Imagine a game like Minecraft or Terraria, where you explore unknown territories during the day in order to build a fort which you must defend from monster attacks in the night. Now, add to that some RPG and story elements that give the game some additional depth with actual content and you’ve got yourself an interesting concept. The Lost Town – The Jungle is an action RPG which utilises this rather interesting combination of gameplay elements, while still being an easy-on-the-wallet DSiWare game. However interesting the concept of a game is though, the question still stands: Is it well implemented? And most importantly, even if the game only costs a few bucks, is the game truly any fun to play?
The answer, in the case of The Lost Town, is sadly no. Be it gameplay, content, visual presentation or story, this game fails to deliver on far too many points; it’s hard to know where to begin with my critique. In fact, that was my first thought as I was flung into the apocalyptic jungle of The Lost Town. The game sets you off with no direction. No introduction to the controls, no explanation of my goals and little to no story details. I’m generally alright with games leaving you empty-handed like this in the beginning, as long as the information required can be obtained at least intuitively. That most definitely is not the case here. All the information may be available in the manual, that is true; however for a pick-up-and-play DSiWare title there should at least be some kind of quick tutorial explaining the gist of the game.
After a while of exploring menus and encountering some startling revelations (like when monsters started attacking what apparently was my camp during the night) I finally figured out what this game was all about. As it seems, a meteor has struck the Amazon jungle, making animals and humans in the area rabid and violent. It’s up to you, the pink-haired heroine, to save the villagers who still have their sanity intact and protect the last remaining encampment. You do this by exploring the surrounding jungle and picking up money from slain fiends to improve the camp’s defences, buy mercenaries to defend it (or accompany you) and repair the damage caused by monsters during the night. For each day that passes, you will receive new daily quests (again, without any clear indication of such) which you can complete in order to gain levels and skill points that strengthen your character. This you will need to do, as enemies grow stronger for each passing day.
As mentioned before, this is a great concept; which only makes my disappointment over the poor implementation greater. Visually, the game is a mess. The art style may be a bit charming, but the entire world is drawn on one single flat surface, making the presentation of collideable objects and walls ambiguous at best. The AI also seems to have problems discerning what objects in the world are walls, as the path-finding in this game is diabolical (which is frustrating when you need AI companions to help defend the settlement). The fact that you move about as fast as a crippled snail does not make navigating the small and ultimately quite empty world any more enjoyable. This is also especially strange considering that the game abruptly (and unsatisfactorily) ends after 7 in-game days and evaluates your progress in an arcade-like manner. A speedy character seems much more fitting for a game that expects you to play through it multiple times in order to better your score; that way playing this game might have felt less like a chore.
I dislike bashing small developers, especially when that critique may cost them a chance to make better games in the future. The Lost Town – The Jungle, however, just feels like a lazy cash-in on Circle Studio’s part. This is especially true considering that this is an almost carbon copy paint over of their previous game, The Lost Town – The Dust. As great as its premise may be, the game falls flat in terms of presentation and quality. It may be cheap, but there is no way I can recommend this game to anyone, not when there are flash games on internet, which you can play for free, that are much better made than this steaming pile of brown disappointment.