Over the past six months, I’ve been getting back into computer games through Steam, an online game platform. It’s pretty cool. It has thousands of different games to play, including many indie ones and ones that are just so outside the main stream that there’s no reason for almost anyone to buy it. One such game is Elegy for a Dead World. According to the description, “In Elegy, you’ll travel to three worlds and write stories about their long-dead societies. You’ll lose yourself in settings inspired by the works of poets Keats, Byron, and Shelley, and use the game’s system of writing prompts to help create your own masterpieces.”
As a writer and overall lover of the classics, I was instantly excited about this game. I love incorporating writing into video and computing games, and I’ve long wanted a game based on a poet (I’ve been joking about creating ones for Edgar Allan Poe and Shakespeare for years.). One of my favorite online games is a typing game that has you type excerpts from famous writers, most notably H.P. Lovecraft. As you increase in speed and accuracy, the words scroll by faster and are placed more dynamically around the screen, adding difficulty. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what the game is called and haven’t been able to find it for some time. I was hopeful that Elegy would be similar or would at least stimulate and engage me in similar ways.
Unfortunately, Elegy is the kind of game a 14-year-old girl with a LiveJournal account would enjoy – and I mean that in the least flattering way possible. The graphics are stunning with an arresting color palette and smooth game play, but there’s not actually any game play. There are three worlds to choose from and each world has multiple writing prompts. You choose one and then go into the world and walk or fly right. Whenever you chance upon a feather, you click Tab and get a prompt. Then you publish it. That’s it. You don’t fight anyone while writing. Your writing doesn’t influence the world in any way. You aren’t penalized if you miss a writing prompt. You aren’t competing with other players to create more dynamic pieces. The prompts don’t create new landscapes (So you’re in the exact same landscape for every prompt – it’s just a new prompt.). You write one story and you’ve pretty much “beaten” the game.
There was a time when I could have loved this game, but that time was 15 years ago when I didn’t know how to write, what to write, or where to find inspiration. That’s what I mean when I say Elegy would be good for a teenage girl with a LiveJournal. It would give her something to focus on and channel her writing urges. It would encourage her to publish her work for others to see. It would get her to practice writing and become better in the process. But for a late twenty-something with more than enough on her plate, it’s boring, time-consuming, and a bit juvenile. Pass.
* All images copyright Dejobaan.