Lost Words: Beyond the Page
Developer: Sketchbook Games
Publisher: Modus Games
Genre: Adventure, Platform, Action
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 06/04/2021
A code was provided for review purposes.
As a writer, I love it when a game has a solid story. This can be over multiple titles, and it could be through narrative alone or expanded upon by collecting notes or other items that tell the overarching tale. Either way, I appreciate a good story.
Therefore, when the chance came to review Lost Words: Beyond the Page I was all too happy to dive right in.
The premise intrigued me, and the fact it was written by Rhianne Pratchett and made by a development studio local to me only added to my interest.
How was this journey beyond the page? Did it captivate my attention or have me turning to the last page just to see the ending? Keep reading this Rapid Review to find out.
Two Games and Two Stories in One
This game instantly caught my attention by how it manages to tell two totally separate stories and delivers two different methods of gameplay in one. They are cleverly woven around one another but by their very nature are different games.
One is a classic platformer. You solve puzzles and traverse various beautifully crafted landscapes. The premise is a fantasy story, written by the protagonist of the other element to the game. Izzy.
Izzy is a writer or wants to be. The core story of the game is told through Izzy’s diary; A gift from her grandmother. You control a miniature Izzy who must walk along her diary’s sentences, interact with words to construct platforms, complete sentences and uncover images that allow you to keep progressing through the pages.
I absolutely loved this aspect of the game. It was a creative way to play a game, but moreover, it was such a clever way to tell a story. Giving you the ability to control certain word usage and build your own sentences was also an excellent way to increase player involvement the story. Even if it is linear in terms of what that eventuality turns out to be.
Imaginative and Creative Gameplay Draws You into the World
There are no real instructions given to you as a player, however, the game’s controls come naturally. There are hints are given in the words you control, both in the diary story or in its companion narrative inside the book Izzy is writing.
The story that Izzy is writing is full of emotion and links back to what is happening in her own personal life. While this is where the core elements of gameplay are, it is very much the secondary element to the overall narrative.
The world in which Izzy lives and talks about in her diary is vivid and realistic in every way. At the same time, the fantasy world she creates in her book is vibrant and imaginative and will take you on a journey that is both satisfying and fitting.
An Emotional Rollercoaster Handled with Great Care
Without giving too much away, Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a heart-wrenching tale of grief and loss. It is expertly written and Izzy’s emotions flow onto the page with a delicate grace, however, they also pack a punch that will have you welling up as you think of your own life and the losses you have felt along the way.
Everything Izzy goes through feels real and is very relatable. The way her emotions are built into gameplay elements is very clever and keeps the game moving forward. Having to swap negative words for positives to change the tone of her diary entry is simple but so very effective.
It’s the Story that is Paramount in Lost Words
What I found most enjoyable about this title was the way that the story was the key element. Yes, you had puzzles, but they were all relatively straightforward. Yes, there are boss battles, but again, they have not been designed to stop you. Rather, serve a storytelling purpose, driving the narrative.
This is further demonstrated in the way words are your only weapons. Using them to perform the action they describe. Break, Ignore, Rise, etc. These all have a place in the story and help you move through the different stages.
The narrative has you hooked until the very end. Furthermore, the final moments of the diary offer a true and realistic resolution. The ending to the fantasy storyline isn’t as satisfying. There is no real defining moment of triumph, rather a life lesson that has a harsh level of realism behind it. Fitting for the story, however, disappointing for those that like to see good stand tall, pristine and unscathed.
A Great Achievement
I thoroughly enjoyed my time playing Lost Words: Beyond the Page. In fact, my only real gripe about it is that I did not get to play it all through in a single sitting. It’s a relatively short game at about 4 hours and playing it in a single session would only sharpen the message and impact of the story.
Definitely a game that deserves a physical copy one of these days, and I would love to see what a company like Limited Run or Super Rare could do with it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4.5 out of 5
You can get your copy of Lost Words: Beyond the Page from the Nintendo eShop now.
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.