I have no shame whatsoever in telling you that I was literally obsessed with Myst when it came out in 1993. The mystical adventure that dared me to tumble into an unknown world and explore beautiful oversized tomes to unlock its secrets had everything that I wanted from a game at the time. It gave me a solo adventure, puzzles that were hard as hell to solve, and atmosphere for miles. I just might have played Myst (and all the clones of it) a rather embarrassing number of times.

So, it was really kind of a given that I was going to be thrilled to see The Lost City [99¢], which at a glance seemed to be aimed like a notched arrow at the heart of the Myst-era adventure game lover. Of course, anyone who was with me on the long ride through the adventure clones that Myst spawned knows that there were a handful of decent ones, but mostly many, many bad ones.

I'm quite pleased to report that this is not the case with The Lost City. Far from it, in fact. While the storyline behind the game is not quite as fleshed out as that of Atrus and his wayward sons, Fire Maple Games really nailed it in terms of atmosphere. But even more importantly, they got it right with the puzzles – and added a few extra things that Myst itself could have really benefitted from back in the day.

Navigating your way through The Lost City is as simple and pleasant as can be: the touch of a fingertip navigates you through the hidden city your grandmother promised you really did exist (apparently, she wasn't kidding). Your inventory is neatly tucked into a small briefcase in the bottom left corner of the screen, and touching it pops up a small row of all the items you've collected. Items for what? For solving puzzles, of course!

But The Lost City doesn't do that inane thing where you have to figure out the item that makes the least sense to use, cram it into another item and then use it to magically unlock some door that had no keyhole in the first place. No, these puzzles actually make sense, which as anyone who ever played a Kemco adventure game back in the NES days can tell you, was rarely the case.

Speaking of things that adventure games should have thought of a long time ago, another welcome one here is the map. Each scene of the game you encounter is represented by a numbered panel if you hit up the map screen, which you can move around with your fingertip so you can get an overview of the entire area.

You also have a journal which logs important notes you'll need for future puzzles, and it just so happens to contain (gasp!) a hint guide, so if you get stuck you can consult it. I know, it's not proper hardcore. And I don't care, because the days I spent crying and pulling at my hair in front of my computer because I couldn't solve that one puzzle were so bad that I don't mind one bit that this game doesn't want me to go mad with frustration.

One little touch about The Lost City I really adored was the addition of puzzles affected by seasons. You will encounter stone angel statues which you can place a heart item into to change the seasons, which affects which puzzles you have access to solve. This fit in beautifully with the overall coziness of the game, and it simply brought a smile to my face.

In the end, I found myself trying to slow down and simply enjoy being in the game's atmosphere. I really didn't want the game to end, and I suppose that's the best compliment I can give anything I play. If you've ever loved an adventure game of the Myst persuasion, then you're going to love The Lost City. But not because it's a clone, or even a really good clone. This one's got a magic that's all its own.

TouchArcade Rating

  • http://twitter.com/kestre kestre

    Speaking of myst style games.... One very old one was called Obsidian. Awesome game for those who like hunting old games. It's tough finding a computer to play it on. The Mac version only runs in OS 9 or earlier.

  • http://twitter.com/Quantum_Sheep Quantum Sheep

    Brilliant game 🙂

  • Brian Hobbs

    I bought this on the day I came out, being a lover of the Myst series myself. Hadn't gotten a chance to play it yet, but now I'm excited about it. Thanks for the review.

  • Adam Murray

    Excellent game, couldn't put it down after I started playing it. Not quite as difficult as Myst, so there are less wtf moments of wandering around aimlessly trying to stumble upon the next clue, but hard enough to make it enjoyable. I really hope Fire Maple keeps these style games coming.  

  • himanshu modi

    A glowing review. Not a single flaw. Why 4 stars though? Not a fan of the genre, but for 99 cents will give this a whirl.

    • himanshu modi

      also, you have tagged it under iPad games, but can't find any iPad version.

      • http://twitter.com/WauloK Jason Oakley

        I've asked FireMaple several times but they just ignore my question. I'd like an iPad version too!

  • Anonymous

    I'd rather wait for the iPad version, if there will be one?

