I think we all forget how powerful words can be, don’t we? That a simple phrase can alter our emotions completely whether it be happy, sad, angry or confused. That’s the premise of Lost Words: Beyond the Page. Words are powerful.
A story crafted by the one and only Rhianna Pratchet, it’s only fitting that this one is centred around a journal. Lost Words: Beyond the Page follows the diary scribings of Izzy, a young girl on a quest to create her own fantasy adventure. This is Izzy’s first journal — a gift given to her by her Gran — and it becomes a place for her to write down her feelings as well as fabricate her story.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page belongs to many genres — Platformer, Adventure, Visual Novel, Walking Simulator — but most of all, it is an experience. Each chapter begins with a journal segment, requiring you to literally run through the pages, learning more and more about Izzy and her life as you go. Jumping from word to word you will quickly get a feel for how she speaks and thinks, occasionally moving 2D objects to allow you to trigger the next page. The end of these segments usually require you to make a choice of some kind, and then it’s off to your fantasy adventure.
The game will offer you a choice of three names for your story’s character and a choice of colours for her as well as various other choices throughout, helping to make it feel more like it’s your story. Playing through the chapters of your novel is wonderful. You enter the world of Estoria, plagued by an evil dragon. The Elder of the town, Ava, passes on the ability of the fireflies to our protagonist (whom I named Robyn) allowing her to use the power of words. Literally. Now Robyn must travel across the world of Estoria to defeat the dragon and save the townspeople, once and for all.
During your trek through all parts of Estoria, you will be required to complete various puzzles in order to progress. Your spellbook will be the key to these, allowing you to perform certain commands such as ‘rise’ or ‘break’. Although most of the puzzles you encounter are simple, requiring little to no thought to complete, they don’t distract from the experience. Along your adventure, you will unlock new spells that are vital to completing your quest.
You will also notice you are accompanied by a little friend on your journey, which is one of the fireflies. Your firefly Guardian. You will be able to control it with the right analogue stick and it will be used to determine where your magic words take effect, high or low. You will also encounter more of these fireflies in the form of collectables in each chapter; the majority of them are in plain sight with just a few that can be missed.
The beauty in Lost Words: Beyond the Page is how the two stories interlock with one another, when Izzy’s life starts to crumble, so does Robyn’s and vice versa and there’s a monster in both stories — only one of them is real. I think it’s beautiful that the game plays out almost the opposite of how it should; the fantasy world is where you play and the real world is inside a journal. Blurring real life with reality. There’s something rather poetic about that.
The thing you will notice most about Lost Words: Beyond the Page is just how gorgeous it looks. From the masterfully illustrated watercolour pages of Izzy’s journal to the vibrant world of Estoria — it’s breathtaking. The way the words being spoken appear on-screen as you run past them is pure magic. I’m going to say it, I think this is the best looking game I’ve played on the Nintendo Switch yet and I think it will be a good while before anything surpasses that. It’s clear to see that this game has been meticulously crafted.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page has a beautiful narrative, whether that be Izzy’s or that of the protagonist — and might I add that Izzy is the perfect narrator for both these stories. It’s emotional, heart-warming and powerful — the perfect combination. Its voice acting is perfectly done too, conveying the emotions at any given time perfectly.
The same can be said about the game’s soundtrack, an enchanting score made by the Nashville Scoring Orchestra. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything that hit quite like it. Enlightening, powerful and impassioned, the perfect accompaniment for such an adventure.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page performs well on the Nintendo Switch, although I did notice some slight framerate drops but this was mostly in docked mode. Again, this was nothing that distracted me from seeing how amazing this game is and the beauty in it. Whilst playing in handheld mode, I noticed no issues whatsoever.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a fantastic example of how a narrative experience should be delivered. Pratchett has created a relatable and emotional story with likeable characters and stunning artwork that leave the player feeling like words really are magic. I was left with tears streaming down my face on more than one occasion and that speaks to me on so many levels.
Lost Words: Beyond the Page £11.99
Lost Words: Beyond the Page is a phenomenal experience, one that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon. The gameplay is simple but the narrative more than makes up for that. An incredibly relatable story that really had me lost for words.