The Lost Crown: A Ghost-hunting Adventure review

The Good: Art design is amazing; sound effects, music, and ghostly voices are terrific; a large variety of unique puzzles.
The Bad: Terrible voice acting; extremely repetitive dialogue; mostly empty environments; ending doesn’t resolve many of the plot points.
Our Verdict: The Lost Crown is beautiful to look at and good for a few scares. If you have the patience to get past its many rough edges, you’ll find a thoroughly playable adventure underneath.

The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure is the latest work from independent developer Jonathan Boakes, who previously brought us the haunting Dark Fall series. A spiritual successor in some ways and a notable departure in others, The Lost Crown takes place in the same universe as his earlier games, with the return of Nigel Danvers and an expanded role for the mysterious Hadden Industries. This time you play as Nigel, who’s on the run from his former employers at Hadden, after hacking into their files and seeing some dark dealings he wasn’t meant to see. Nigel ends up in the sleepy English coastal town of Saxton, where he hears rumors of a hidden treasure, the Lost Crown of Ganwulf, an Anglo-Saxon King from a millennium ago. He decides finding this crown would be the perfect way to make a name for himself.

The townsfolk may rather he didn’t. There are almost twenty characters in this game, and most will warn Nigel off his quest. Just because you don’t know where something is, they say, doesn’t mean it’s lost. Some things weren’t meant to be found. To complicate matters further, Nigel’s boss agrees to let him off the hook if he can prove the existence of ghosts, of which Saxton has plenty, and overnights him some high-tech ghost-hunting equipment. And so you’ll split your time between investigating ghostly haunts and deciphering legends and clues about the Crown, though the two often go hand-in-hand, and if you can help a spirit or two receive their just rewards, or solve the mystery of Saxton’s disappearing cat population, all the better.

The Lost Crown controls like a traditional third-person point-and-click adventure game. As you sweep the mouse across the screen, the cursor will change to show if you can interact with something or not. You can look, take/use/talk, move to the next screen, or “apply inventory item.” That’s right, instead of leaving you to try every item on every hotspot, the game will tell you explicitly if an area requires an item or not, and generally the item you need to use is fairly clear. Even if you did have to employ trial-and-error, it wouldn’t take very long, as though there are dozens of screens, each one no more than two hotspots, a good number of which are only for show, with no real interactivity.

Most of the time, the inventory item you’ll use will be one of four pieces of ghost-hunting equipment. The Electromagnetic Fluctuations (EMF) Meter is used to observe ghostly changes in the environment. The night-vision camcorder can sometimes see things invisible to the naked eye (or provide a pathway through a pitch-black area). The miniature tape recorder can pick up Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP), conversations from the other side. And the digital camera can capture still photographs you can save and look at later. The astonishing thing about the ghosts of Saxton is how easy they are to locate. Take a picture of virtually any spooky area, and you’ll see an amazingly clear image of a ghost, while your miniature cassettes will pick up conversations plain as day. It’s a wonder there’s anyone left who doesn’t believe in the supernatural.

Even with the dead population seemingly outnumbering the living, they’re still able to give you a good scare now and again. The Lost Crown is most effective in a dark, quiet room, but even in my living room with roommates moving to and fro, I still startled a few times, and can recall at least one gasp. It’s not that there’s a lot of violence, gore, or even danger in the game (no matter what you try to do, you’ll never die or have an irreversible failure), so one wouldn’t necessarily call it a “horror” title; it’s more of a paranormal mystery. Still, there are times where a spirit will pop out of nowhere and make you leap back, or stare balefully at you with glowing red eyes that seem to bore into your very soul.

Those red eyes are among the few colors you’ll see, as virtually the entire game is in black and white. While there doesn’t seem to be any deeper meaning behind it, and most of the colored objects are fairly mundane (like a row of orange life preservers), it does create a very unique aesthetic. The color scheme (or lack of it) also helps the backgrounds—most of which are photographs of real life locations—appear sharper and more genuine than they might otherwise, creating an enhanced sense of reality. Except for some blandly old-fashioned character models, the photorealism and attention to detail throughout—there are even actual videos of the town Saxton was modeled on in the museum’s exhibits—are truly impressive, and offsets the apparitions you’ll find in an interesting, spooky way. The only one who seems unimpressed is Nigel. Near the beginning of the game, when Nigel gets a cottage in Saxton to rent, he finds a crate in his room thrashing about like there’s a rabid wolverine inside. He opens it up, and the clearly empty crate immediately comes to rest. He shrugs his shoulders and moves on with his day. La-dee-da.

