Best Sound Effects: Lost: Via Domus
When you play a game all alone, with no distractions and headphones on your ears, there is nothing like a loud bang to make you jump from your seat or a menacing screech to send a cold shiver down your spine. Sound effects can be the perfect gimmick to achieve the desired emotional response such as tension, suspense, or even fright. Too many adventures get shortchanged in this subtly crucial area, but Lost: Via Domus, Ubisoft’s adaptation of the hit television drama series, does a wonderful job in wrapping players up in its unsettling island environment.
There is a sequence near the beginning of the game where players guide the amnesiac Elliot Maslow through a labyrinth of dark caves: bats squeak in the shadows and small waterfalls slosh against slippery rocks, distant thumps are amplified by the hollow cavities, and Elliot’s breath quickly becomes wheezy. This is just one example, but every sound in the game – from the roaring blast of the plane crash to the eerie, unidentifiable whispers in the jungle – is just as carefully designed and reproduced. While perhaps too brief and easy as an overall game, its impressive aural experience nevertheless makes Lost: Via Domus a stunningly atmospheric game.
Runners-Up: Sam & Max: Season Two, Chronicles of Mystery: The Scorpio Ritual
Readers’ Choice: Sam & Max: Season Two
Admit it: it was those underarm fart noises in Sam & Max: Season Two that decided this one, isn't it? Yeah, those almost won us over, too. Or maybe it was the sound of whapping Max out of the way, or the screeching tires of a careening DeSoto, or... well, you get the idea, since you selected it over The Lost Crown and A Vampyre Story in a loudly contested vote quite different from our own.
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Next up: Best Underground Adventure... the envelope, please.