The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure

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The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure
Lost Crown cover.jpg
Developer(s) Darkling Room
Shadow Tor Studios (Special effects)
Publisher(s) Got Game Entertainment (U.S.)
Akella (Russia, ex-USSR)
Mamba Games (UK and Europe as of September 2009)
Iceberg Interactive
Designer(s) Jonathan Boakes
Engine Made with Wintermute Engine
Platform(s) Windows XP & Vista
Release date(s) Spring 2008 (U.S.) / July 2008 UK.
Genre(s) Third & First-person adventure
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution CD (2) U.S. / DVD (1) UK

The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure is a British graphic adventure video game released in 2008. The Lost Crown is the third full title to be written and developed by Jonathan Boakes, author of Dark Fall: The Journal and Dark Fall 2: Lights Out. The screenplay follows the adventure of Nigel Danvers, as he experiences the paranormal in his quest to find the fabled Lost Crown of Anglia.

Plot[edit]

Vividly set in the fictional harbour town of Saxton in The Fens of eastern England, The Lost Crown follows the adventures of two young ghost-hunters, Nigel Danvers and Lucy Reubans. Nigel has fled London, following the theft of several documents from his employer, The Hadden Corporation. The documents contain proof of Hadden’s involvement in experiments with paranormal forces, and the existence of ‘chasm ghosts’. Two Hadden agents, Mr. Hare and Mr. Crow are dispatched to capture Danvers and return the stolen documents.

Nigel takes refuge in Saxton, where he meets local psychology student, Lucy Reubans. Together they set out to solve local mysteries, study paranormal activity and discover the whereabouts of a legendary Anglo-Saxon crown, thought to be buried somewhere in the vicinity around town. Nigel’s presence in the town does not go unnoticed. There are those, alive and dead, that do not wish the crown to be disturbed.[1]

Development[edit]

The Lost Crown was written by Jonathan Boakes, between 2005 and late 2007. The story is an exploration of the ‘classic ghost story’, featuring references to many ghost stories read by the author in childhood. Most notably, M. R. James A Warning to the Curious features many influential elements; the seaside setting, the legend of the lost Anglo-Saxon Crown, a greedy archaeologist and the presence of a ghostly guardian, sworn to protect the whereabouts of the crown, even after death.[2]

Other literary influences include J.L.Carr’s A Month in the Country,[citation needed] which features a lonely protagonist camped out in a rural country church, left alone to uncover a secret over the course of an apparently endless, hot summer.

Boakes also joined a group of ‘modern day ghost-hunters’ in order to research the game, following on from paranormal experiments seen in Dark Fall and Dark Fall 2. Known as This Haunted Land, the group are based in Cornwall, England, and share a passion for the paranormal and the use of technology used during investigations. Many of the results gleaned from those experiments have made their way into the game, such as the use of E.M.F meters, Nite-Vision cameras and E.V.P[3]

Many of the scenes were created from photography made in real places in Cornwall, notably the fishing towns of Looe and Polperro.

Gameplay[edit]

Presented in both first and third-person perspectives, The Lost Crown is a point-and-click game, featuring puzzles, conversations and inventory based interaction. The gamer follows the adventure of Nigel Danvers, as he wanders the harbour town of Saxton and the surrounding countryside, armed with a small arsenal of ghost-hunting gadgets. Eventually, after uncovering and exorcising several ghosts, Nigel discovers the whereabouts of a long lost Anglo-Saxon crown; thought to have crowned the king of the region, Ganwulf, back in the sixth century AD.[4]

Presentation[edit]

Unlike the previous games by Boakes, The Lost Crown features a large cast of game characters, from helpful sidekick (Lucy Reubans) to ghostly enemies such as The Agers or Track Men. All characters are voiced, and populate the fictional town of Saxton.

