Lost in a damn good time
There’s a wonderful world inside the imaginations of children. Any inanimate object or event can be constructed into a fantastical journey. Therein lies the premise of Lost in Play, a magical point and click adventure following a sibling duo on an odyssey across deserts, forest, and any other crazy locales they can dream up. There are puzzles and mini games galore, plus an art style that fits the theme significantly. It’s a near perfect package that has a few missteps regarding its overall experience.
At its core, Lost In Play is a point and click adventure. The general tropes of finding items and combining them with the environment or solving obtuse puzzles with mini games apply here. The puzzles themselves are rarely difficult. The items found in the environment mostly stand out and since the maps remain small, it never takes long to suss out a solution. Despite it being easy to navigate, there are still some solutions that remain too obtuse or lack a direct logic. In an early puzzle, it requires you to move frog statues up and down but it can take a frustratingly long time to figure out the specific order, when the answer is not directly in the foreground. I never got stuck for too long but when a solution is hindering your progress it can feel like a lifetime.
Similarly, the same goes for some of the mini games. There are numerous clever minigames throughout the story that are inventive new ideas such as a 1v 4 checkers game against a goblin in a tree or a fun scene re-ordering game where you have to organize a timeline of events for a woman feeding ducks. These lead to some critical thinking and strategy that break up the puzzles and storytelling with an extra dose of charm. Unfortunately these hit the same pitfall as the main puzzles with some feeling more like hitting your head against a wall than clever strategy. There’s one event that has you moving along a board to escape a yeti and it plays like the Hitman Go/Lara Croft Go games but I found it frustrating overall. When those circumstances arose, I ended up accidentally finding the solution making them more of a chore than an event. These instances were the exceptions, not the rule, but it still ended up being a sore point for me.
The story of the brother and sister duo Toto and Gal is one of whimsy. A tale of reverie as their imaginations take the siblings to Mad Max style deserts, fantasy castle dungeons, floating islands and even in an underwater submarine. Combine these areas with a crazy cast of characters like frog kings, gambling goblins and tea parties with gnomes. The throughline is established that the children need to make it back home by nightfall or else be stuck in their dream world forever. It’s a cute vehicle for moving the plot forward filled with a fake language similar to simlish and tons of charm to spare.
The locations are always unexpected and unique which is such a blessing emphasized by the beautiful art style. Seeing this game in action really shows its fluid animation. If someone were playing this and you did not see a controller in their hand, you would think this was some new quirky cartoon movie. If this were a new animated series on a streaming service I’d be fully on board to watch, that’s how great it looks. The visuals are coupled with a great sense of humor that plays to both children and adult sensibilities. There’s a level of polish present that really stands out amongst other indie offerings.
While there were issues with puzzle design and difficulty, they were short lived as the game moves at a rather breezy pace, totalling around 5 hours, separated with each map taking roughly 30 minutes. The game would play well with all ages (though having a parent around would be most helpful for those trickier puzzles) but its presentation is what will keep families playing. It grabs and keeps your attention the entire time, making this game a joy to finish. It may lack a depth in its mechanics but makes up for its seamless animation and catchy musical score. It’s a fantastic freshman offering from indie dev Happy Juice Games and promises a bright future of things to come.