Lost Constellation: Warm Storytelling

Craig Lupienski

Winter is the season to which I most strongly tie positive game memories. I grew up with a wood burning stove, snowy Decembers, and new games on Christmas. Plenty of time was spent indoors playing new treasures while the snow piled up outside. Lost Constellation offers no such respite from the frigid night. A lone house stands in the woods, but the little blue fox that lives there chastises me for letting in the cold. I borrow his wood burning stove, and then I’m on my way.

Lost Constellation is a compact game. There’s little game play to speak of, mostly just building snowmen and bringing the appropriate item to the right spot, but there’s just enough agency to compliment the dreamlike and ephemeral story. I don’t often enjoy games that strongly hinge on their stories, and even in games that don’t, I ignore the story anyway. It’s usually boring and badly written, and it gets in my way.

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I found myself completely engrossed in Lost Constellation though. None of the characters in the woods on the Longest Night speak like information kiosks. Their dialog is written for the character, and not you, the player. It’s a distinction that, while it shouldn’t, feels very out of place in games still and in an experience like Lost Constellation left me feeling a bit like I didn’t “get it,” but I think I prefer that than saving the world with wooden characters again.

Even the woods played into the linearity of storytelling, usually presenting the next relevant person or place as I walked to the right. If I had double-backed to the left, I would have been at the entrance to the woods again no matter what I had just passed. The little blue fox warned me the woods would confuse me. He was right. I was confused. I am used to linear storytelling clashing with the very nature of interactivity allowing me to rebel against that forward momentum, but Lost Constellation’s woods played with continuity to great effect. Interactivity only allowed for forward momentum. Anything else was forfeiting the story all together.

Little by little, I question my immobile negative outlook on storytelling in games. On occasion I find a story worth playing and I have to reassess how I feel. It’s hard to parse what it is I look for in an interactive story when I come by one I truly enjoy and appreciate so rarely. Maybe many roads lead there, but what Lost Constellation accomplishes with so little is exactly what I want to see more of. It’s a warm wood burning stove in an otherwise wintry wood.

3 Comments

  1. Great work as usual Craig. Your context matters series, and previous articles you did for the old site have always inspired me and drove my love of gaming. I was always interested in writing (not just about games, in general) and talking about games- but I never knew what kinds of things to write about when it came to gaming, other than reviews. The pieces and videos in which you discuss your memories, experiences, and share personal stories related to a game, system, or time in your life truly inspired me, and I wrote similar pieces for my own site.

    I had kind of stopped creating content when my fiance left me in 2013. No Youtube videos, no content for my blog, or anything. I know you experienced something similar, so in a way I’ve always related to you in that way, and seeing you revitalized and making all this awesome content again inspired me to take my love of writing about games seriously again. I registered my blog a real domain, and am putting together a small staff and writing pieces (reviews, and other things, specifically, sharing my memories, thoughts, and experiences with games and how they effected me at various times in my life). I don’t expect it to blow up or anything, I just love doing it, and those that enjoy the content I put out will hopefully keep me going, even if it is only one or two people.

    You know I’ve been a longtime fan of all your ventures, but I’ve never really talked much in depth about why I’m such a fan of yours, and to put it simply, I feel I relate to you, even though we’ve never met, but you share so many of my passions and views on gaming that you just inspired me to express myself as a content creator, and to not be afraid to put my real thoughts and feelings out there, to expose myself to my audience, no matter the size. I just thought I would share this with you now, and let you know that you do inspire people with your content, even if they don’t show it, or speak up about it.

    Keep up the awesome work.
    -Andrew Jackson.

  2. SilverMongoose

    Bought this game per your recommendation and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere. Can’t wait to play the actual game.

  3. Joe

    Never Alone is a story that is told through a game. It’s a great idea, well done. I hope to see more of that.

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