In memoriam, Donald Sutherland

Lost Words: Beyond the Page

Moby ID: 144061
Stadia Specs
Buy on Windows
$14.99 new on Steam

Description official descriptions

Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a coming-of-age story of the young girl Isabelle Barbara Cooke who has to deal with her grandmother growing old and sick. The game consists of eight chapters that each have two parts with very different gameplay.

A chapter always starts in Izzy's journal where she writes down the events surrounding her grandmother. This is a playable 2D section that takes places on single-screen pages. As she narrates what she writes down, the words appear on the page. Izzy is also represented through a young figure shown from a side view that can be controlled directly. She is able to move around, stand on words, fall down the page to appear from the top again and the cursor is used to interact. More than a mere journal it is also a sketchbook where watercolour images appear based on the story. These sections largely play out as a visual novel where you follow along the story as it is narrated, but there are many interactive elements.

For starters, a door needs to be reached to finish the page and move on to the next one. This requires some basic platforming to get around. Certain words can be moved using the cursor to act as temporary platforms. The way the words are displayed is also often tied to the content, with different colours or rising and falling. Some small puzzle elements come into play through re-assembling images, fitting words in sentences by dragging them or using words in a literal way, e.g. the word "cut" can be used to cut grass leaves, revealing something underneath. On a single page new sentences are started by standing on top of differently coloured words, acting like a type of mini checkpoint. Sometimes small choices can be made, usually about Izzy's state of mind.

At the end of the journal a very different part is started, which is the fantasy story Isabella is writing. Tied thematically to the journal sections, this part is played as a 2.5D side-scrolling puzzle platformer set in a fantasy world called Estoria. Here also some choices can be made e.g. the name of the protagonist, her necklace, but also choices that influence the character's feelings or the locations she visits. In the fantasy village a strange event occurs and all fireflies are stolen. The village elder Ava sends the young girl out into the world to bring them back. Each location in the eight chapters has a different theme. Fireflies can be collected as optional collectibles that serve a purpose at the end of the game, but the main goal is merely reaching the end of the level.

She meets many characters on the way. Next to basic platforming the puzzle solving is done using her spellbook. The book contains words such as "burn", "rise", "ignore", "break" etc. to interact with the environment. E.g. "break" is used to get past a barrier, "rise" moves a platform upwards and so on. Words are selected using the cursor, which is also an in-game character, as a firefly that accompanies the young girl. Words are unlocked gradually and some are fleeting, meaning they an only be used during certain sections and then disappear again. The character can die, but the game has generous checkpoints and there is no health or lives system. When an Estoria section is finished a new chapter is started in the sketchbook.

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Credits (Windows version)

469 People (263 developers, 206 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 78% (based on 13 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.0 out of 5 (based on 5 ratings with 1 reviews)

Deep Reading and Gameplay

The Good
The platforming is pretty unique with both 2.5D levels and 2D journal pages. Amazingly the translated versions do a good job of being faithful to the English language version, makes me curious if the mechanics are more or less the same in the Japanese version. Trial and error in the world of Estoria allows you to solve puzzles and try to collect all the fireflies, which make up all the fun you could want.

The art is lovely all over - watercolor drawings and 3D-rendered environment. To match the graphical style, there are many mood swings in the game, so that you can almost feel happy or sympathetic for Isabelle, it's almost like listening and watching the life story of a real person plus looking inside her imagination. The choice of mythological creatures for the land of Estoria is positively tasteful, be it a grouchy djinn, a troubled fiery efreet or apocalyptic dragon. It might surprise players to see that one journal section alludes the intro style of a Star Wars movie. Even the music captures the feeling of both emotion and watching / playing a movie.

The Bad
The gameplay is mostly just a straight up platformer. Apart from using the magic book, there isn't a whole lot you can interact with such as the NPC's or much of the environment, but that's probably asking too much for an already great game. What the game could have used is the ability to type your own name for the story character and customise her appearance to your liking, since the three limited names and colour schemes are only cosmetic differences, not doing much to add replay value.

The Bottom Line
This is a game that really dares to be ever so uniquely different from both platformers and fantasy-oriented games. You can really get hooked on playing this game as the story gets darker and more tragic both from Isabelle's end and her story character's end. It's almost like playing a fantasy version of Inside / Limbo with reduced difficulty and minus the horror genre. It would be intriguing if this game did stimulate a player's imagination to write a story and perhaps teach foreign languages to players getting versions that aren't in their native languages. A commendable game that will shine its magic on any players lucky enough to play it.

Windows · by Kayburt (33353) · 2021

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Xbox Series, Xbox One, Windows, Nintendo Switch added by Rik Hideto. Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation 4, Windows Apps added by Kam1Kaz3NL77.

Game added April 7, 2020. Last modified May 8, 2024.