We exist in a sea of Triple-A, 100-hour-long, epic video game titles being released monthly. We also have never-ending rogue-likes, competitive card games and online battle royale style shooters vying for our gaming time. In light of these attention-hogging titles, it is refreshing to dive into a game that is short but leaves an impact. A game like Lost Words: Beyond The Page would fit the bill.
This game may sound familiar to long-time fans of Indie Ranger, given that we have covered its debut back in 2019. After the excitement of E3 was winding down, I found myself browsing the various digital storefronts for sales. Luckily, Nintendo was having a sale. I noticed that Lost Words was a game published by Modus Games. I have had my eye on that publisher since covering Cris Tales.
So, I decided to splurge and pick up the game at a discount. After having played through Lost Words: Beyond The Page, I would have happily paid full price for such a great experience.
We covered the basic points in our previous article about the game, but here’s a quick refresher: You play as Izzy — a young girl who has just been gifted a journal. In the journal, you complete platforming along the words that are written down. Sometimes, you can select keywords, or “Magic Words”, to add color or interact with the journal in a new way. This journal also serves as a jumping-off point for Izzy to start writing a fictional story. Izzy’s life events that are denoted in the journal are reflected in what the protagonist in the story is facing.
There is a beautiful symmetry in the events being described in the journal and the story Izzy is writing. The parallel storytelling narrative was very well executed. For example, when Izzy feels most lost about her situation, the character in the story also gets lost. The themes of grief and loss are prevalent in the whole game. But somehow, Lost Words is filled with vibrancy and life in each of its short chapters.
The concept of “Magic Words” continues in the story. You can interact with the environment by using spells by choosing words from a book like “rise” and “break”. While the idea of these “Magic Words” are not groundbreaking in game design, it is very interesting to leverage the power of words. It was fun to see how the same word could be interpreted in different scenarios to subvert challenges presented to the player.
Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges in the game is the control scheme. To control the “Magic words”, you must hover a blue cursor to the word (or the place you would like to use the word) and select with trigger buttons. I found myself thinking about halfway through the game that motion controls would have probably been a more intuitive way to design that element. I also did not notice rumble, even in sections where rocks are breaking or sliding down a hill. Haptic feedback and motion control would have been welcome additions to enhance the experience.
Given that these small tweaks were the most cumbersome part of the experience, you have probably already guessed that this is a very easy and very short game. I clocked in around 5 hours to finish the game. Luckily, there is replayability here, since there are decisions you make throughout the game that change dialog and character customization once locked in. You can easily return to play what you might have missed before with a chapter select option upon finishing the credits. There is also a collectible that can be hard to find in certain levels, so you can double back to find all of them.
I played Lost Words on the Nintendo Switch. I did face some obvious stuttering and other mildly annoying performance issues. It’s hard to say if that’s an optimization problem on the Nintendo Switch, or if it’s something you are likely to find in all versions of the game. This game was released a while ago and it is available on multiple platforms. If you want a smooth experience, I would not recommend the Switch version.
Beyond the small performance issues and slightly awkward control scheme, this is a near-perfect game. The sound design is perfect — it has real instrumentation that is subtle when needed but it can also be swelling during the epic sections. The art style and overall graphic presentation are second to none. The hand-drawn art is full of life and vibrant. Although the story largely focuses on loss and grief, it is a story I won’t soon forget. I cried like a baby during my playthrough, and I suppose most people would get emotional around the topics that are covered.
Overall, Lost Words: Beyond The Page was a short, but captivating experience. Its controls could be improved, but the story and presentation allowed me to escape the FPS grind for a few hours. If you are looking for a cozy game with a lovely story, you need not look elsewhere. But have some tissues handy when you boot up the game. Trust me — you’ll need them.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a puzzle platforming game where you use words to interact with the environment. It excels in sound design, story and art direction.
- Excellent Sound Design
- Memorable and captivating story
- Beautiful Art Style
- Lack-luster control scheme
- Poor Performance