I didn’t expect a game about fairy stories to make me cry.
But that’s exactly where I found myself with Lost Words: Beyond the Page. First released on Stadia in April 2020, it’s now available on PS4, Xbox One, Switch and PC. It tells the story of Izzy, a young girl coming to terms with the loss of a loved one through journaling and storytelling. Told in a beautifully visual way, your time with the game will be split between exploring Izzy’s diary and playing through the fantastical story she’s created.
Though it’s a game of two halves, both Izzy’s storytelling and her journal overlap in many ways. Her journal details real-life events, centring around her grandmother, whom she’s clearly very close to. But from talking about fun days out at the beach, the tone of her words quickly changes as her grandmother becomes ill.
It’s a huge shock to Izzy, and she deals with her upset by reflecting it in her fantasy story. There, you’ll play a girl who’s just inherited the power of words from the village elder – her grandmother. With a magic book, she’s able to collect words which can be used to affect the environment around her. Come across a broken elevator? No problem – the word ‘rise’ will set it back moving. And while the world Izzy creates in her story starts out happy and full of joy, it’s not long until tragedy strikes, just as it does in her real life.
It’s Izzy’s journal entries that really tug at your heartstrings, though. If you’ve ever lost a grandparent, or witnessed someone you love suffer a devastating illness, you’ll feel for Izzy on a deep level. Her expression of grief and sadness is one that most of us will be able to relate to, and being laid out in such a youthful, innocent way makes it feel all that more raw.
Yes, it’s Lost Words: Beyond the Page‘s touching story that grabbed me by the heartstrings, but there’s much more to the game than being an emotion simulator. Its story is written by Rhianna Pratchett for one, which makes it no surprise that its narrative is so powerful. And with artwork so beautiful you want to stop and stare at every screen, it’s a pleasure to play through. Izzy’s journal pages are a true highlight, with words and images dancing around the page in a creative and unusual way. You’ll use her sentences as platforms to walk across, interacting with certain words and images to move around the page.
If you missed out on Lost Words on Stadia, now is the time to jump in. You can read my full review from last year by clicking here, but I’ll leave you with my closing paragraph:
“Perhaps I was just extra-emotional while playing, but few games have had the impact on me that Lost Words: Beyond The Page has. It’s one that will stay with me for some time. Not only is it beautifully designed in terms of both audio and visuals, its very human story will touch your soul. And if you’re still lucky enough to have grandparents with you, it’ll remind you never to take them for granted again. Really, pick up the phone and tell your grandma what she means to you.”