Elegy for a Dead World is, perhaps, a writer’s paradise. Initially a Kickstarter title, Elegy focuses on the craft of writing and the exposition therein rather than explosions and guns. From developers Dejobaan Games and Popcannibal, this recently released Steam title seeks to explore the nature of writing.
The game takes place in space where you take on the role as the sole survivor an expeditionary team sent to explore recently opened portals to new worlds. These worlds are based on Romantic-era poets John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelly (Mary Shelly’s husband), and Lord Byron and their works. Their writing form the basis of the three unique worlds, each complete with their own environments and landscapes. For example, Shelly’s world is a large world full of an ancient civilization’s relics and buildings. Exploring these provide insight to what may have happened to the race, but it’s up to you to create that history and expand it as you see fit.
Each world has its own set of preset “adventures” where players fill in the gaps. These experiences boil down to a larger, interactive version of a MadLibs, but it’s so much more than just trying to make yourself laugh. The provided prompts challenge players to experiment and use their imagination to fill in the gaps, creating their own distinctive story each time. Players can also go back and edit these once they reach the end, updating the stories as necessary to fit the final version they’d like to see. There’s also an option to do a free write for each world, letting players create everything from the ground up.
Simple in its design, Elegy is built as a slower game, forcing players to stop and take note of the environment and the music. These are meant to be the helping hand in pushing players towards writing their next sentence with those background elements as inspiration. Once a section is complete, players have the option of editing their work, titling it, and then publishing it to the Steam Workshop where others are able to download and read them. It’s possible for players to give each other commendations for their writing, hopefully spurring them to create more. Reading through these finished works is like a slideshow where little snippets of the environment can be seen, helping to create a visual alongside the writing.
Elegy for a Dead World will not be for everyone, and that is understandable. Coming from my English-centric background, I found it fascinating and reminiscent of some of the workshops and classes I’ve taken over my education. Being able to take a prompt and run with it as I saw fit is an excellent mental challenge and I can easily see this game being useful in classroom situations. While it may not find a place in the big leagues, Elegy fits within a niche group that will certainly be diehard fans.Note: Elegy for a Dead World was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.