Lost Words: Beyond the Page - Hands-on at E3 2019

Ned Jordan
In Short
A game in which words literally have power.
One of the more unique games that I had the opportunity to play at E3 2019 was Lost Words: Beyond the Page. The game’s story was written by Rhianna Pratchett, who wrote the story for a recent trilogy of games you might have heard of, Tomb Raider. It’s a story about a girl named Izzy who is writing a journal while she’s writing a story. While she’s writing in her journal, the gameplay takes place on its pages. The game is a puzzle platformer, and as the words are written by Izzy they form the platforms along which she walks and jumps. By moving words on the page and interacting with Izzy’s sketches, you can make your way to the small tear on the right-hand page that acts as the exit and leads you to the next page. The game leaves you to figure all of this out on your own, and it’s a testament to the game’s design at how intuitive it is to play. The clever way in which you interact with words and the meaning behind them make the game an intriguing and unique experience.

Izzy’s journal

Not all of the game takes place on the pages of Izzy’s journal, though. As she begins to write her story, you are transported into the story itself by taking on the role of its protagonist, who is not surprisingly a young girl remarkably like Izzy. The story takes place in a colorful, side-scrolling world in which the gameplay also takes the form of a puzzle-platformer. In this case you’re making your way through a physical world, but words still play a powerful role. You are given a book of magic in which you can save words of power, and then you can use those words by dragging them from the book onto an object. During the demo I obtained the word “rise” which I was shortly thereafter able to use while standing on a rock and facing a cliff that was too high to jump over. Dragging the word “rise” onto the rock caused it to rise and I was easily able to hop up to the ground above the cliff.

Izzy’s story

Once of the things that I found interesting about the time spent in the story world was that the girl and the other character that I encountered were both voiced by the same actress who provided the voice for Izzy. I asked one of the game’s developers if all of the voices in the story would be provided by the same actress, and he responded that that was currently an unresolved decision that the team was mulling over. I hope that they do use the same actress for all of the characters in the final release, because it made me feel like I was with Izzy as she was crafting the story and creating the characters in her mind, which really provided me with a connection to her character that ran deeper than anything I usually feel for stars of puzzle-platfomers.

The demo came to a close shortly after returning to the pages of Izzy’s journal. Events in her life began to take a tragic turn that would set the course for the rest of the game. The game’s designer told me that the game’s central theme would be about how people deal with tragedy and loss, and that the journey Izzy would be embarking on in her life would impact her story and the fantasy world she created. I think it will be fascinating not only to see how Izzy is able to recover from her tragedy, but also how the events in a writer’s life affect what eventually ends up on the page. Lost Words is one of the games that I was still thinking about after E3 and I spent less than a half hour with it. It’s one of the games that I am really looking forward to playing when it is released later this year.

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Transmitted: 1/26/2021 8:23:55 AM