aaron Linde, writer for Gearbox Software
Jayson Napolitano, publicist for Scarlet Moon Productions
Brad Nicholson, former publicist for Uber Entertainment
Alex Ryan, publicist for Kalypso Media
Jim Sterling, notable voice actor

Darren backs a lot of Kickstarter campaigns! If you want to see what he has backed, you can go here. If he ever reviews a game that he backed, that will be explicitly disclosed in the review.

Darren invested in Psychonauts 2 on Fig.
Xbox LIVE:Dexter345
PSN ID:Dexter345
Steam ID:http://steamcommunity.com/profil
Mii code:1257 7687 3747 6405


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