I don’t know what it is like today, but until a few years ago a popular hobby of little school-age girls was writing diaries. If I had a look at elementary school, I would probably remember a few people who wrote down their lives, starting with the iconic words dear diary. Even though I haven’t done it myself, I understand the idea, even though it seems funny at times. But what does this have to do with the game under review? Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a game about writing a diary.
Anyone remember Google Stadia? Apparently, the project is still alive, but the great ambitions of the corporate behemoth’s streaming service have backfired. Last year, several turkey exclusive games were released on Stadia to encourage players to use the platform. One of them was Lost Words, which gathered quite good opinions, although of course it did not gain much popularity. Now, after a year, the game could finally be released on normal platforms. So it’s time to check what it is like with this would-be streaming ex.
As already mentioned, Lost Words is a diary-writing game. We will play the role of a girl who dreams of becoming a writer in adulthood and to fulfill these desires, she is now transferring her everyday life to the pages of her notebook. It is not only a fictional procedure, but also a theme related to the visual style of the title. Its action is constantly intertwined between the fictional world created by the protagonist and her everyday life. Therefore, in this world of fairy tales, we always see some inserts from the diary and references to experiences from reality.
Although initially the game takes on very light tones, with time the heroine’s life becomes very complicated. The girl happens to the wall when one of her loved ones goes to the hospital. The current bliss is turned upside down and the protagonist has to face a choice whether to face her problems and grow up, or to escape into the world of fantasy … It is a very grateful idea for a plot. Maybe you won’t crush you into the armchair, but it will provide a nice down-to-earth story about a girl who transfers her problems from the real world to a fairy tale created in her notebook.
And for this reason, I would probably recommend Lost Words to everyone, if not for one important detail. Where is the game here? When I approached the production from Sketchbook Games studio, I expected to get a typical platformer. I didn’t have any exorbitant and specific requirements, because platformers can provide both logical and arcade challenges, but nevertheless, I thought I would get something of the two.
Meanwhile, Beyond the Page is more of a walking simulator, but realized in a side throw. Interacting with the game here is to hold the analog so that the character moves forward.The trend is as old as the world, because I hated Dreamfall: The Longest Journey from 2006 for the same. Just like in Dreamfall, which, paradoxically, many people liked it, here you hold the key to complete the game.
The only substitute for the challenge are very simple escape sections that do not require too much jumping skill and magic, which was presented as choosing the right words from the heroine’s notebook. For example, we see an obstacle, look for the word rise, and use it to pick it up. This is one of those elements of the intertwining of fiction and reality. It would be a really interesting fun idea if it weren’t for the fact that it is very limited. It’s not like we can destroy an obstacle, pick it up, set it on fire, reduce it, and so on. The spell only works on a specific type of obstacle and this system comes down to choosing the right words at the right moment.
It would ask for elements of emergent gameplay and combining with words to move on. After all, fun with the possibilities of creating fiction. The creators are unable to take advantage of this. The kind of logical challenges here come down to choosing words and clicking them in the right place. There are no verbal combos or speed dials when jumping … You know, something you’d expect from a platformer genre. As a result, playing Lost Words is exactly that holding an analog and entering the notebook every now and then.
While playing it felt like the longest five-hour game I have ever dealt with. I just couldn’t bring myself to play in longer sessions, because the game immediately put me to sleep. Nothing is happening here as far as my involvement is concerned. And while the plot may be enjoyable, the lack of advanced interaction makes the gameplay boring. I believe that production can reach a specific target group. It will rather appeal to people who play five games of cross and do not have a reference to genre conventions. It is not an insult that it would not be.
I regret it a bit, because before the premiere Lost Words had everything to be something more. Nice graphics, an ingenious story with the use of untangling a journal for narration … The problem is that there is not much in it. There is no platforming or logical challenge here. And as I said literally a moment ago, someone may like this form, but unfortunately I know games that, apart from providing an emotional story, can have some interesting gameplay. Because compared to the two Ori games, Lost Words is very pale. Nevertheless, it’s a good thing that the game has moved beyond Stadia ..