Lots of games purport to feel like playable cartoons, but I really do mean it when I say that Happy Juice Games' delightful point and click adventure Lost In Play feels like a playable cartoon. While the full game isn't due out until the summer, I can confirm that its 30-minute Steam Next Fest demo is an absolute joy from start to finish. If you're after a kid-friendly adventure in the vein of Röki but with an extra smidge of Professor Layton-style logic puzzles thrown in, this is the Next Fest demo for you.
You play as brother and sister Toto and Gal, whose vivid imaginations set the scene for some fantastical point and click puzzling. One minute you're roaming a field fetching teacups (and a strange, very blue liquid) for a bespeckled rabbit, a very large crowned frog and a toothy gnome; the next, you're tracking down pieces of a broken alarm clock to wake up your sleepy brother. Did I also mention you turn into a big bear monster at one point? It's super charming stuff, and all exquisitely animated to boot. See what I mean in the trailer below:
My favourite thing about Lost In Play is that it isn't all 'Try object A with object B' ad infinitum until you've found the right item combo. There is a bit of that in the demo, to be sure, but I also liked how certain solutions also prompted you to solve another, more traditional puzzle immediately afterwards. In fixing that aforementioned alarm clock, for example, you not only have to twist the little screws out with your screwdriver and rotate the battery the right way round, but you also have to solve a little sliding tile puzzle to make sure the gears all line up correctly. Shortly afterwards, you also need to wake your dog up with a bell, the sound of which makes your pooch dream of sheep bells. Cue another logic puzzle in which you flex your sheepdog muscles and herd the little critters into specific pens on a grid.
It reminded me a lot of the type of puzzles I used to enjoy in Professor Layton games, which is always a good thing in my book. They're not quite as abstract as Layton puzzles, either, making them feel more relevant to the task at hand. Mostly, though, I just love the look of it all, and the way the kids' imaginations feed into their everyday reality. I finished the demo with a big warm grin on my face last night, and I can't wait to play the rest of it.
Alas, we'll have to wait a little longer before we can truly get lost in Lost In Play, as the full game isn't due until sometime this summer. However, I'd strongly recommend giving its Steam Next Fest demo a go before it disappears on February 28th, which you can download straight from its Steam page.