The visual appearance of the game is highly unusual. Many locations are based on ‘real’ places, located near the author’s home in Cornwall. The harbour town of Polperro features the most; photographed, augmented and presented as game screens, complete with weather effects and a realistic ambient score. Many of the locations are in black and white, with vivid patches of colour. Many gamers have noted that they dream in this way, leading many to believe the adventure is based within one persons mind, most likely being the mind of the lead character, Nigel Danvers. Nigel’s arrival, at the start of play, is on board an old-fashioned steam train, "The Sleepwalker".

Reception[edit]

The game was first released in North America by Got Game Entertainment in March, 2008. The first reviews included a rare score of A+ from Just Adventure, stating “To give it to you in a nutshell, The Lost Crown may actually go down in history as the best horror adventure game ever written... REALLY disturbing ... The Lost Crown is as close to perfection as any adventure game I have played in the last few years”.[5] The game received an overall score of 77% on Metacritic.[6] The game was released on DVD in the UK on the 18th of July 2008, in version 1.2. The game will be released in Europe (excluding France and Russia) in the 4th quarter of 2008.

GameFan awarded the game its "Best PC game of 2008" award as well as its "Adventure Game of the Year" and "Best Story" awards.[7]

Characters[edit]

Nigel Danvers The ‘hero’ of the piece; Nigel is an inexperienced ghost-hunter, employed by The Hadden Corporation, to uncover the paranormal secrets hidden throughout the English seaside town of Saxton. Nigel rents a small holiday home, Harbour Cottage, in the heart of Saxton. It is here and throughout the region that Nigel encounters many paranormal events, helping him to increase his knowledge of the paranormal, and learn the use of his ghost-hunting gadgets.

Lucy Reubans Lucy is a psychology student who knows the area well, having grown up in Saxton. Returning from college for the May Day Fayre, she begrudgingly joins Nigel on his quest to discover the Lost Crown, experiencing many paranormal events along the way. By the end of play, Lucy is also recruited by Mr. Hadden, suggesting a sequel, and further adventures for the character.

Mr. Hadden Nigel Danvers' boss, and owner of The Hadden Corporation. Hadden is seen only briefly, but appears to influence Nigel’s movements throughout the adventure. He has an uncanny talent of knowing where Nigel is, and what he is up to. Hadden is able to coerce Nigel into investigating ghostly phenomena and to make amends for Nigel’s theft of important Hadden Corporation documents.

Mr. Hare & Mr. Crow Agents and scientists of The Hadden Corporation.

Nanny Noah An elderly Saxton woman, Nanny Noah was once married to Robert Tawny, but separated following the death of their son, Cole, who drowned in the sea by Saxton Shore, many decades before the game begins. It is revealed that Nanny Noah’s real name is ‘Rose’, and romance between her and Bob Tawny (Robert) may blossom, once again. Nanny Noah lives in Saxton, in a small, flower-hemmed cottage known as The Ark. She has a dog called ‘George’, and likes to practise many esoteric arts, such as palm reading, tasseography and mind reading.

Station Master The first character encountered by Nigel Danvers, at Sedgemarsh Station. The Master tells Nigel that trains can't make it beyond Saxton, due to the ‘Spring Tides’, and that Nigel should cross the misty fenlands to town. The Station Master also gives Nigel the wallet of Lucy Reubans, telling him to return the item to its rightful owner. Later, the Station Master tells Nigel of a terrible accident, involving his father and the crew of The Apple Train. Nigel encounters these characters, as lethal ghosts, along the train line between Saxton and Northfield Junction.

Robert (Bob) Tawny Robert owns and works in the workshop on Station Lane, to the North of Saxton. He helps Nigel Danvers several times, by mending broken items and providing clues to some of the mysteries encountered by the player. Robert was once married to Nanny Noah, rearing one child, Cole Tawny, who drowned in the water by Saxton Shore. Robert is well known locally, and provides food at the annual Fayre. His workshop is old fashioned, even by Saxton standards, and is joined to a pigsty.

