Lost Words: Beyond The Page, developed by Sketchbook Games and Fourth State and produced by Modus Games is an interactive storytelling adventure that is written by Rhianna Pratchett. It is a tale about a young girl named Izzy and her Grandmother Barbara and the fantasy world that Izzy creates called Estoria.
The story interweaves between Izzy writing in her journal about her daily life experiences with her family, and her creation of the world of Estoria which the player experiences throughout the game. The art, music and atmosphere are superb with each bringing out their own pace and gravity to each of the chapters, either in Estoria or as part of Izzy’s journal. Lost Words interactive story has a plethora of emotions that the creator’s take the player through during this eight-to-ten-hour journey.
The story begins with Izzy journaling about her grandmother and some of the great times that they have had together. Izzy then decides, with the players help, to create a fantasy story for her gran about a place called Estoria. The player begins by running on the words in the journal and helps to solve little puzzles to reach the next page of the book. At different points in the story the player also helps Izzy create Estoria through their own choices of words and this includes the main character who, by choice and for reference across this review, was named Grace. Grace travels to her home in a treetop village to visit Elder Ava who is able to use the magic words book to protect the sacred fireflies of Estoria. Elder Ava bestows this gift on Grace and she starts off on a quest to save the sacred fireflies, defeat the dragon and save Estoria from a certain end. Each chapter ends with another journal entry from Izzy with more and more revealed about her relationship with her gran. As Izzy becomes more emotional those emotions, good or bad, show up in the next chapter’s writing and are a key part of the success of the storytelling in Lost Words. The middle chapters start to feel a tad long and slightly corny, but the payoff is well worth it in the end.
The gameplay is simple to use and understand and can be broken down in two parts:
• Journal chapter’s – the player runs across the words on the pages trying to reach the page turn symbol. In each page, there can be obstacles to jump across, doors to be opened or collectables to pick up to reach the next page. Periodically, a choice will present itself for the player to write an option into the journal that will shape the later story.
• Estoria chapters – the player will use a magic word book to progress in the level, utilising words to find the sacred fireflies and defeat the dragon. Examples of these are words like ‘rise’ which can raise platforms and ‘break’ used to destroy obstacles which will stay with you throughout the whole playthrough. Certain words will be fleeting with only one use available. The player can also move around blocks in Estoria to climb on to solve certain puzzles.
Lost Words has a lot of emotions that are connected to the main story arc. The main character will go between a range of emotions including happy, sad, depressed, excited, content and more across the playthrough. Emotions are used quite effectively in the journal chapters and these affect the world of Estoria chapters as Izzy translates those emotions into the next writing session. The atmosphere is set by the current emotional state of Izzy and can have quite dramatic but purposeful swings between chapters.
The art of Lost Words is beautifully done and is all drawn by hand with a bit of animation thrown in through use of the Unity engine. The fonts are vibrant and easy to read and the artistic direction changes based on the mood of the writing. The game moves from vibrant colour when Izzy is happy and excited to the drab grey and dark environments when she is sad and depressed. Lost Words art is uniquely captivating down to the final credits design.
This is a single-player adventure game with some mild platforming included. It can be paused for any parenting duties that arise and resumes without any issues, even after a long break. While it is kid friendly in most of its content, some topics may not be for young children unless the parents are ready for some hard questions about life and death.
Rob for One More Game
9 – Amazing – as near to a 10 as you are going to get without it being a 10. It’s an amazing experience that just requires that little something else to make it a masterpiece. Your hard earned cash and time would be well spent here.
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A review code was kindly provided by the publisher for this review on the Nintendo Switch. The game is available for Google Stadia, and it’s out now for PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.