Sunday, March 6, 2022

Who Needs Words?

Another day, another demo. This time it's Lost in Play, which turns out to be a very well-chosen name. 

I was a little apprehensive about this one. I downloaded it before I read the small print so it wan't until I came to write the first Next Fest post that I realised the game has no dialog. Instead, "Everything is communicated visually in a universal way."

I've played games like that before and it hasn't always been a happy experience. Lost in Play is also "filled with mystery, unique puzzles, and mini-games." I'm fine with the mystery but puzzles and mini-games don't always fill me with delight. I did start to wonder if maybe I'd made a mistake.

The screenshots looked great, though, and I liked the sound of playing "an interactive cartoon... inspired by nostalgic TV shows such as Gravity Falls, Hilda, and Over the Garden Wall". I've actually seen on of those! (Hilda, in case you were wondering.). Anyway, I'd committed to playing the thing when I included it in the post, so I was going to have to buckle up and get to it, whether I wanted to or not.

And I'm very happy I did. Lost in Play is one whole heap of fun. 

It's also one of the longer demos in this run. It took me around fifty minutes to finish, all of which was solid play, no filler. That's a lot better than the average demo.

It begins with a really lovely introduction. You play one of the two main characters, the unnamed sister, as she skips through a sunlit meadow, meeting friendly monsters and solving satisfyingly simple puzzles in what turns out to be a dream sequence. 

The girl wakes up in bed and the game proper begins as it means to go on with a series of very well-crafted logic problems. The first is how to wake a lazy brother, followed not long after by how to wake a lazy dog. Clocks and alarms feature heavily in both.

The puzzles seemed just about perfectly tuned for my tastes, not to say my skills, which tells you something since this is a game aimed squarely at families with children. Probably quite small children. Even so, I did get stumped a couple of times. Luckily there's a welcome hint option on screen that gives just the right kind of nudge to get you over the little logic humps without outright telling you what to do.

About half-way through the demo perspective switches from sister to brother and also from reality to fantasy. Instead of playing with family pets and making monster costumes out of cardboard boxes you find yourself bargaining with frogs, playing chequers with goblins and being chased by real monsters with very big teeth.

There is, as promised, no dialog at all but that doesn't mean no-one speaks. They just don't use actual words although they sound enough like actual words that I kept trying to work out what they were saying. It's very effective. The music's good too and you can even change what's playing on the big boom box in the kitchen, which I thought was a very nice touch.

Visually, Lost in Play is gorgeous. It does indeed look almost exactly like a particular kind of animated TV show, which gives the whole thing an instant familiarity. The animations are excellent and often very funny. 

"Lost in Play" describes the fifty minutes I spent with the demo very well. I would happily have stayed lost a while longer. The demo ends with a montage of scenes from the rest of the game, all of which looked like equally good fun, a very smart way to end a thoroughly enjoyable experience by leaving the player wanting more.

I've wishlisted Lost in Play, which is scheduled to release in the summer. I may not be the target audience but really, who isn't "seeking wholesome delight or just a good time"? Even if you don't fancy the whole game, I'd definitely recommend the demo on its own. It's nearly an hour's free, quality entertainment. I've played whole games shorter than that.


  1. Interesting.

    I'll freely admit that seeing the title I expected it to be a musically themed post, using Berlin's No More Words as a potential starting point. But Lost in Play does seem extremely interesting, and something I'll have to keep an eye on going forward. You're killing my budget with all of these games, you know.

    1. The chances of me actually paying money for most of these is relatively small, if only because most of the time I seem to have more free stuff on the go than I can find time for. I only buy things if I'm sure I'll play them pretty much right away. I am starting to see the appeal of building a solid wishlist, though, becuae there have been times in the past when I was really scratching around to find anything new to try. That does seem like a long time ago, though. We seem to be in the middle of a very fecund period in video gaming right now.

      Also, the chances of me using, or even knowing, anything by Berlin for a title are vanishingly small. I know the one big hit that everyone knows and that's it!


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