The City of Lost Children

The The City of Lost Children, based on a movie with the same name, is a nameless place existing outside of any comfortable coordinates of time and space. Its inhabitants dwell in a wholly self-referential world. What lies beyond the city, we never learn. Its architecture and technology are a bizarre mixture of the Gothic, the contemporary, and the antique. It is a place where sunlight never shines; where intricate webs of footbridges lead everywhere and nowhere.

5_1A street-wise 12-year-old orphan named Miette joins forces with a stout-hearted but simple-minded circus strongman to solve the mystery of the vanishing children. Opposing them is a pair of sinister Siamese twins (known as Pieuvre — the Octopus) who run a Dickensian orphanage and force the kids to steal jewels. If all this sounds chaotic and disorienting, that’s because it is. In fact, the film is coherent, brilliantly structured, and every bit as beautiful as it is disturbing. But what does all this have to do with Psygnosis’ “adventure game”?

The entire game consists of three short episodes, only brief parts of which really connect to the film itself. In fact, this may well be the shortest adventure game ever Рan experienced gamer can bash through it, start to finish, in about two hours. As if to compensate for their inability to really translate the film into a different medium, the designers have padded out the puzzle sequences with every lame clich̩ in the genre.

Example: in the opening scene, Miette must locate two objects in the orphanage classroom and exit into a courtyard within approximately 45 seconds, or the Octopus will throw her into a cellar. Since the game gives you no clue as to what those objects might be (the classroom is full of stuff), you must explore the whole place before you chance upon them. Until you’ve done that, time runs out, over and over again, and you get chucked into the basement — three times in a row, and it’s “game over.” At this point, you’ll start to wonder if the game ought to be called The City of Lost Patience.

System Requirements: Pentium 233 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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