Liz, a member of Film London's Equal Access Network, previewed the game Lost Words: Beyond the Page as part of the London Games Festival 2021. Here they share their thoughts.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page from Sketchbook Games is a side-scroller that takes you to two very different worlds.
Izzy is a young girl who introduces you to her world by way of her journal. She narrates as you run along the top of her writing and move it around to get to inaccessible places. You meet her family: Mum, dad, little brother (‘he who chews curtains’) and, most importantly, Izzy’s grandmother.
It’s quite a long, slow introduction to the game, but that means you come to care – or at least I did – about Izzy and her wonderful relationship with her retired-scientist grandmother. I had, perhaps, hoped for a little more in terms of playing with words and having word puzzles to solve.
Just as I began too weary of the journal, the game changed. Izzy wants to be a writer, so now you follow her as she starts to write her first book. You can help her by choosing a name and personality for the main character, but you can’t change the genre or plot.
That done, you drop into the world of Izzy’s story. The graphics are in a completely different style, but this is still a side-scroller, with the sort of movement, interaction and puzzle-solving you’d expect.
But then it is interrupted to tell you of a disaster at home. I won’t say more about that, but it was clear to me that Izzy’s two worlds were going to interact – the fantasy world of the book helping her to cope with the emotional devastation of what’s happening in her real life.
The graphics are gorgeous, particularly in the journal section, where they are cute without being twee. Rhianna Pratchett does a predictably bang-up job with the script. Only Izzy’s voice took me a little while to adjust to.
I enjoyed Lost Words enormously, but I do have some reservations, particularly if the game plays out as I think it will. The puzzles may be just a bit too simple to hold an adult’s attention for long, while the emotional content could prove too harrowing for a child. And yet I can’t wait to finish my play-through and discover whether I’m right.