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Game Info
United States March 1 2008 Got Game Entertainment
United Kingdom July 1 2008 Lighthouse Interactive

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User Score

Average based on 17 ratings

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User Reviews

Posted by Bonsai on May 11, 2013


From start to finish...a perfect adventure.... Read the review »

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About the Author
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Dante Kleinberg
Staff Writer


Apr 5, 2008

I was amazed to find out the guy who did the voice for Nigel was Johnathan Boakes.

He seems like a reasonably intelligent man, who I assume is from the UK… I can’t believe someone who wrote all that dialogue had such a bad grasp of how it should be read aloud!

Apr 9, 2008

I was a little distressed (way back when) when I found out Boakes’ next game was going to be third person. I still prefer 1st person (I was afraid to go into the basement in Dark Fall, but I’ll send Nigel into anywhere) but this game puts all other third person adventures to shame. You don’t get bogged down in endless dialogue trees (*cough* Siberia *cough*) and it isn’t just an endless stream of put the right inventory item in the right spot (The Longest-please let it end-Journey). This game has rich content, great music, a seemingly endless variety of puzzles, and hours and hours of play. And often quite spooky even though third person.

On the downside, the ending was a bit anticlimactic and left the story with too many loose ends. But worth the wait and the string of postponed release dates. Definitely check this one out.

Apr 10, 2008

A beutiful game - story and graphics - with the worst dialog I can recall ever seeing.
Jonathan does several voices in the game ranging from great to awful. Awful is the main charachter Nigel.
I’m surpriced nobody mentions the pace which was what really ruined it for me. No way of skipping dialog and watching this unbelievable charachter leisurly walking from screen to screen becomes frustrating after x hours.

But all voice acting weren’t bad, Lucy was great and Nana Noah was good as well.

Apr 13, 2008

Really disappointed with this game. Horrible game play interface (menu is really slow to manipulate. Transition between scenes can be HORRIBLY slow (you basically have to wait for a stupid bug to animate on screen before you get control back, which this happens everything you enter that screen).

The voice acting was also dreadful. It was hard to get into the game with al the boring voicing. Only good voice acting was from the character Lucy. The graphics, by far, are nothing special.

Personally it looks like a huge pile of dog feces. One would call it bad photo manipulation. It just didn’t work for me. A little more effort in the graphical department would be nice. It just felt so UNPOLISHED.

The concept though, the story, the paranormal was the best part of the game. But still, the game play lacked so much oomph to make me wan to continue playing.

The game is just annoying. It just feels wrong when the you go to a new screen to want to click on something, but the mouse cursor is gone. Please, give me a mouse cursor with a clock graphic to save my sanity.

This game by far was a huge disappointed since Dark Fall and Barrow Hill. Frown Sadly.

Jun 25, 2008

The dialogue is shamefully awkward and unbalanced. As painfully bad it is to hear the characters speak and interact, I don’t completely hold that against the developer. Knowing this man pretty much did the whole lot of it impresses me and I commend him on that. This is my first game from Boakes and I would even consider playing his others, and look forward to anymore he puts out. I also look forward to playing this game through and hopefully the story will get moving. Awesome art and sound direction, bad dialogue and voice acting. I do recommend the game on atmosphere alone.

Sep 3, 2008

One of the best games I have ever played. People look for Horror, thrill, Murder, Mystery & a Creepy environment should not be disappointed.

Sure the game has flaws; bad voice acting, a bit of a confusing storyline which leaves you with more questions then answers in the end, character movement is bit outdated but they’ll all be forgotten as soon as you get into the game - which most of the players did.

Do not be disappointed with the Black & White scheme. The B&W environment pulls the gamers more into the game.

All-n-all the game could have done better but it has not done less as people bragging against it point it out.

Worth a play!

Dec 4, 2008

I don’t agree with this review. I think this game is a great game, especially at midnight.

Jan 31, 2009

The Lost Crown was indeed an excellent game. However, way tooooo much dialog. It proved to be especailly annoying seeing that Nigels’ character lacked, well, just that, character. I found myself intiating the subtitle feature and muting most of the time.
Having said that, I would highly recommend this game based on its integrity of game play and FX.

May 13, 2009

I just downloaded this game from the shop and have been playing it for about an hour. So far I’m liking it . The voice-acting is bad, but that isn’t stopping me from getting into the game.

Jun 5, 2009

It’s one of the best adventure games I’ve ever played filled with horror, suspence,tension and mystery. I really liked the storyline and mainly one of the reasons that kept me going to its inevitable end. I also liked the graphics of this game and loved their black and white style along with the attention to srecific items with intense colouring throughout the game. Sound was realistic and could give to every player the shivers. To me this game has made it to the classics of adventure gaming..