Professor Hardacre A professor of archaeology and well-known Saxton personality. Hardacre resents Nigel Danvers' presence in the town, believing he is an unwelcome rival in his search for the lost Anglo-Saxon crown. Warning him away from the area, Hardacre attempts to scare Nigel, suggesting Nigel’s temporary home, Harbour Cottage, is haunted by malevolent spirits.

Alex Spitmoor Introducing himself to Nigel as an investigative journalist, Alex claims to be looking into recent disappearances among the village's pet cats. It soon becomes evident that he is just as interested in Nigel's own activities, and is keeping tabs on the newcomer's movements.

Wesely Russet Nigel encounters Wesely Russet at both the Northfield and Ulcombe churches. The Russet family have lived in the Saxton area for many centuries, giving Wesely an unrivaled knowledge and perspective on local customs and folklore. He is a deeply superstitious man, warning Nigel that “some treasures are lost for a reason”. Russet busies himself by tending the churchyards, digging graves and entertaining the local wildlife.

Professor Oogle Curator of Saxton Museum, and expert on all things Saxtonian and ‘local’. Oogle does not believe Nigel should be looking for the Lost Crown, but is persuaded to help once Nigel has provided previously unknown information regarding some of Saxton’s historical mysteries. Oogle grows to believe that Nigel is destined to find the Crown, and the item should take “pride of place in our humble museum”.

Morgan Mankle Owner of The Bear, Saxton’s one and only drinking establishment. She lives with the pub cat, Spivey, in the rooms above the pub. Unable to accommodate Nigel in The Bear, Morgan lets him stay in Harbour Cottage, a little further along the quayside. Morgan is known to Lucy Reubans, who refers to her as “a bully”. On May Day, Morgan appears at the Fayre as Mystic Morgan, the Gypsy Fortune-Teller. She warns Nigel, via her crystal ball, that his quest may bring about his doom.

Edmund Gruel and Jemima Owner of the Antiques Shop, Gruel refuses to talk to people directly, preferring to do so through his rag doll, Jemima. Nigel steals the journal of William Ager from Gruel, which is vital to put Nigel on course to the Lost Crown.

Katherine Karswell Wife of Robert, Katherine is a white witch, or wicca, based in the lanes near Northfield. She lives, in what was once, the old Ager Farmstead. She befriends Nigel, after he helps cook a recipe of Seven Birds and Nut Broth. Unknown to Nigel, Katherine and her husband Robert, are actually ghosts from the 1960s. The pair perished in a fire, caused by Brock The Farmer. Brock was Katherine’s ‘stalker’, believing her rightful place was with him, at Brock Farm.

Robert Karswell Husband of Katherine, Robert is an eccentric, and short-tempered man, interested in the geology around Northfield, just outside Saxton. Robert helps Nigel discover the real purpose behind ‘The Millstones’ (an ancient local monument) and the whereabouts of Northfield Church. Robert Karswell, along with his wife, are actually ghosts from the 1960s. The pair perished in a fire, caused by Brock The Farmer. Brock was Katherine’s ‘stalker’, believing her rightful place was with him, at Brock Farm.

Nancy Brewer Found in Ulcombe Church, Nancy is a ghost from the Second World War. She and her brother, Timmy, were sent to the countryside as evacuees, back in the 1940s. Nancy suspects that she is a ghost, but has been hiding the fact from her younger brother. Nancy is unable to ‘move on’, or cross to the other side, as she has never understood why her beloved father “never wrote to her and Timmy”. Nigel reveals to Nancy that her letters were never passed on by her stepmother. Nancy and Timmy are free to leave Ulcombe Church once Nigel has provided a letter from their father.

Timmy Brewer Found in Russet’s shed, at the rear of Ulcombe Church, Timmy Brewer is a ghost evacuee from World War 2. He and his sister, Nancy, are trapped at Ulcombe following a fatal fall from the cliff path near the church. Nigel helps Timmy solve a riddle, which in turn allows Nigel to talk with his sister. Timmy’s ghost is able to leave Ulcombe once Nigel has provided a letter from their father. Also deceased.

