Review: Lost New York

(A compelling time-trip through the Big Apple’s history. Lost New York - Details (ifdb.org))

Jump Forward…Fall Back.

The train got you to New York right on time as scheduled… Which means you now have an entire afternoon’s worth of time to kill before your friends get off work. Seeing as you’re now a bit of a stranded tourist, why not make the most of it?

Lady Liberty seems like a good place to start. After poking around a bit (as adventurous tourists are wont to do) and standing in line for way too long, lo and behold, you find a portal to the past!

Lost New York is a time traveling sightseeing game. There is no pressing urgency, no impending city-threatening catastrophe. The essence of the game really is wandering around through New York in different eras of its construction.

That doesn’t mean there are no puzzles. Oh my, but there are puzzles. Many depend on carefully remembering buildings or NPCs from different time zones and traveling back and forth with the necessary items. The majority are well integrated and quite intuitive for the helpful and inquisitive tourist PC you are guiding along, but there is no larger motivation to solve them. Indeed, from outside the game the puzzles mostly seem put there to force you to explore thoroughly and see as much as possible of the city the author has recreated in the game.

For the best experience, it is not recommended to focus too much on solving the obstacles as quickly and efficiently as possible. Instead, hang around, spend some time in interesting places. Well written and fascinating scenes are bound to unfold. This does mean that you will probably die on multiple occasions, or end up an adventure zombie at the least. Make sure to have a few save files at the ready. (Dying or quitting prematurely compares you to a New York mayor. The accounts of their accomplishments and fraudulence are worth dying for.)

The exploration of the history of New York is where the heart of Lost New York lies. A few smaller areas are mostly there for variety and mixing up the puzzle-solutions. The meat of the game is in traversing and comparing the two big maps/years: 1880 and 1905.
The sideways encounters with some historical NPCs made me curious enough to do some research into the lives of Emma Goldman and Robert Moses among others.
The most impressive character in the game however is the city of New York itself. The author has lovingly recreated a miniature Big Apple with lots of famous and infamous locations. The traffic and hassle on the streets, the descriptions of buildings and parks, the shops and saloons,… They all call forward a city bustling with life and productivity.
The differences between time zones add to the impression of life and growth. A construction site here, a half-finished bridge there, the transition from above-ground railways to subway tunnels,… All paint a vivid picture of a city in flux, constantly on the move, hurrying toward the future.

While there is no suspense involved in your sightseeing trip through the past, there is much excitement to be found in the exuberant and detailed descriptions of New York. Even the parser gets in on the action by replying to a failed command in a typical brusque NY manner (>GET PAINTING “Get real!”)

The love and fascination of the author for the city of New York shines through in every paragraph, even when describing the more shadowy sides of its history and geography.

A beautiful, entertaining, fascinating historical tour.

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By chance this game was on a CD we got when I was 13 and is one of the first IF I ever played…

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