Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a narrative-driven, atmospheric puzzler set inside the pages of a young girl’s diary. Following an immersive story by renowned games writer Rhianna Pratchett (Heavenly Sword, Mirror’s Edge, and Tomb Raider). In-game, you have to guide an aspiring author through the wondrous fantasy world of Estoria, where words wield immense power. You can also interact with the words themselves to solve challenging puzzles and unique platforming segments to progress through an evolving landscape.
This coming of age tale consists of two parallel narratives, one being the author’s real-life events and the other is where she escapes into her boundless fantasy. To my surprise, it wasn’t the fantasy that won me over. It was the real-life journal entries that struck true to their tone. You must be wondering how the game manages to juggle between these two worlds. How do real-life happenings affect our fantasies? Well, let’s find out.
The Heart is Where the Journal’s at!
The entire game takes place in a Journal of a pre-teen girl named ‘Izzy’. Thanks to her boundless imagination, her diary is one heck of a wondrous world. Here, drawings come alive, words provoke thoughts, and when they are moved, everything changes.
Through Izzy’s Journal, you will be exploring two parallel storylines- one deals with Izzy’s real-life issues centered mostly around her maternal grandmother who’s struggling with her illness and the other is featured in Izzy’s fantasy world ‘Estoria’ where you will be playing as a firefly guardian of a fictional village.
While the latter didn’t seem that innovative to me, Izzy’s real-life journal entries really felt alive to me. The way she evokes her emotions through her words and reminisces her day-to-day happenings makes her easy to relate to. It sort of reminded me of my own grandmother, thanks to Izzy’s simplistic yet realistic depiction of emotions.
The game consists of 8 chapters in total, each chapter features a chunk of Izzy’s real-life happenings that were put upon her journal followed by her fantasy tale which can be slightly curated as per your choices.
Magic Words: Some will stay, Others are Fleeting!
Though Lost Worlds highly lacks in terms of basic platformer mechanics, its ingenious wordplay makes it more narrative-heavy, which is quite rarely seen in platformers. The environments are interactable through the use of words. Some of them remain with Izzy while others disappear after their use. Though this phenomenon applies to both the worlds in the game, its implementation during Izzy’s journal entries seems more subtle.
The journal entries were my favorite part of the game, the use of word-play is far more innovative during these sections. At first, it’s just as simple as moving words around to make up platforms and jump over sentences. But later, as Izzy’s thoughts flesh out, these words would often uncover the ‘hidden thoughts’ behind her simplistic depictions. The element of surprise is always there, making everything far intriguing than what meets the eye.
However, when it comes to the fantasy world of Estoria, everything looks like a ‘Plain-Jane’ makeup of usual platformers. Even the application of words doesn’t bring out the best of things that one could expect. You just move words to move, break or repair things with occasional alterations. It just did not seem all that innovative to me. If it wouldn’t have been for the Journal Entries, the ship would have sunk halfway through.
A Child’s Play!
The game’s visuals and sounds bear a genuine child-like whimsicality, making it all look like a child’s play. As per visuals it mostly resembles a Disney slideshow that popularized the genre of animation amongst children. It looks great with striking colors and the art style never fails to convey even the most extreme of emotions.
However, the soundtracks even though orchestral at times, didn’t pan out to my tastes. I gotta blame the likes of Nobuo Uematsu to spoil my senses with their stupendous works. Still, it does fit the game’s theme, I just didn’t find it that memorable. However, the game does feature proper voice-acting, which is quite unusual and impressive considering its modest price tag.
If you like narrative-based platformers, Lost Worlds won’t let you down. Even if you prefer reflex-based puzzler platformers, the game is worth a try due to its down-to-earth heart-warming Journal Entries. Considering its decent story, innovative wordplay, and modest price tag, it is easy to recommend.