The Agers Four brothers, William, Nathanial, Frederick and Thomas, devoted to the protection of the lost Anglo-Saxon Crown. While alive, the brothers believed a terrible fate would befall England if the crown was discovered and removed from its hiding place. In death, the brother’s ghosts maintain their vigil, and attempt to stop anyone (alive or dead) from discovering the whereabouts of the crown.

Nicolas Gurney Deceased antiquarian and painter. The effigy of Gurney can be seen in the Sanctuary of Northfield Church. Nigel communicates with this character, after returning his stone hands and coat of arms. Gurney was murdered by Thomas Ager, back in 1799, after Gurney located the whereabouts of the Anglo-Saxon Crown.

Doctor Black An eccentric man, Doctor Black is the local General Practitioner (Doctor). Nigel encounters this character on Saxton Shore, where he paints foreboding images of The Old Net Store. Black is able to ‘see’ figures in the landscape, who are invisible to others.

Rhys Branwen Owner of Celtic Corner, and New Age specialist. He lives alone with Mr. Tibbs, his cat, and takes a shine to Nigel, after Nigel enters his shop to research local ghost stories. Rhys organises the local competition, a photographic event, known at Saxton Snappers. He is devastated by the kidnapping of his beloved cat, near May Day, only to be reunited once Nigel has rescued the animal from Ulcombe Church.

The Rector Northfield’s Rector, found in the vestry of that location. He is a devout Christian, with no time for talk of ghosts, legends and the Lost Crown. He is impressed by Nigel’s interest in the church, only to be disappointed by Nigel’s real agenda; to seek ghosts. Nigel is unaware, upon meeting the Rector, that he is talking to a ghost. The Rector had died some days before hand, and Mr. Russet is actually digging his grave.

Emily Travers (The Siren of the Caverns) Emily was lured into the Saxton Caverns by William Ager, back in the 1940s. He had promised to show her a rare flower, The Pasque Flower. After attempting to kiss Emily, Ager was forced to smother her, leaving her for dead in the watery caverns. Nigel encounters, and frees this spirit, after locating The Pasque Flower.

Walter Spivey An unseen character, Spivey is a local legend. He is a famed captain, who many believe was an honest and gentlemanly seafarer. The reality is that Spivey was a smuggler and treasure hunter. He robbed the Saxton seabed of many artefacts, passing them off as imported treasures. He utilised the local Antiquaries shop, owned by an ancestor of Edmund Gruel, to distribute the haul. Spivey did not know, or didn’t care to know, that the treasures were most likely to be from the fallen Anglo-Saxon kingdom at Ulcombe.

Edward Molina (Eduardo de Molina) Changing his name from his native Spanish, Edward moved to Saxton in the 1950s to continue his import/export business. He invited his wife, Christina, to join him after the conversion of a harbour warehouse into Harbour Cottage. He believed the two would enjoy a long, and loving, relationship within the town. Tragically, Christina died shortly after their arrival. Edward was heart broken, believing his invitation, and insistence, to stay in Saxton, was the cause of her death. Edward killed himself after placing a noose around his neck, and jumping from the balcony at Harbour Cottage. His ghost haunts the place, until Nigel exorcises both he and his wife.

Christina Molina The wife of Edward, died in Harbour Cottage, following a long and painful poisoning from the stagnant water beneath the cottage. She believed her husband was responsible, but was unable to confide in anyone, being a stranger to the town. Christina communicates with Nigel, throughout the screenplay, via voice, action and apparition. She wishes Nigel to uncover the secret behind her death, so she can finally move on and meet her beloved husband once more.

