Developed By: Sketchbook Games, Fourth State Published By: Modus Games Categories: Narrative, Adventure, Platformer Release Date: 04.06.21
How do you deal with grief? In Lost Words: Beyond the Page, the main character; Izzy writes. Well, she doesn’t write her story initially due to grief. At first, she just writes in her journal, decided to create a story. Izzy is a budding writer after all. During this, a tragic event occurs in her life. She tells herself that she’s writing to keep her mind off of it, but it bleeds into her new world, eventually hitting a painful climax, which changes both worlds.
Lost Words is in ways, a platformer mixed with a bit of a game of Mad Libs or choose your adventure. While Izzy creates the outline of the world of Estoria, you the player choose the details. The name of the girl in the story, what she excels at, her favorite colors. The further you go in, you decide how parts of the story unravel. The way the girl feels about her actions. The reasons for how someone else does something. There is no true, set way of these decisions, so once you beat the game, try other choices.
Words are power in Lost Words. The little girl is a magician, given a book with the power to use words, from the Elder of her home. These words help the girl to get across Estoria safely. Destroying obstacles in her way, repairing the broken environment. Set and put out flames. The power to raise platforms, to illuminate. The book of words grows as the adventure goes on, when needed, the words come and go. Seeing as there is no fighting, these spells are all you need.
Outside of Estoria, in Izzy’s journal, she discusses her life as it unfolds. There’s a beautiful watercolor look to everything. As Izzy speaks and writes, you walk and platform on the words. Sometimes a word you can use like one of those spells in Estoria will come up and allow you to interact with the journal. It’s an incredibly creative way to move the narrative. When things are good, everything is clean, organized, colorful. At times that they’re not, they’re dark, broken, in shambles. This helps in a visual sense to really display how Izzy is feeling, her thoughts, if she’s lost.
SPOILERS BEGIN BELOW
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is about a young girl dealing with the sudden event of her grandmother’s passing after a stroke. Being a small child, Izzy isn’t prepared or even knows how to process this in a mature way. While the story of Estoria begins innocent enough, with a young girl and the village elder, it soon becomes apparent what her home being destroyed stands for. What the people she meets who are pushing her away or irrationally angry stand for. The Dragon who destroyed her home. In the best way possible, it’s Izzy putting her feelings to page. The story ends with Izzy finally coming to terms and finding acceptance. Each level in the game is a different stage of grief.
While this is all done through the eyes of a child, it’s done in such a masterful way. Environments in Estoria that you travel though explain just as much as the explicit words from Izzy. The stress of a village on fire. The emptiness of the world in water below.
Normally, I dislike including spoilers in a review. I want the read to experience a game their own way the first time. Lost Words is an incredibly powerful, emotional game. In order to describe it, you need to explain why it’s powerful. Why it’s impactful. Why this is worth someone’s time. The game is about death, and subsequently how a child deals with it, but never bashes you over the head about it. Rhianna Pratchett’s writing perfectly captures the way a child would think about these things, how her peers would treat her during it. All of this without coming off as cheap, or like it’s trying to make you feel bad. While I did see a certain event happening a mile a way, I didn’t expect the game to pull it off as well as it did.
I was in love, entrapped in Lost Words. From the creativity of the journal sections, to the beauty of the Estoria sections. I wanted, no needed to know how the story unraveled. From collectable fireflies to the alternate word choices, there’s plenty of replayability for what is otherwise compact, brief experience. Please play this game.
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*Game Download Code supplied for review purposes