Lost Constellation, as a supplemental to the forthcoming Night in the Woods, did its job–and did it splendidly. I’m officially onboard for Infinite Ammo’s full-blown videogame, which, in their words, is “an adventure game heavily focused on story, characters and exploration, with some platforming to get around town.”
Lost Constellation is all that, but condensed and only slightly related. In short, it’s a ghost story, a bedtime tale, a journey within a journey. Mae’s grandfather is the narrator, weaving together the night-driven adventures of Adina, a young alligator astronomer, and her journey to find a star, keep a promise. As she travels through the cold, harsh woods, Adina will stumble upon a number of interesting–if mostly untrustworthy–characters, like a blue fox that wants to sell wanderers coffins, a cat that is not a wizard cat, just simply a cat, an old, weather-controlling witch, and ghosts of the once living. Oh, and snowmen, but Adina makes those herself, rather than runs directly into them; more on that later.
Gameplay is exploration-based, with Adina moving left or right, discovering items and characters to interact with. She can also pick up and carry snowballs, which are great for hitting things out of trees or summoning a guard via some rung bell. Expect plenty of dialogue to unfold, the majority of which is amusing and interestingly presented, and there is the occasional dialogue choice to make, though they never seemed like the sort of decisions that would change what might happen next. Merely a different way of asking the same thing. Maybe Night in the Woods will explore this deeper.
The soundtrack by Alec Holowka is strikingly soft and eerie. Beautiful and off-putting. Happy adjective and sad adjective. Perfect for a walk in a strange forest under starlight. I’m personally a big fan of “Tundra” so much that I left the game up in a part where it played while I did some household chores, letting it loop (this was before I knew the developers had a separate site for it). The whole soundtrack actually reminds me a lot of Mass Effect, Transistor (minus the jazzy drums), and Fire Emblem: Awakening, all snowballed into one very low-key, laconic, haunting concert.
One of the big focuses of Lost Constellation is collecting special items and constructing a snowperson out of them. Or around them, if you will. You end up making four or five across Adina’s time in the woods, and the game lets you take a screenshot of your finished work, saving it directly to your desktop, free of charge. I will now share with y’all my four snowpeople, in all their creative glory:
Overall, I’m pretty proud of my work. From what I’ve gathered based off screenshots and animated GIFs for Night in the Woods, it seems to be set in a modern city and during autumn, so this snowperson-crafting mechanic might not show up there. Perhaps we can help Mae create monsters from piles of leaves. Either way, I hope something like this is in there again, because, while not challenging at all, it made for a fun distraction and at least made the slight bits of backtracking rewarding. When I watched Giant Bomb play Lost Constellation last week, they found a dog collar for one of their snowmen; I did not, which makes me wonder if there is some randomizing happening under the hood.
Again, Lost Constellation is a side thing, a slice of maybe what’s to come for Night in the Woods. It has me intrigued over this world and the holiday called “Longest Night” and this astronomer Adina (though not-so-much about Mae). I don’t know everything, but I’m looking forward to learning more, and I have to wonder how much of what is in Lost Constellation will pop up elsewhere. Regardless, here’s hoping for a 2015 release. Or heck, even another pay-what-you-want supplemental. I just want more.