Remember the saying “the pen is mightier than the sword”? It’s not a thing we usually think about when it comes to video games; after all, who needs words when you can have a sword as tall as you are that slices through all your problems? Lost Words: Beyond the Page sets out to prove that the pen really can be the greatest tool of all, and it does an amazing job at making this point. Get it?
Lost Words is a side-scrolling platformer that follows young Izzy, a girl who loves to write. More than anything, she loves her stories and her family, especially her grandma. She decides she’s going to write her first story: the grand, fantastical adventure of a young girl armed with a magic book. The story starts out bright and cheerful. After receiving some grim news, Izzy begins to write a story about loss and fear. How her young heroine faces this fear is up to you.
With such a unique premise I couldn’t help but feel drawn in. To be the archetype of your own world is one thing, but to “design” this world yourself was something else entirely. Doing so requires a mix of decision-making and puzzle solving. The story is driven by the decisions the player makes. You’ll decide who the heroine of the story is, and how she copes with the destruction her home faces.
The puzzles rely on the player using a series of magical words to manipulate objects to continue on. Some words are permanent, like “rise” and “repair.” You’ll find them scattered throughout the world, and they’ll be added to your book to be used anytime. Other words are temporary, and only appear in the book until the end of a particular puzzle. These puzzles aren’t particularly difficult, but since the game is so story driven, this isn’t a bad thing.
Lost Words is a visually stunning game. When you’re hopping along the words of Izzy’s journal, everything is swirling with pops of watercolor. When you’re put into her fantasy world, the scenery is like something out of an illustrated novel. Everything is detailed and gorgeous, and it’s just incredibly nice to look at. These colorful graphics enhance the story perfectly, as well. They really capture Izzy’s wonder and the emotions she feels as she continues her journey.
In terms of gameplay, Lost Words: Beyond the Page doesn’t pose that big a challenge, but I don’t think that was ever its intention. The puzzles are there to help bolster the story, which is the reason to play. The game has an incredible, heartfelt narrative that almost anyone can relate to, and it’s told well. It’s also a great looking experience that will have you staring in wonder at everything on the screen. It may not be a rough and tumble platformer, but, like a good book, an adventure worth diving into.