Lost Words: Beyond the Page is an adventure platformer game. You play as… well… kind of a girl named Isabelle ”Izzy” and another girl you name. The whole game takes place in Izzy’s new Diary. She narrates the game, but she’s also just a kid. She ends up dealing with her desires and wishes, her grandmother’s love, and her grandmother falling into bad health. Her diary ends up split between two different existences because of this. The first is just Izzy talking about her days and feelings, and the other is a story she’s trying to write for various reasons.
Now as stated earlier, there’s two different settings for this game, both in the diary. I’m going to talk about the first one, the actual diary itself, which takes up a little more than half the game I believe. In the diary sections you play as an adorable little drawn version of Izzy, you jump around climbing up sentences to get to tears in the page to flip the page basically. Some words are colorful and you have to step on them in order to continue the story on the pages you’re on, otherwise the tear doesn’t show up. There’s also asterisks that you can jump into which add tiny bits of information into the diary to flesh out the story that Izzy is telling on those pages, which are usually entire days. Some of the other mechanics are that sometimes you can also pick up words in order to move them around to use them as platforms so you can get higher up, occasionally there are other items you can interact with that can change the pages as well, though they’re not quite as common and how they work is always somewhat different.
The other part of the game is the story that Izzy is writing. In it you play as another young girl in the land of Estoria, I say just another young girl instead of a name because you get to choose her name to a degree, the game providing you numerous times throughout the game with three choices, the first few are the girls name, what she’s known for, and what color her clothes she wears. Later one you get to choose other stuff too including things the character thinks or says. Most of the game isn’t choosing stuff, but when you get to choose things it adds some personalization to the game, which was really interesting and nice. In this world though the girl is the new Guardian of the village which gives her a book of power. With the book she obtains words that she can use to change the world, to a degree, around her. For example she gets the word rise at the start, with that she can make certain things in the game to lift up, including platforms. Later on she obtains more words, some of them are only kept for parts of levels, but there are a number that stick around for a long time after you obtain it. The words are used fairly regularly after you obtain them which is cool. As for what’s going on in the story a dragon attacks the village and it’s up to the new Guardian to do whatever needs to be done, which is also a set of three choices, but I assume they all go to trying to stop the dragon. In this world though you’re not playing in the diary anymore, you’re in a side scrolling world instead, which changes as you go through the chapters since each one is effectively in a new place.
The game is, at least for me, very emotional. Again it deals with a sickly grandmother and that’s subject matter that hits really hard for me as I’m a grandma’s girl. I’m closer to her than anyone else in my family, and it’s the same for Izzy, and I figure many of you are also fairly close to your grans, after all grans are great. The game becomes fairly bittersweet to me and made me cry a lot, not just because of the grans sickly-ness, but your Guardian in the Estoria also deals with Izzy’s emotions. Instead of Izzy feeling useless because she isn’t able to help her gran get better which causes a downward spiral for her, the Guardian deals with feeling a failure and goes into a downward spiral. So in the end the book both shows Izzy’s feelings and gets twisted to a degree because of them, but also at the same time eventually starts to help Izzy deal with her emotions and get closer to normalcy again. So both Izzy’s life and the Guardian’s life have some seriously bittersweet and painful moments, and it’s just sometimes so fucking sad. Izzy has to deal with everything on her own, and seemingly does, whereas the Guardian ends up getting some help in the form of three other characters that show up at different parts of the game, Grumpyface, Lump (the cutest fucking thing in this game), and the whale which is actually the whale from the cover of the diary.
I really liked the game, it made me ugly cry really bad though, it tore me up something fierce. I had to split this short game over like four or five days with the last three being split specifically because my eyes hurt too much to continue it thanks to all the crying I was doing. It’s such a good game. Lump you obtain as a partner for the Guardian for a while and she’s just the cutest little fire fluff ball ever and I really want a plushie of her, and devs if you see this and think hey that’s a good idea, you can pay me with a plushie of Lump, and if you make multiple sizes, one of each. She’s just the cutest and I love her, and also… devs… how fucking dare you. They’ll know what that means, you guys can figure it out yourself by playing but the devs… they know, trust me, they know. Anyways, the story was really well written and heart felt, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was actually the writer’s old diary that they modified some of the journal to make things flow better and then turned it into a video game; it just feels so real and in some cases extremely raw as well.
Overall, the gameplay is simple, it’s really just jumping up stuff and sometimes so fairly basic puzzle solving. So it’s not a lot in the way of gameplay. It’s also not super long, maybe five to six hours long on your first playthrough. However, the story is so fantastic between how well written it is, and how heartfelt it is, I can’t recommend it enough, this is going to be put there with some of my favorite games for a long, long time.
A review copy of the game was provided by the publisher Modus Games.
darkmikasonfire awards Lost Words: Beyond the Page the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.