Indie games continue to deliver this summer at The Fandomentals. This time not with a demo, but a full game. If you love Gravity Falls and mind bending point & click adventure games, then Lost in Play is the game for you.
Coming to us from Happy Juice Games and published by Joystick Ventures, Lost in Play is the story of brother and sister Toto and Gal. After a day of getting lost in their imaginations, the duo have no idea how to get home and so must go on a quest to find their way back. Along the way they’ll meet and befriend a wide variety of charming, bizarre, and playful creatures who’ll help or hinder their journey as the case may be. You’ll play minigames, feed a giant fish to get your brother back, build an Ikea (parody) dragon, and do many more strange and unusual things along the way!
First off, let’s talk about how Lost in Play looks. In short, it’s amazing. The developers stated that they wanted to make a game that looked and felt like playing a cartoon and damn if they didn’t absolutely nail that.
Not only does it look wonderful, but everything moves so fluidly. There are many, many AAA Games that don’t look half as good as Lost in Play does. The style of cartoon they’re harkening back to might be different, but the dedication and artistry reminds me strongly of Cuphead.
While not as stand-out as the visuals, the sound design of Lost in Play is solid as well. The music is nice. Not amazing, but it does its job well. The sound effects all hit the marks, and the characters communicate in a charming mishmash of sounds reminiscent of The Sims or Banjo-Kazooie.
It gets the point across and does so in a way that’s never annoying. Sometimes these sorts of sounds can get grating (looking at you Yooka-Laylee) but here it never does. Moreover, it fits the setting quite well.
Charlie Chaplin was famously resistant to the advent of ‘talkies’, fearing that it would make his character The Tramp less universal. So when the pressure got to the point where the Tramp had to speak, we got…gibberish.
Similarly, Lost in Play is translated into an astounding 30 languages because, well…you don’t need to know a language to play. I could have set my game to Italian, Hebrew, or Vietnamese and had as much ease playing it as I did playing it in English. And honestly, while the charming nature of the rest of the game leaves me in no doubt that if they wanted to, Happy Juice Games could have gotten some great dialogue in here, at no point did I feel it was lacking due to there not being any. The animations and tone carry the message well.
Normally the plot is, for me, the lynchpin of a good adventure game. Normally…but not always.
Lost in Play does have a plot, but in the way that Alice in Wonderland technically has a plot. There is a goal the siblings are heading for: they need to get home before the moon goes away. However, that’s not the focus. It’s a vehicle to move from one zany set piece to the next, a way to get the siblings to new settings and new sets of characters that they’ll (usually) briefly interact with before moving on.
This isn’t a bad thing, but it may impact your enjoyment of the game. I personally had no trouble accepting and working in this framework, but I can easily understand how somebody else might not. So if you’re thinking this might be for you, walk in knowing that you’re more going into a game full of lovely but disparate moments rather than a grand, overarching story.
Roughly eighty-five percent of the time, Lost in Play is your standard, basic point & click adventure game. Inventory object puzzles and some basic logic puzzles abound.
Frequently, however, the game will shift gears and go for something altogether different in the form of minigames. Sometimes these’ll just be a round of a puzzling board game, other times it’ll be a long chain of sliding object or matching item puzzles. Those are just some examples of course, the minigames are as varied as the settings in Lost in Play.
Ultimately, Lost in Play does little to nothing to innovate in terms of gameplay. If you’ve ever played a great point & click, be it Sierra, LucasArts, or Humongous, you’ll have a firm grasp on the gameplay and mechanics of the game pretty much from the jump. There’s been some streamlining, allowing the game to be very easily played with a controller as well as with a mouse, but all in all this is a game that sticks to its tried and tested gameplay formula with flourish.
Play it. Get Lost in Play and play it. It’s on Steam, it’s on GoG, it’s on the Switch, get it. If you like point & click adventure games, play it. If you like the Western cartoons of the 2010s, play it. If you like Alice in Wonderland, particularly the Disney version, play it.
Lost in Play is a charming, feel good story about two siblings making their way home and exploring the depths and power of imagination. The gameplay may not be groundbreaking, the plot may be simple, but it is beautifully animated, charming to the nth degree, and all in all a fantastic time. I am delighted to have played it, grateful to have gotten a review copy, and all in all I cannot praise this game enough.
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Images and review copy courtesy of Happy Juice Games
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