Verity Church The ghost of a young girl, who haunts the corridors and basement of Saxton Museum. She teases Nigel by interrupting his mission, insisting that he play with her and sing her songs. Nigel does this, and discovers that Verity is an unpleasant ghost (and perhaps, was an unpleasant child), who knows, or knows of, the Ager brothers. She suggests that Nigel is going to be murdered by William Ager, who will “chop, chop, chop off his head”.

Locations[edit]

Saxton A harbour town on the English coastline. It is famed for its legends, extreme weather and local mysteries. Many arrive in Saxton, come May, to seek the fabled Anglo-Saxon Crown, thought to be hidden in the landscape outside the town.

Saxton Shore A large, eerie, beach to the East of town. It is here that Nanny Noah lost her son, Cole, many decades before the start of play. The beach is a mixture of sand and shingle, with caverns flanking on all sides. The Old Net Hut dominates the beach, casting a foreboding shadow across, what could be, a pleasant attraction.

Saxton Caverns A warren of caves and tunnels by Saxton Shore. The cave system contains Grindle’s Maw, a large chamber famous for its carvings and stalactites. A bottomless chasm can be found deeper in the caves, as well as the secret smugglers stash belonging to Walter Spivey, the famed sea captain.

Harbour Cottage The cottage was purchased, at auction, by the Mankle family, who had plans to transform the near derelict warehouse into an impressive holiday rental. Plagued by accidents and ill-fortune, the cottage remained empty, until the arrival of Nigel Danvers. The cottage is haunted by Edward and Christina Molina, the last people to live in the building. Lucy Reubans gained access to the building, at some point in her childhood, and encountered a terrible force, which left her psychologically scarred.

The Bear Saxton’s one and only drinking establishment owned and run by Morgan Mankle with Spivey, the pub cat. The pub plays host to the annual photographic competition, Saxton Snappers. Like many local buildings, The bear was once a fisherman’s store, or warehouse.

Sedgemarsh Fenland Reserve This ancient section of landscape is preserved by RAPA (The Royal Society for the Protection of Anglia). Sedgemarsh is a watery, swamp-like, location, hidden within acres if reed beds and sand dunes. Many believe the “deep, dark, swamp-like water” covers ancient Anglo-Saxon and Neolithic treasures.

Sedgemarsh Station The last stop before Saxton, Sedgemarsh is an isolated train station, based in the nature reserve of the same name. The tracks from Sedgemarsh lead to Northfield Junction, which allows access to The Carrion Wood and Northfield Church.

The Carrion Wood A large pine forest, based in the landscape around Northfield. The woods are littered with ancient treasures and monuments, as well as more modern mine shafts and farm buildings. Several treasure hunters, and amateur historians, believe the wooded hillside may have been the location of an ancient kingdom.

Northfield A pre-Norman religious site, now crowned by a Gothic style church. The building is isolated but well kept, by Wesely Russet, who tends to the graves and church interior. Nearby, The Carrion Woods, encroach upon the site on two sides. Beyond the church, there is a farmstead, once owned by both the Agers, and later the Karswells.

Fenland Eye A narrow, cave tunnel, which joins Saxton Shore to the fenland reserve of Sedgemarsh. The cave walls are decorated with ancient murals, carvings and graffiti. Some passages, off of the Fenland Eye, have been sealed, due to instability.

Ulcombe A small, forgotten, parish based along the cliff top path from Saxton. Almost no-one knows, or remembers, the place, through choice or otherwise. The place is dominated by a large, crumbling church, built upon ancient plague pits and natural caverns. Wesely Russet, who tends to the church, has begun cutting back The Carrion Wood, which threatens to “swamp old Ulcombe in its leafy green shroud”.

Ganwulf’s Kingdom Hidden beneath the hillside near Northfield, the lost kingdom is a massive warren of passages and great halls. Originally powered by water, the kingdom has begun to collapse through lack of use. It is unknown why the kingdom was abandoned, centuries ago, but attempts to steal Ganwulf’s crown are most likely to be the cause.

