Barking Mouse Studio, Inc., took a risk when creating the 3D puzzler Lost Toys. "We believe that you can make a fun game at a decent price, one that respects gamers enough to employ subtlety and inventiveness over glitz and glamour," they seem to have said. Bold move, Barking Mouse, especially in a day and age when even the high and mightiest of gaming companies are moving towards the ADD-inspired, free-to-play model.
Lost Toys begins with no story prompt, no cutscenes, and no official tutorial. Once the game starts, you're playing; all gameplay elements and backstory have to be gleaned through your own experiences. In Lost Toys you'll be reconfiguring old, forgotten toys into their proper shapes by swiveling around various wrong-facing pieces until everything's where it's supposed to be. What starts off looking like a pile of junk might turn out to be a fire truck, helicopter, or a friendly, surprisingly un-creepy, clown. You'll do this within a somewhat dour, naturally-lit room, one that looks like it's been abandoned for decades. Between the melancholy art direction and the stirring, but often mournful, piano soundtrack, there's a definite air of sadness to Lost Toys, one that you're tasked with remedying by getting those toys back into their correct configurations.
The motion controls are finicky, but manageable, when trying to swivel and swap toy pieces. Sometimes you'll rotate the toy when you meant to move a single piece, other times the game will obstinately stare back at you, unyielding to your attempts to control it. Despite the controls being fairly intuitive, they're not always that responsive. However, there's no sort of time limit pressuring you to move quickly, so even when the controls don't do what you want them to do, it's not a big deal. On any given puzzle the only real limit is the number of moves you can take to complete it.
Lost Toys gives players an incredibly straightforward chain of progression through its many levels — complete one puzzle and you can move on to the next, more complex, task. That's it. If you're having trouble getting past a particularly fiendish bric-a-brac, there's a multi-tiered undo feature that lets you cancel some of your moves. The help system also shows you how to complete a puzzle one step at a time. If you need to, you can use it to solve a puzzle completely, or you can just dip your toe in it to get moving in the right direction. It's minimal and ingenious, just like the rest of Lost Toys.
The iOS platform may be crowded with puzzle games, but most of them lean towards the more arcade-style antics of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, which rely a bit more on luck and fast moves than they do cleverness. Lost Toys, on the other hand, is a thoughtful, melancholy, slow-paced bit of brilliance that won't bombard you with ads for other games or hidden costs. If you're on the go and looking to flex those mental muscles, and don't mind a game that's not all that flashy, look no further than this wonderful puzzler.