Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Now You're Playing With (Word) Power

Screenshot via Dejobaan Games
Text-based games have been a part of interactive entertainment since the first home computers. Ask most people what sort of game comes to mind when they hear "text based gaming" and most people will probably answer "interactive fiction" (which has undergone a bit of a renaissance in the bast few years thanks to the development and popularity of Twine). But developer of critical hits The Wonderful End of the World and AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! has a new entry into the field. Dejobaan Games' latest release, Elegy For A Dead World, makes writing an integral part of its game-play.

Elegy For A Dead World was successfully funded via Kickstarter in October, and its premise is pretty interesting. It is a text-driven adventure game about sifting through the remains of long-dead civilizations and chronicling what you find. You do this by wandering past sumptuously hand-drawn scenes and then giving your reaction via prompts-- sort of like filling in the blanks. The game then takes your writing and stitches it into a narrative which you can then share with others via Steam Workshop.

In "A Videogame That Teaches You to Write Poetry, Even if It Intimidates You" by Bryan Lufkin in Wired, the specific scenarios and how you complete them are intriguing:

Elegy lets players write prose and poetry as they explore distant planets and dead civilizations. The player faces 27 challenges in three worlds, each riffing on a specific British Romance-era poem: “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be” by John Keats, and “Darkness” by Lord Byron. The different challenges find the player in various roles: an emperor rallying his troops before a doomed battle, for example, or a schoolgirl evacuating a city being bombed. Players travel through beautifully designed backgrounds, while on-screen text narrates the story. But much of the text is left blank—that’s when players tap their inner Wordsworths, finishing the tale with their own imaginations.

Is it any good? I've enjoyed my time with it, and PC Magazine named Elegy For A Dead World as one of its 2014 Games of the Year. It's out now, and you can pick it up from the Steam Store here for PC, Mac and Linux.

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