Developer: Sketchbook Games
Release Date: April 6, 2021
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is yet another game I didn’t expect to get terribly invested in that I turned out to like quite a bit. I tried it out since it was available on GamePass, and since I tend to prefer puzzle platformers as they tend to be the most forgiving types of platforming games. I haven’t come close to completing the game yet; achievements indicate there are eight chapters, and I’ve only played through three of those.
The game alternates between main character Isabel’s journal, which is mostly exposition, with very light & simple puzzles and platforming, and the world of the story that Isabelle is writing. In the first journal section, you’re given some options to choose from to customize your character in the story sections, which are the meat of the game. My choices led to me playing as Robyn, who loves learning, but I’m not sure how much those choices effect the game as a whole – I’m guessing not that much.
Robyn works closely with Elder Ava, guardian of the fireflies, to protect their village. On her birthday, she comes into her power, the ability to use certain words in her journal to manipulate her environment. While there’s not a typical tutorial, the early chapters introduce new words (and concepts) gradually, and only at a couple of points did I really have to think about what the game was looking for me to do to proceed.
I am predisposed to prefer my games on the easy side anyway, and this is no exception. The world is beautiful, the sound design is excellent, and the story quickly ramps up the stakes for our heroine. Sure, it sometimes feels like a story written by a child, but that’s the point after all. The main game is the story of a child, a child who loves her grandmother very much and wants to make her proud, as Robyn wants to make Elder Ava proud.
So what it lacks in challenge, it makes up for in charm, and I found myself equally excited to find out what happens next, both for Robyn and for Isabelle. The pacing of both stories felt good, although there are (optional) collectibles in the fantasy world that may make the game feel a little bit slow if you’re trying for the achievement for gathering them all.
For a freshman effort from this developer, Lost Words: Beyond the Page is remarkably well put-together, and I look forward to seeing what they do next.
SteamDB estimates that Lost Words: Beyond the Page has sold somewhere between 5,600 and 15,300 copies on Steam. Reviews have been very positive, with only a handful of people not recommending the game. It is ranked 309 out of 10,967 games released in 2021, putting it firmly in the top 5%.