  • http://twitter.com/stooneyoriginal Erhard Steiner

    I really enjoyed playing Grisly Manor (by the same developers) but a major drawback was that I finished it not only in a single sitting but in a mere 40 minutes!
    I am neither a hardcore gamer nor an adventure pro in particular, still it was rather easy and over before it really started.
    I would like to see just that kind of puzzles but in a much, much longer game. Has anybody played both of them and could give a comparison please?
    And I also would very much prefer an iPad version if they'd be kind enough to make one.

    • Adam Murray

      I also beat Grisly Manor in about an hour, but The Lost City is much longer. I probably sunk 3+ hours into it. Trust me it's worth the $0.99, it's cheaper than a coffee.

    • http://twitter.com/3corddesign Josh Weaver

      Yep. I concur. This game, compared to Grisly Manor, is much longer. It probably took me 3+ hours to complete. Well worth it. Really is a pleasure to play. Plus a great indie developer to support.

    • http://twitter.com/ghen73 Jenn

      I also played both and Lost City is much longer and more challenging. Really loved this game. Was also hoping it was Universal, but either way, it's obviously going to more pixelated at 2x but you can still enjoy the eye candy. Beautifully drawn, well thought out game, and I couldn't agree more that the seasonal puzzles are a clever and well executed device. Totally worth .99 and then some.

    • http://twitter.com/stooneyoriginal Erhard Steiner

      OK everybody, you convinced me already. In fact, I just played for an hour or so and really love it. I have all but two locations unlocked by now and I fear that I will soon reach the finish on this one too. But maybe there are surprises waiting and it will continue for a while.
      Anyway, totally worth the 99c. Could only be better if there was an iPad or universal version.

    • http://www.AppUnwrapper.com App Unwrapper

       The Lost City is much longer, and much more satisfying. You'll still wish it was longer in the end, but you'll get more than your money's worth here.

  • http://twitter.com/stormystudio69 Stormy

    Truly Brilliant game... I love Firemaples first one as well 'Secret of Grisly Manor'.

  • http://twitter.com/CaponeTalks CaponeTalks

    Joe did it again. It's awesome to see that some developers still produce these kind of games, as they aren't so popular anymore these days. FMG does it, and does it really, really well, its seems. Well done!

  • Adams Immersive

    I was spoiled: the first Myst game I played was RealMYST. Which was awesome and one one added Age lacking in the original Myst—but has made me wish for “real 3D” in every similar game.

  • http://www.jshamblin.com J.Shamblin

    I'm very excited about this game after reading all the reviews. 🙂

  • Tom Israel

    Just FYI, The Secret of Grisly Manner is free to celebrate the release of this game.

  • http://twitter.com/stooneyoriginal Erhard Steiner

    OK, just finished it after about two and a half hours of playtime. Thats not very long as far as adventure games go, but it was well worth he price and the time.
    Not only is the artwork beautiful, I especially liked that the puzzles always seemed really fair and almost never made up just to artificially lengthen the game.
    Also, you kind of know what to do or look for next all the time, so no aimlessly running around for hours.
    Also the map is a good idea and very helpful, I only wish you could just jump to a location by tapping on it.
    More of these games please, but ideally a bit longer and an iPad or universL version too!

  • http://twitter.com/RAoM_games RAoM games

    This is the best game ever for iOS and at $0.99 it is an absolute bargain, fully deserved its smashing the charts. Tons to learn for we indies about the mobile trade. Thank you!

  • Noah Reboh

    I really loved this game! Would anyone know any iphone/ipad games that are similar to this one? 

  • Noah Reboh

    Besides Mist and Monkey Island 2*

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UOA4KNWXEQCVVCAOT6DD4SRN3U Ericka

    Well I guess I am a dummy cause I can't figure out how to play this game at all!!! No instructions, I touch on things and nothing happens. It would really be nice if someone would actually give instructions. Thanks

  • http://www.facebook.com/DanRussellPinson Dan Russell-Pinson

    Tipping Point is another great iPad adventure game to try if you like The Lost City.

The Lost City Reviewed by Colette Bennett on . Rating: 4