Lost in Play Review
Hehe, this will get my brother in the mood to play with me.
Publisher: Joystick Ventures
Ah remember when you could just imagine a whole different world while playing with toys or when playing outside. Letting the time slip away as there was fun to be had. Lost in Play is about what you can guess based on the title: two siblings being lost in one of their play sessions.
The game starts with a quick dream sequence, a look into the young girl’s dream which also gives us how whimsical the adventure will be, before it’s time to wake up for the day. She ends up waking up first, mainly due to the sun shining right in her face, and proceeds to wake up her brother (which is actually the first puzzle screen in the real world).
These two siblings, while we don’t get their names in-game, are Toto and Gal. Today seems like it’ll be another boring day where they have nothing they really need to do. Toto is what you’d expect, a broody boy playing his video game and trying to not let his sister mess up his gaming streak. Well, after some puzzle solving to build a helmet to cosplay as a creature in one of their favorite comics, Gal gets her brother Toto to start playing with her outside. This turns into an adventure where innocently passing under a frog gate caused them to be transported to another world filled with weird, but familiar, creatures, magic, and goblins.
Despite the game taking place in their imagination, making things more whimsical than they would normally be, the puzzles here are easy to figure out. They have a line of logic to it despite the imaginary and fantastical setting they take place in. And even though there is no dialogue, the characters will have a little speech bubble with a picture of the needed item. Each area will have a handful of puzzles for you to figure out, which completing one will help you progress in another puzzle in the area. As the game goes on, these areas do become slightly bigger, with more puzzles to do and slightly being trickier.
There is a hint system in place so you can check if you’re a bit lost. While I didn’t have trouble most of the time, it does help if you just forgot where you needed to go with a certain item or the times where you are lost on what you have to do (which I only encountered twice).
Honestly, the difficulty really comes with the minigames. There are two kinds: puzzle minigames and just traditional minigames. The puzzle minigames will give you the first two to get the hang of it before throwing you two hard levels to finish off on. These can be pretty tricky, sometimes the hint will help but sometimes not so much. Though it helps you can easily look them up if you’re just done with being stuck. With the regular minigames, the only difficult ones are where you go up against an AI. An early example is where you play a game with checkers, but you have to corner your opponent (and you can only go forwards with your pieces). These really straddle the line of being frustrating, with only one being not so bad. While you can pick up what the AI will do when faced with certain moves, it has enough of a random factor that can totally ruin your day.
I did come to wish that there was an option to skip at least the minigames where you go against the AI if you’re stuck after a certain amount of tries. You have to hope that your moves and the AI’s will just click in place so you can finally continue.
Though, I was disappointed at one sequence towards the end of the game. Right before you get to the frog gate, you get a cutscene that shows a handful of different scenes where the siblings are going through different areas. These looked like it would have been interesting to actually play, especially since one scene looked like it was a puzzle sequence, and it stinks that we couldn’t (whether it’s because they were originally planned to be levels but had to be cut out or there weren’t any ideas for them to be fleshed out and fun to play through).
Aside from that, I loved the artwork here. It has a really nice and pleasing cartoon style and all the different areas are beautiful to look at. I did find the voices the characters had, so they’re just not moving their mouths without speaking anything, a tad annoying, but that was mainly when it was just the longer “talking” segments.
Also, while this does have controller as a recommended way of playing, I do suggest mouse and keyboard instead. It might have just been me, but I had a good amount of moments in minigames where I clicked the button on the wrong direction, which ruined that try. Plus, I had a habit from other games where it will automatically use the item needed if you already have it in your pack and I always had to remind myself that I had to select the item while by the interact point (whereas with a mouse you just have to click and drag the item over, which felt more natural if that makes sense).
Lost in Play made me so happy playing it. It really had me at the beginning with the brother being uninterested and broody, but I really loved how that they spent the whole day playing and imagining a whole world where they have to get back home. I especially love the credits where we get to see the real life counterparts of certain areas that seemed more out there. If you’re looking for a wholesome point and click adventure that takes place in two sibling’s imaginations where the majority of the puzzles are easy to figure out, Lost in Play won’t disappoint. Though, I do see a lot of people finding this game too short for the price (it was about 4-5 hours for me, and yes I used the hint system when I got stuck), and the minigames do lean towards being difficult (especially ones where you have an AI opponent).