In Search of the Lost Words (1996) is an enchanting educational game geared toward building reading and comprehension skills in older children. The graphics are charming, and the gameplay quickly becomes immersive, drawing the player into a simple but interesting storyline.
A magical egg was used in ancient days by an evil king, with the help of an equally evil (of course, how could he be otherwise?) sorcerer, to conquer whole countries and enslave their peoples. But then the king died, and the sorcerer sealed his body in a temple on a distant island, while the egg was lost to history.
The game starts when the egg hatches into a tiny blue creature with a little red antenna atop his head. Now he has to make his way through a series of rooms, buildings and outdoor environments until he reaches the far island where he can break the spell that would bring the evil king back to life, to enslave the world once again.
The interface is intuitive and easy to use; a simple point and click selects and names objects, some of which are highlighted for later use in a sidebar. Each object when clicked will reward you with a cute animation, and some are gateways to minigames, mostly memory and match-up challenges, all the way through the main action that give you extra adverbs and adjectives that come in useful later. At the end of each stage, there is a section of the story of the egg, and by extension the creature, that has gaps in it that you must fill with the “lost words” of the title.
Once you’ve found every word (and some of them are not obvious at all, like clicking on a large vase only to have it called a parrot because that’s what was hiding in it) you can proceed to the next phase of your journey.
My only gripe with the game is that at times it became something of a hidden object exercise, with one or two words almost impossible to find, taking search theory to an extreme. But once you get over the frustration and manage to win, you forgive having to find “courage” in a tree trunk and admit that it was an adorable title that’s worth a play-through at least once, just for curiosity’s sake.
Not the most exciting or intricate game I’ve ever played in its genre, but it has charm and thought behind it, so I’ll give it a well deserved 3.
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