Lost Words: Beyond the Page
Gameplay 9
Graphics 9
Sound 9

Lost Words: Beyond the Page doesn’t offer much of a challenge in terms of platforming or puzzles, but that doesn’t make it any less compelling. The heartfelt story effortlessly draws players in right from the start while the charming visuals and moving soundtrack round out the package. The game tackles very difficult subjects in a way that both young and old can relate to while the charming presentation makes it even more memorable. It is more of an interactive experience than a game at times, but we wholeheartedly recommend Lost Words to anyone who can appreciate a great story.

Gameplay: Very easy and accessible, but it is the story that really sets this game apart.

Graphics: Both the journal and story sections of the game are beautiful.

Sound: The soundtrack is incredible and the voice acting superb

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Lost Words: Beyond the Page

Developer: Sketchbook Games, Fourth State | Publisher: Modus Games | Release Date: 2021 | Genre: Puzzle / Platformer/ Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

Most games can easily be broken down into how good they look, how nice they sound and how much fun they are to play. For other games, such as Lost Words: Beyond The Page, it is a little harder. This atmospheric narrative adventure features platforming and puzzles, but it is not going to cause any players to break a sweat. Instead, it is the story and emotion that make this game such a compelling title.

Lost Words opens with a journal given as a birthday present to a young girl named Izzy by her grandmother. Izzy aspires to be a writer and in the journal, she documents her hopes and dreams while describing the time she spends with her grandmother. However, Lost Words is not just the story of Izzy, but also that of the young girl in the fantasy story that she is trying to write. Here players are introduced to the world of Estoria, which Izzy has populated with peaceful folks living in harmony with nature and enjoying the protection of guardian fireflies. Players get to select a preset name for the protagonist of this tale (we chose Robyn), as well as the color of her outfit and pendant. It quickly becomes clear that Robyn is a fantasy stand-in for Izzy and her story is one of wide-eyed wonder and excitement.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t last as Izzy’s world comes crumbling down after her grandmother suffers a stroke. The tone of the story then shifts to Izzy attempting to process this tragic event through her journal entries while also making an effort to complete her story. The narrative in Lost Words was penned by Rhianna Pratchett and immediately draws players in. The heartfelt story hits a lot of emotional notes and anyone who has had to deal with the loss of a loved one will recognize what Izzy is going through. It can become bleak, but there is also an undercurrent of hope that shines through, and instead of wallowing in the sadness the game has an uplifting message.

Although the narrative elements really shine in Lost Words the visuals do a great job of keeping up. The game is split up into two segments and focuses both on Izzy’s journal as well as her story. The journal segments see words appearing on the blank pages as players control a small 2D sketch version of Izzy. Usually, there’s nothing more to do here than jump on words of a different color to trigger some event or jumping through a tear in the page to move on to the next page. Sometimes some words can be moved around and used as platforms or beautiful watercolor paintings as Izzy describes events. The journal is also a perfect reflection of Izzy’s mood with words that became scrawled if she’s angry and tears staining the pages if she’s sad. There’s also one poignant scene where the diary remains closed as the movement of light and shadows across it indicates time passing without Izzy having the strength to write anything.

The story segments, which are set in Estoria, take on a different tone with bright, colorful 3D visuals. All of the action takes place on a 2D plane, but Izzy and her surroundings are rendered in 3D. There are also some 2D elements in the foreground and background to add a little more detail to the levels. As players play the story within the story the narration appears on the screen, which makes each scene look like the illustrations in a children’s story. The levels themselves feature the usual assortment of forests, lava-filled caverns, sandy desserts, and even a beautiful underwater section. Since there are no real enemies to fight the levels can look and feel a little emptier than what one expects from a typical platformer, but it is still a thing of beauty.

Further adding to the emotional depth of the game is the beautiful soundtrack and incredible voice acting. The music for this game was composed by David Housden who also worked on titles like Thomas Was Alone and QUBE 2, but in our opinion, this game features some of his best work ever. By using an orchestra he managed to perfectly capture the fantasy grandeur of the game, but it is in the emotional moments that the music really shines. Kudos should also go to Sidonie Maria Šakālis who does an incredible job voicing Izzy. She has to go through a whole gamut of emotions for this game and does a really good job making Izzy more charming and relatable.

Where Lost Words might lose players is with the actual gameplay, which is as accessible as can be. Like we mentioned earlier, there are no enemies to battle and during the platforming sections, the penalty for missing a jump or falling down a bottomless pit is negligible. The game doesn’t feature health bars or limited lives either and overall it is easy enough that players of all ages can experience the moving storyline. The puzzle elements in Lost Words come in the form of obstacles that can only be overcome using a magical word. These obstacles are usually clearly indicated by their glowing blue hue and getting past them is as easy as selecting the right word from your journal. Some words are permanently in the journal, while others can only be used temporarily, but it’s usually not hard to figure out what has to be used. For example, if a large rock is blocking your way, then using the word “Break” will cause it to crumble while using “Repair” on a broken bridge will put it back together again. There are a few instances where players have to be a little more creative with the words at their disposal, but overall there’s nothing in this game that is overly taxing. There are some fireflies hidden away on each level for players in search of an extra challenge, but even these can often be found in plain sight.

Lost Words can be completed in about five hours, but although the platforming sections are not all that memorable the story is one that will stay with us for a long time. The developers have managed to turn a very difficult topic into something beautiful that will resonate with players of all ages and skill levels, which is not an easy feat. It does come at the cost of a challenge, so something like Gris which deals with similar topics but adds proper platforming challenges to the mix might be more appealing to hardcore players. For us, the beautiful visuals, moving soundtrack, and heartfelt story were enough to keep us glued to the game until the credits rolled. The time we spent with Izzy as she wrote in her diary and with Robyn as she made her way through Estoria has provided us with lasting memories that are easily worth the asking price. Lost Words is not a game you’ll want to buy if you want to challenge your puzzle-solving or platforming skills, but for an emotional journey that will tug at your heartstrings, it is hard to beat.

System Requirements

  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 7 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo or equivalent
  • Memory: 2 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Graphics Card with support for DirectX 11
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Storage: 3 GB available space
  • Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
  • OS: Windows 10 64 Bit
  • Processor: Intel i7 – 3.4Ghz
  • Memory: 6 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (3GB) or AMD equivalent
  • DirectX: Version 12
  • Storage: 3 GB available space

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