Jun 5, 2009

Maybe the best adventure game ive played in my life, a ghost adventure full of horror, tension, creepy moments and of course a most engaging story that doesnt let you rest until you reach the finish.The graphics despite their simplicity manage to deliver a grotesque sense of isolation and fear where you find yourself skeptical about taking the next step into the darkness.Another pros of this game is the crowning success of the sound effects that manage scare the hell out of you, when you walk into your house stormed by thousand voices of obsucure beings its almost impossible not to feel an inch of fear.All in all its a great game definately a classic adventure that delivers every feeling you expect from a horror game, and may this be a lesson to those survival horror producers who think that adventures are dead, Lost Crown is the shining example of an adventure game that manages to deliver horror in a huge measure.When you are afraid to look through every keyhole and search every lead or take a step forward u know this game deserves a 5 STAR rating!!!

Bobbin Bobbin
Jun 14, 2009

Cool, I’m throwing a list together of all the spooky thriller, suspence type of games out there and all this feed back is terrific. All I’ve played is Scratches, Penumbra, a couple of Sherlock Homes. Scratches was the scariest ever and I want somemore of that .............!

Jun 15, 2009

I have to agree with Ziggy - I loved the game.  Now the voice acting was better with some characters than others.  You must play this game at night when you’re all alone in the dark.  Yes it’s interface could have been better but the story was better than most of late.

Sep 16, 2009

I so enjoyed this game.  I loved the black and white graphics with a touch of color added in, it added an old nostalgic feel to the gameplay.  While I wanted to smack Nigel occasionally for repeated phrases and horrible phrasing, the only major complaint I have is the inability to escape from dialogue you’ve already heard.  The open ended ending was done very well and I look forward to a sequel.

Hoipolloi Hoipolloi
Dec 23, 2010

I came across “The Lost Crown” on Darkling Room’s website, otherwise its existence would have slipped by me completely. The hype about its artistic merits and the “Game of the Year” trophy awarded by Diehard GameFAN led me to expect something special, and in some ways the game justified this excitement. In others, it’s rather disappointing.

First of all, I appreciate the strange beauty of the black & white world dotted with colorful spots. The idea of using tarot cards as a menu is also something else, even if these cards don’t have much to do with the story. The game has an engaging atmosphere, memorable but unobtrusive music, a good story and decent voice acting.

Now for the bad parts:
The hotspots are placed far too arbitrary and too large for the objects they’re supposed to activate. Dedicated pixel hunters will be disappointed by the lack of discoverable items in most scenes. To make matters worse, you can’t make Nigel - or anyone else - skip his (mostly useless) commentary utterances, or his dialogue lines. Conversations tend to be boring and repetitive, because the characters generally have a fixed set of lines for each chapter and, unless you discover some vital item, nothing new to offer. Yet there is no way to opt out of a conversation, except click the last item on the list and wait for polite Nigel to finish his good-byes.

What goes for the talk also goes for animation. No matter how lovely the spot, having to wait for the same dragonfly to settle herself each! and every! time you pass can grate on your nerves, just like hearing Nigel make the same comments in the same spots over and over. At some point I began to suspect that Saxton’s inhabitants, Nigel AND I were ghosts caugt in a time loop, but I guess that’s just how (evil) things are in Adobe Director. (I haven’t played any of the Darkfall games, except for peeks, but I remember the boy from “The Journal” who just won’t shut up.) Occasionally, your progress in the story depends on doing things in sequence, like talking to a specific person, to trigger events and new hotspots in places you’ve already visited. And the Saxton environment is rather big. My painfully slow wanderings made me cry out for a Myst-style zip mode.

Finally, whoever wrote the subtitles for this game was either in a hurry or has slight problems with spelling, mainly of the “it’s” and “its” kind, but some bigger blunders. The guy types better than the average internet user, but I suspect he’d get fired from his local town newspaper. I’m not going to look at the credits or speculate any further, but it’s a bit embarrassing for the developer(s). Couldn’t you have had your secretary go ever this before publication?!

Verdict: A different looking game with some substantial gameplay flaws, but also great ideas and gadgets, like the ghosthunting stuff. Almost no replay value, except to enjoy the look and atmosphere. *** out of *****.

Apr 19, 2014

Funny, I don’t think the voice acting is bad, perhaps not so great in places, but not bad or constantly annoying. Maybe it is a matter of taste—none of the voice acting or dialogue in any of Boakes’s games have bothered me much but the voice acting in Gray Matter ran me not only out of the game but to the uninstally button. Voice acting in Still Life is headed that way real fast. In TLC,  I will admit some of the repetition one can’t bail out of is more than a little annoying. On the whole I think this is a truly great game, complex, moody, good mystery, visually wonderful with the black and while tones, as others have mentioned I think, somehow lending an eerie reality to the game. I does have its flaws with ending that leaves quite a bit unexplained being one of them, but it is my favorite game so far in a short gaming career.

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