Sometimes a game comes along that catches you off guard. A game that you don’t expect to be so good, yet captivates you right from the very beginning all the way up until the credits roll.
Lost in Play was one of those games for me. It sucked me in with its charm from its opening moments and hooked me in with its incredible narrative and gameplay. Despite me being picky with point and click adventures, I can say that this game is almost perfect at what it does.
If I’ve already intrigued you, then stop reading and buy the game. Spoiling even one small moment in the game would be a crime; unfortunately, as a review, that is something that I’ll need to for those who want more convincing.
Many thanks to Happy Juice Games for the review code.
TWO LOST SOULS
The story focuses on Toto and Gal, two siblings who, as the name implies, are lost in their imagination. After the younger sister constructs a scary bear costume to scare her brother, their play session sees them drift away from home – and they need to find a way back.
With help from a variety of helpful (and unhelpful) NPCs -including a chubby fairy who always seems to be around, and a granny who commands a flock of pigeons – they find themselves visiting many charming locations on their journey home.
It really is a sweet story over its four hour or so length, and is so well paced so that there are never really any lulls over its brief playtime – yet also feels like a complete story.
PLAYTIME IS OVER
Described as a ‘feel good adventure’ in the game’s description, I’d say that it pretty much nails that perfectly. Presented like a Saturday morning cartoon with beautifully animated hand-drawn visuals and chirpy music, it fits the childlike feeling the game is going for. Our two protagonists, who the game switches between during the various chapters, are both extremely likeable, but also have quite different personalities to one another. Gal is younger and more creative, often creating thing and being a bit of a wild-child; Toto, on the other hand, is more into his videogames and acts more methodically and carefully compared to his sibling.
Despite their differences, both characters play the exact same way. The game is divided into fifteen chapters, with each one providing a relatively small – yet unique – area for you, complete with a handful of puzzles to solve. As a point and click adventure, this is done by picking up stuff and interacting with people and objects. That’s not all there is to the gameplay though, since there are also trickier minigame puzzles scattered around too that also form part of the narrative. There’s quite a variety to these minigames too, and some are trickier than you may initially expect.
It’s a really great mix of gameplay that helps make it stand out from other point and click games in the genre. One such example of this formula is early on when you have to fix an alarm clock to wake your brother. It requires a few different pieces that can be acquired via normal point and click means, such as obtaining a battery under the bed from a toy robot, which first requires you to scare away your aggressive pet cat who is in the way. Upon obtaining all the parts, you then need to do a sliding puzzle to align the cogs into place to get it working. Everything fits together really cohesively and doesn’t feel like two different gameplay styles jammed together.
Despite the variety, every minigame is a lot of fun and can be pretty tough too. The game does offer a hint system that works pretty well, as it never tells you the solution and instead only gives you a brief nudge in the right direction. I had to use it a couple of times, and found that it was enough for me to figure out what to do. The game lacks any dialogue, meaning that everything is explained via pictures and very brief animations; it reminded me of Indiecalypse in that sense, except the instructions here are usually far clearer than in that unfortunately flawed title.
The game had me smiling from ear to ear all the way through, with just how fun it was to explore the world of their imagination. The whole world is varied and has a weird charm to the varied locations that vary from underwater submarine diving to flying through the air on a giant stork. There’s a lot to love here – which really isn’t surprising considering the whole game feels like a passion project.
Lost in Play is one of my gaming highlights of 2022. It’s a beautiful, charming, and cleverly designed point and click puzzle adventure game with puzzles that rarely verge on the side of frustrating. This is going to be an experience I’ll remember for years to come, and I really hope it gets recognised as one of the best indie releases of the year. It deserves it.
The only issue with Lost in Play is that the developers are going to have a hard time topping it with their next release!