by Amanda French
Elegy for a Dead World is… strange, to say the least. Developed in collaboration by Dejobaan Games (AaAaAA!!! – A Reckless Disregard for Gravity, The Wonderful End of the World) and Popcannibal (Girls Like Robots), the basic concept is to write. That’s it. There are no easter eggs, puzzles, or action. Just you and whatever ideas you can come up with. Ordinarily I’d think this is awesome, as I like to write novels, but usually what people consider to be a “game” contains some element of direct or in-direct reward for tasks completed. This is greatly lacking in Elegy, and it’s important potential buyers are aware of this. It’s all about self-fulfillment, not measurable achievement.
I’d call this an exploration game like Gone Home, but even the latter had some degree of obstacles to overcome. Elegy for a Dead World features three “worlds” to explore in a limited side-scrolling field. These worlds are beautifully illustrated by artist Luigi Guatieri, and are directly inspired by such great authors as Byron, Shelley, and Keats. You could go through the worlds with a number of different prompts to help you come up with a story, or you can go into “free-write” mode, but really, there isn’t much to interact with. Completing the worlds doesn’t even unlock anything, and the only Steam achievements are for getting 1,000 commendations (basically a thumbs up) for your stories. That’s damn hard for the following reasons:
When you’re done, you can share your work for others to read in-game, but you can’t export it as a PDF, or direct publish it to blogs or other sites. There isn’t even an external site where all the stories are collected. What frustrates me is that you cannot read anyone else’s writing until you go to the end of a world, and even then, you get one story at random. This is a major aspect of the game, and I wish the devs focused on it more. For a lot of people (not all) half the point of writing is for someone to read the work, and with this system, you’d be lucky if someone can even see your story at all!
There has been talk of planned updates by the devs on the Steam forums. This game was launched three months earlier than the devs originally had planned, but in my honest opinion, I think they should have spent that time beefing up their game. Right now, I don’t think it’s worth $14.99, despite the noble concept and gorgeous art. There’s just too many features lacking.
I cannot recommend Elegy for a Dead World. If you’re into writing, you may find it amusing, but it quickly loses its appeal after one complete “playthrough.” I do applaud Dejobaan and Popcannibal for trying to come up with something outside of the box, and let’s hope we can get more original ideas like this in the future. If anything, they have laid out the groundwork for something bigger and better further down the road.
[author image=” http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/amanda.jpg”]Amanda French first cut her gaming teeth by playing such classics as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Super Mario World at the ripe age of four. From there spawned a lifelong love of video games, particularly narrative heavy adventures and open world games. A creative writing graduate of Full Sail University, Amanda writes fiction novels in her spare time. You can find her work at the Independent Author Network under the pseudonym, Illise Montoya. Amanda’s all-time favorite games include Dragon Age: Origins, Fallout 2, and Tekken 5. She lives on the California coast with her husband and young baby son.[/author]