One part immersive side scroller, one part writing prompt. This is the premise behind the game Elegy for a Dead World, by Dejobaan Games and Popcannibal. According to the Elegy website, “In Elegy for a Dead World, you travel to distant planets and create stories about the people who once lived there.”
In the game, you are one of a team of explorers set out to explore three portals that lead to different lost worlds, but an accident causes your team to perish, leaving you as the last one standing. You do not stray from your mission, though. You must press on and survey these lost lands and past civilizations, and make notes of your findings. The notes you write, and this is what makes this game particularly compelling, can be in the form of stories, poems, and even songs.
The three worlds of Elegy are based around the works of three poets of the British Romantic Era: Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Darkness by Lord Byron, and When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be by John Keats. Each world has its own mood, atmosphere and emotions that it evokes. As you progress through the world and take in the scenery around you, you will encounter writing prompts where you will have to write about anything from the scenery around you, to writing a poem about a young girl’s last days, a short story about a politician’s final address, or a song about discovering long-dead worlds. As you progress to the more advanced levels, you will begin to receive information and clues halfway through your story that shine new light on situations and force you to take the story you’ve written in a new direction. From the Elegy website, “We like to think of those as puzzles — writing yourself out of a corner, so to speak.”
Once you’ve gone through these worlds and you have your stories and poems written, you are given the option to share your writings with other players through Steam Workshop, or even more interesting, have your story reproduced in digital or print media. This is a fascinating aspect of the game where you have the option of joining what is essentially a writing community to share and compare stories with people from around the world. It is 100% optional, and you are under no obligation to join, but if you’re compelled to show your work to others, this is a great opportunity to meet other aspiring writers and players of the game to share in the atmosphere and the excitement of the game and the opportunities for creativity it is offering.
Elegy for a Dead World offers a unique gaming experience, much different from what most of us are used to, with beautiful artwork for scenery and a soundtrack to match. This is not a game for everyone, though, as the gameplay is very limited. It’s a side-scroller with no options for combat or interaction with non-playable characters. You make your way through the worlds and interact with the scenery around you and the writing prompts. But if you’re up for a unique and exciting challenge that allows you to write like you’ve never written before (and for some people, to write for the very first time), by all means, check out this game. It’s available on Steam for $14.99, and available for Windows, Mac and Linux.