Nearly a hundred years ago, Colonel Fawcett set out on an expedition to locate the famed Lost City of Z. Your sister, who was trying to follow the Colonel’s trail through the jungle, has also gone missing. Your mission in the hidden object game Lost City of Z is to find her, but be prepared – your journey won’t be an easy one.
Your quest will send you deep into the jungle, where you’ll retrace her steps and look for clues as to her fate. You’ll be provided with a list of items to find in each location; you can also review their silhouette in your GPS, which is a big help when it comes to tracking down vaguely-named objects like "bag" or "bug". The locations and objects are all very realistic and intricately detailed – which you might expect from a game made in partnership with National Geographic.
The upside is that you’ll see plenty of beautiful scenery as you trek through jungle. The downside is that because your list is limited to objects that could, conceivably, actually be in a village or camp, you’re stuck finding the same things over and over again.
As you continue your search for your sister, you’ll pick up some objects she’s left behind, like a flashlight, bush knife, and GPS antenna, all of which you’ll put to good use. You’ll use the knife to cut through vines and open new areas, and you’ll use the flashlight to search caves and other dark areas. The trouble with the flashlight is that while you’re using it, it acts as your cursor, and its blunt end makes it a bit awkward to know where exactly to click. Your punishment for random clicking isn’t particularly harsh, just a pop-up window that chides you a bit, but it’s frustrating to know exactly what you’re trying to grab and simply not be able to select it.
Your GPS also serves as your hints, sending out a sonar-like signal that shows you the general location of the item you’re trying to find. It’s in keeping with the game’s overall realistic approach, but it’s not always terribly helpful. Even when I knew the area where I should be looking, it was often still difficult to find the item I needed. The objects blend in very well with the background, sometimes because they’re small, other times because so much is the same color.
Adding to the frustration, for me at least, were the incessant background jungle noises. At one point, I actually had to turn the sound off, because some monkey or bird or insect was whining away so much it put my teeth on edge. So much for my dreams of one day traveling to the Amazon, I suppose.
One aspect of Lost City of Z that could (should) have been spun off into its own game is the photography. Just about every environment has an exotic or endangered animal lurking within it. Snap its picture with your camera, and the snapshot and a few facts about the creature will be saved to your photo album. Some of the animals, like the vibrantly colored Scarlet Macaw are easy to spot, but others are quite tricky; patiently hunting them down and taking their picture almost makes you feel like you’re on safari. It’s a fun diversion from the plethora of axes, ropes, and hoses you’ll be asked to find.
Lost City of Z is a competent hidden object game, with a few puzzles here and there, and some genuinely creative twists. Its biggest distinction, the realism provided by input from National Geographic, is ironically also its biggest fault. The richly detailed environments are lovely to look at, but difficult to actually find anything in, and looking for yet another set of gloves is a bit dull. The educational aspect is wonderful, but when it comes to the actual game, you can do better.