Saxton Museum Formally the Town Hall, Saxton Museum is based in the heart of town, and boasts many treasures, discovered both locally and abroad. The museum has one curator, Mr. Oogle, who has known the building through its many changes. The place is looking rather tired, and neglected, but a recent donation by The Hadden Corporation, has seen new additions brighten the place, such as digital screens and interactive displays.

Saxton Station In the heart of Saxton, the station gets very little use, due to coastal erosion, and the high spring tides. Nevertheless, the station is manned, by the Station Master, and boasts a fine collection of railway memorabilia and antique photographs.

Filming Locations[edit]

The Lost Crown: A Ghost-Hunting Adventure features many real locations, from Cornwall and Devon. These locations are presented photographically:[8]

  • Polperro: Doubling as the fictional town of Saxton, Polperro is in South-East Cornwall. It is a functioning fishing port, with many attractions and features. The town is seen throughout The Lost Crown, providing locations such as:
    • The Bear: In reality, an old warehouse by the seafront.
    • Harbour Cottage: Known as Studio Cottage, on the harbour quayside.
    • Willy Wilcox Cave: Appears as the Saxton Caverns, and Grindle’s Maw. In reality, the cave system is much smaller than that seen in-game.
    • Celtic Corner: Based on the cliff road, above Polperro, the real building is currently empty and a little derelict.
    • Bob Tawny’s Workshop and Pigsty: A real workshop, once used to store boat makers equipment and harbour machinery.
    • The Lighthouse Café: Is a real restaurant, known as The House on Props. The location is semi-famous, after being painted and photographed by thousands of artists and tourists.
    • The Saxton Museum: Once a civic building, the premises are currently empty, awaiting refurbishment.
  • Duloe Church, St. Cuby’s: This appears, in-game, as the fictional church at Northfield. All of the scenes shown in-game can be found at this location, including the stone effigy, slate carvings, Elizabethan rood screen and wooden pews. The Vestry, featured, was not photographed at this location. Instead, the vestry at Pelynt Church was used.
  • Morwellham Quay: A popular Devonshire tourist attraction, the restored buildings at Morwellham provided a suitable location for the Karswell’s rural farmhouse.
  • Looe: Like Polperro, Looe is a seaside town in South East Cornwall. It is visually distinctive for its ‘Banjo Pier’, (seen in-game as The Martello Tower) and huge, sandy beach (seen in-game as the fens and Saxton Shore). The Antique Shop, on Looe High Street, is also seen, in-game as Mr. Gruel’s Antiques.
  • Talland Bay: Talland Parish Church, on the cliffs, above Talland Bay doubles as the fictional Ulcombe Church, seen in-game during May Day. The real church does not have underground crypts or a tower full of ancient steam machinery. The interior scenes, seen in-game, match the real location, with the church organ dominating the aisle.
  • Stocks Lane: This small country road joins Duloe with Causeland, in South East Cornwall. It appears in game as the road from Northfield Junction and Ager House. The Carrion Wood, in reality, is a dense, dark wood known locally as Windsor Woods. Some woodland scenes were also captured, in the Trelawne Woods, near Pelynt.
  • Hannafore Beach: Appears in-game, as the jagged rocks of The Pinnacles. The location, in reality, does appear very similar, offering a maze like series of jagged passages, and foggy coastal views.

Sequel[edit]

A sequel has been planned entitled The Last Crown: Haunting of Hallowed Isle.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Lost Crown" Official Website
  2. ^ "Jonathan Boakes Biography"
  3. ^ "This Haunted Land" Ghost-hunters & the paranormal
  4. ^ The Lost crown US Game Manual
  5. ^ "Just Adventure +" The Lost Crown Review
  6. ^ "Metacritic" The Lost Crown Overall Score
  7. ^ Alexander Lucard. "Diehard GameFAN's 2008 Gaming Awards". Diehard GameFAN. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  8. ^ "The Real Saxton: Interactive Map"
  9. ^ "The Last Crown" Official Website

External links[edit]