Intriguing film's transition to video gaming is predictably dire.

User Rating: 3.9 | The City of Lost Children PC
It is perhaps fair to say that City Of The Lost Children's transition to the video game world was a surprising move. The film was superbly directed with strange characters, beautiful imagery and unlikely epic plot - but what conviction did it hold as a video game, and one that would sell to the public? Obviously something according to the developers. Weirdly, the video game is mostly out of context with the film, leaving the finished product without the actual essence of adventure.

Set in the hazy future of misery, City Of The Lost Children revolves around a declining world and a deranged scientist who has created a man who cannot dream. That man kidnaps children to steal their dreams and stifles wasted ones in a vault. The protaginist is the young girl of the actual film, the twelve year old orphan Miette, who begins the game being ordered to do criminal deeds by her evil siamese headmistresses. Her journey is frustrating and you're led into believing that her tale has no relevance to the film until you get to a certain stage for the film's bulk to suddenly kick in. Judging by the film, the only element of gameplay that could have been derived from the film into an actual game would have been at the end where Miette and her friend One delve into the mad scientist's laboratory. The developers miss a brilliant opportunity to play out this scene and instead reduce the laboratory sequence to a mere cutscene. Consequently, only a portion of the film's story is adapted into the gameplay.

As a heroine, Miette is as annoying as whiny brats come. At least Oliver Twist could sing. She makes the frustrating tasks even more tedious with her dull personality that qualifies her nothing more than a irritant brat at best.

It's your job to guide Miette via your arrow keys through the dirty and dismal streets, docks, elevated walkways and dangerous alleyways throughout the game as she wanders the town in the future. The actions Miette takes are very low-key compared to the exciting events of Broken Sword. Instead of murders, explosions and intricate puzzles, Miette simply has to sneak and duck behind boxes, ring bells and run away, pick items up and give banal items to characters. There is hardly any really stimulating events in the game, and the concentrated way of doing things (such as asking questions from a certain stance) seem to be insipid and nonintuitive. The game's short length is criminal to qualify it being worth a meagre amount of the price tag, collapsed on top of the fact that you won't be tasting any of the delights the film gave you.

Inventory gathering is the most baffling concept ever. Most items you need are hidden behind boxes or in some dark place that is normally hard for to find. Luckily for us that when Miette is beside an item, it will appear in the upper right hand corner in a small box indicating you to pick it up. Unfortunately though, it means you need to make sure that Miette wanders everywhere as you need to be on a right pixel to view the box to pick the item up. Finding the items is plain hard because you can't see the items and to be frank, you're basically looking for the exact pixel to be standing on to access the option. Also, some of the items are unneccessary and it is highly irritating when you find out that you didn't need them in the first place.

Why City Of The Lost Children blagged a release on the Playstation console is beyond me when you look at the terrible graphics. However, this PC version is much more polished with very uniquely watercoloured shading and perfectly lifelike motion from the characters appearances that grab a spot of the captivation the film did when it was released. It's true that the gameplay is hardly anything to raise a smile about but wandering the gloomy streets with Miette is just a joy to watch because of the graphical grandeur of things; such as Miette's flowing dress and real time shadows that show her in a different light. The many close ups of her innocent face is great testing of the console.

The musical score is also quite gripping. Some of the music will be sinister and dismal when Miette is in the gutter slewn streets and at the dock there will be a more ambient sound. The introduction musical sequence is orchestra music on liberating top form and it's only a pity that City Of The Lost Children didn't hold more scenarios to invite more of the wonderful music into the game. Voice acting is also used and Miette is given a typical English accent which sounds snobby and prude, as if she was far too above being an orphan with hardly any emotion in her dialogue other than when she's whining about not being able to do a task you've given her. With the lack of character interaction in the game, the time you get to hear speech from them is distinctly underwhelming.

Trounced by a poor budget and no immense detail attention regarding the gameplay, City Of The Lost Children has no conviction over its maker that is the film and to be honest, there is no real justification why it should have been released as a game. It will do absolutely nothing whatsoever for the stagnant adventure genre other than to set an example of why the genre is struggling to appeal to new audiences in the first place. The heart of the game is entirely marred with mocking, comatose gameplay and an upsettingly stale plot development. City Of The Lost Children neatly wraps up the film's memorable imagery in a beautiful world of 3D graphics but in the end is just a pointless and tiringly below average game.