E3: The Lost Impressions

[05.17.01] » Take a trip through hell in The Lost and experience some Tactical Eschatological Action.

   Though initial reports pegged it for a Survival Horror title, Irrational Games' "The Lost" actually seems most like a combination of Metal Gear Solid, Zelda 64, System Shock 2, and Dantean legend.

   The playable demo begins with Amanda at the foot of a staircase. Take a few steps forward and you'll meet the game's first enemy at the top of the stairs--a succubus who stands with her back turned at first, slowly revealing twisted aspects of her design. First you see a clawed hand slip from her side, and finally the demon turns around to reveal the bottom half of her face missing, and a writhing, wormlike tongue.

   After the cutscene is over, you have the opportunity to either battle the succubus as Amanda, which would be foolhardy, or to quickly grab some energy crystals in order to gain enough power to change forms. The two available in the demo were Instinct, a more powerful version of Amanda, and Shadow, a hunched-over, twisted figure who prefers to hide in shadows. Amanda's attacks included a broadsword for close range fighting and a bola for long-range attacks, while Shadow's arsenal was geared less toward fighting and more toward stealth: a mask allows him to become invisible, and grappling ability lets him latch onto special spots on walls and ceilings.

   All of the character abilities can be strengthened by spending mana, which allows weapons to become stronger or new abilities to become unlocked. This allows a customization system similar to System Shock 2's: the four aspects of Amanda's personality aren't separate characters so much as they are character classes. Each of the four--Instinct, Shadow, Corruption, and Light--allows the player to progress through the game according to their chosen style. For instance, if the player wants to battle it out with everything that moves, he might put his points into Instinct, and if he's looking for more of a Tactical Eschatological Action feel, he might choose to concentrate on Shadow.

   The enemies shown in the demo aren't your standard creepy crawlers. Of the three shown, only the succubus was a traditional enemy that stood its ground and fought back. More often the player will encounter bodiless enemies that hang from the ceiling and function as undead security cameras to be evaded, machine-gun-toting corpses stuck on poles that act as turret emplacements, and strange suicide bombers that walk toward you only to explode in close proximity and deal massive damage. All of the enemies do have one thing in common: genuinely creepy.

   The right analog stick and D-pad are currently standing in for a PC-style mouse and keyboard, although the developers claim that the final version will contain several control schemes to suit both console and PC gamers alike. The Lost is about 60% complete, according to Crave, and is on track for a Fall 2001 release. As the poet said: hold back the edges of your gowns, ladies, we are going through Hell.

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