Lost: Via Domus -- Latin for "Knowing One's Limits"


Posted February 2, 2010 - By Andrew Pfister

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Lost Via DomusSo tonight’s kind of a big deal. The last season of Lost is premiering tonight on ABC (check your local listings), and as is customary this time of year, everybody’s enthusiasm is generating almost equal amounts of disdain from friends sick of hearing about it on the social networks and at the water coolers and the what-have-you. As you may have already tuned in on, Patrick Klepek and I are probably the most vocal fans on TheFeed staff, and we’ve been doing lots of prep work for the finale of THE GREATEST FICTIONAL STORY EVER TOLD TO ANYONE EVER.

(Kidding. We’ll try not to be as obnoxious about it over the next few months.)

The breaks between seasons are long, and the universe is mysterious and complex, which means that we’ve had about 9 months of empty space in our hearts to fill with Lost-related pondering. While Patrick decided to spend his time flying back and forth across the Pacific, I did a full re-watch of the first five seasons to refresh my terrible memory.

But I finished that last week, and there was still time to kill…so I finally got around to something I really should have done a while ago: borrowed Patrick’s copy of Lost: Via Domus, the video game put out by Ubisoft at the beginning of season 4. Via Domus is a story told in parallel to the first three seasons of the show, and follows the adventures of some guy you don’t care about in the slightest. The premise is that you’re a survivor of Oceanic 815 and have been there the entire time, interacting with “the A-Team” while you try to piece together your past. So it’s like Nikki and Paolo, only even less interesting.

Lost Via DomusThe faults of Via Domus are numerous: you begin leaning on the narrative crutch that is amnesia, the timelines of your slowly unfolding mystery and the hyper-accelerated plot of the show are out of synch, John Locke sounds like Walter Matthau, it lamely attempts to mimic the episodic structure of the show (but couldn’t even get the intro music right), and it’s not even considered canon by the show’s creators.

But it’s not completely valueless. There’s something cool about being able to visualize the show’s locations as a video game environment; it puts new perspective on what we’d only seen in disparate camera angles and unclear Island cartography. Exploring the beach camp (even if there’s nothing interesting to do), walking through the jungle with only a compass, and getting the real layout of the Swan Station hatch were cool moments as a fan, and added worthwhile info to my internal Lost encyclopedia.

And the ending of the Via Domus, which actually is authorized and written by the Lost team, was an unexpected flash-forward to theories incorporating time travel and loops that we’re likely going to explore starting tonight. But because I threw in the towel during an annoying flashback photography objective that just was not working, I resorted to YouTubing the ending and forfeiting the apparently easy-to-get Achievement points (which is fine, because I’m not that type). But it showed the contrast between the unofficial fiction written to plug in holes that don’t necessarily need plugging and story elements implemented by the people who came up with the big idea in the first place.

Lost Via DomusSo the question that was raised in my mind and I now pose to you, is what compels you to investigate supplemental fiction, whether it’s canonical or not? I remember enjoying Shadows of the Empire (the game and the book) back in high school, which filled in the gap between The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but at the same time, I could have just as easily gone on without ever knowing what a Skyhook was.

Did Halo 3: ODST satisfy you? Is Reach more supplemental or a full-fledged entry in your eyes? Do you read Gears of War books or watch Dead Space animated movies?

And are you going to read that poem inspired by the Dante’s Inferno game?

(Again, kidding.)

Lost: Via Domus -- Latin for "Knowing One's Limits"


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