PC, Nintendo Switch
August 10, 2022
Happy Juice Games
There’s nothing quite as powerful as a child’s imagination. Lost in Play is an adventure game that takes the creativity and energy of playtime and peppers it with all the charm of a polished animated cartoon. With visuals inspired by shows like Gravity Falls, a colourful cast of wacky characters, and puzzling point-and-click gameplay, this is a title that aims to captivate young gamers and bring wholesome, nostalgic joy to their parents.
Lost in Play has you controlling the creative sibling duo Toto and Gal as they entertain themselves with imagination and play. Their innocent games take a wild turn, however, when they tumble through a portal into a world of magic and mystery and must find their way back home before the portal closes. It’s a simple, charming story with enough wacky twists to keep younger gamers engaged. There’s barely any text either, allowing the stunningly animated visuals to take centre-stage and communicate every story beat. Characters grunt, gesture, and speak in images and icons. This heavy emphasis on visual language makes Lost in Play feel like a playable Cartoon Network show.
You control one sibling at a time depending on the scenario, and though they have identical skillsets their differing personalities shine through. One is a playful, maniacal little gremlin while the other is her long-suffering yet adoring older brother. Gameplay follows the standard point-and-click adventure game format: you’ll be exploring environments, collecting items, and using those items in creative ways to solve puzzles and grant access to new areas. The item-based puzzles make for some wonderfully absurd storytelling, cheeky humour, and satisfying resolutions. You might need to convince a musician to switch their acoustic set for heavy metal to win over a sheep’s affections, or find a firefly to read some invisible ink in a book that gives instructions on how to enter a giant fish. There are some delightfully ridiculous sequences that’ll leave you grinning.
Lost in Play also features a few mini-games to shake up the adventure gameplay. These are usually logic-based puzzles with unique rules, such as a checkers board where you need to force the opponent into a corner or a pathfinding puzzle that involves avoiding a bear. This is where the game’s hands-off hint system starts to hit its limits. Throughout the adventure sequences, you’ll have access to little visual prompts that give you just enough information to point you in the right direction. However, most mini-game hints are either far too obscure or simply tell you the solution. While I welcomed the change in pace, there were too many instances where these mini-games became exercises in trial-and-error, and I felt like I finished them with patience more often than with logic.
Despite a few frustrating roadblocks I enjoyed my travels through the world of Lost in Play. It kept the kid in me engaged for a leisurely four hours or so, though younger gamers may need to play with a grown-up on standby to help with some of the trickier, less intuitive mini-game puzzles. Playing through Lost in Play’s wholesomely fantastical scenarios and delighting in its creative puzzle solutions make this a lovely way to spend a few cold winter evenings.
- Delightfully familiar visual style and animation
- Whimsical, well-paced adventure gameplay
- Mostly intuitive and satisfying puzzle design
- Some "minigame" puzzles form frustrating roadblocks
- Obtuse hint system, particularly for younger gamers
A short, sweet romp through a world of dreams, Lost in Play is a joyful celebration of imagination and play. Its gorgeously familiar cartoonish visuals and focus on endearingly absurd scenarios win over the frostiest of hearts. While some of its trickier puzzles may leave younger gamers stumped and even frustrate their parents, it’s impossible not to grin at the wacky antics Lost in Play loves to throw at you. Recommended as a little cosy treat for the young at heart.