In preparation for the new season of Lost, ABC's online alternate-reality game, Find 815, has been running for the past month. The game, chock-full of hints and clues to the new season, is no less time-consuming than its predecessor, The Lost Experience, but ultimately more rewarding. The game gets updated today at noon and ends two hours before the season premiere tonight. For fans eager to enter the Lost universe a little early — but not so eager to blow a week on the game — here's a quick rundown of the tantalizing clues the game offers … plus a few cheats to get you straight to the good stuff, so you don't get, um, lost.
On December 28, ABC Medianet released a statement on behalf of fictional Oceanic Airlines announcing its return to service in nine markets (characters' hometowns, natch). The contact number, when called, played a message directing callers to Oceanic’s new Website, which displays a promo video for the airline that had been hacked by a guy whose partner, Sonya, was a flight attendant onboard Oceanic 815. He’s pissed that Oceanic is calling off the search for the missing plane and that everyone who was onboard is to be declared deceased. Helpfully, his video also reveals the address Find815.com, which is the entry point for the game. Use the Story So Far button to navigate through the chapters.
In the game: Sam Thomas, a bitter Aussie, is introduced as an Oceanic IT technician, and we see a news report of him speaking out against the airline, which soon fires him. Out of the blue, he gets an e-mail from an unknown sender containing a picture of Sonya, except there are hidden messages written on the picture: “Christiane I,” “tell no one — grave consequences,” “black rock,” and “sunda trench.” Sam writes back, receives a reply of nonsense symbols (except for “the-maxwell-group.com”), and then heads to Jakarta after learning that Christiane I is a boat.
What you need to know: Sam may or may not be a character on the new season of Lost. Black Rock happens to be the name of the dynamite-containing ship on the island, so perhaps the island is near the Sunda Trench near Indonesia? Also, the Maxwell Group, like the Hanso Foundation, is mysterious.
Must-see: Sam’s kind of an intense guy, and watching him detect the differences between his picture of Sonya and his e-mail is amazing. Watch Sonya’s Picture, then do an extreme zoom on her face to find the secret messages.
In the game: Sam gets to Indonesia and weasels his way onto the boat by impressing Captain Ockham and expedition supervisor Oscar Talbot with his technical skills. Sam receives yet another mysterious e-mail, this one containing some numbers and dashes. Wanting more info about the expedition he’s on, Sam asks his all-knowing friend Tracey to dig up info on Talbot and the Black Rock. He also hears a radio broadcast from 1937 covering Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. Tracey tells Sam that Talbot has a sketchy history in the diamond trade and that the Black Rock is a slave ship.
What you need to know: Sam is on a boat that is possibly headed toward the island, increasing the chances that he might show up on the actual series. Also, the anachronistic radio broadcast plays into the buzz that time travel may be an element of Lost from now on. Perhaps the Sunda Trench is a time portal? Also, Nikki and Paulo had some pretty nice diamonds; is that what Talbot’s after?
Must-see: Clicking on Fix the Chart Plotter shows how Sam used his smarts to get on the boat, but you’ll have to help him fix the device in under three minutes. Don’t be afraid to use the cheat.
In the game: Sam gets curious and snoops around Talbot’s room, where he finds a confidential file prepared by the ever-mysterious Maxwell Group with the title “Proposed Salvage of ‘The Black Rock’ Shipwreck.” Sam gets another mysterious e-mail with some random letters in it. One night, the ship’s electrical equipment freaks out and Sam writes Tracey to ask what could have happened. She replies that a strong wave of electromagnetic energy would do the trick. Sam figures out that the e-mail with numbers is a set of coordinates and he’s going to pinpoint their location.
What you need to know: A strong wave of electromagnetic energy? Oh, kind of like the one that might have been released at the end of season two when Locke didn’t push the button and Desmond had to blow up the hatch? Yeah, that would be the one, so it seems like the Christiane I is getting close. Also, the Maxwell file says the company is a division of Widmore Industries, as in Penny Widmore, Desmond’s rich, devoted girlfriend. Furthermore, the Maxwell Group’s compass logo switches east and west, and that weirds us out.
Must-see: Click on Talbot’s Cabin and have fun looting through his stuff. (The briefcase combo is 852 930.)
In the game: Sam plots the coordinates and sees that they pinpoint a location in the trench. Talbot finds the coordinates on a piece of paper and warns Sam, “You don’t know who you’re dealing with.” Sam gets some good news about receiving an insurance payout from a burned-down box company he invested in. On the deck of the ship, Sam sees a strange green light and consults his genius friend Tracey once again. She thinks it might be an aurora but finds it strange that he is not in a polar region where they normally occur. Sam decodes the latest Maxwell Group e-mail as “Love you madly,” which was his and Sonya’s signature phrase — and which her ghostly image sometimes appears and says throughout the chapters.
What you need to know: The aurora? In the tropics? Why, that's as crazy as a polar bear on a tropical island! Also, Sam is totally connected to the islanders now, seeing as how he invested in Hurley’s box company, so now we really think he’ll be on the show.
Must-see: Click on the clue hunt, which you can skip, but pay attention to the preceding video, in which Sam spots the eerie green lights hovering over the sea.
In the game: Sam convinces Captain Ockham to head to the coordinates he found in Talbot’s cabin and, despite some of Talbot’s interference, the Sonar locates the Black Rock. In the next update of this unfinished chapter, Sam’s going to head underwater to get a look at what’s down there.
What you need to know: We know for a fact that the Black Rock is on the island, so there’s no telling what Sam’s going to find, though it would be awesome if he ran into Jacob. The next part of the chapter goes live at noon, so block out some time this afternoon for a dip with Sam, and don’t miss the final part of the game two hours before tonight’s premiere.
Must-see: Check out Sam’s video diary. It’s full of distortion that will make you want to pause over and over again to figure out what images have been spliced in. Bonus: Though it's not a part of the game itself, you need to see this map created by another player displaying all the locations mentioned on the series and in the game.
If we wanted to give you a detailed guide to the game, we’d have to write a book. But if you’re itching to go through all the reference-laden steps yourself, there are some friends who can help you out. —Michael Alan Connelly