And now for something completely different!
Elegy for a Dead World is an oddity to say the least and it’s also an older title as well, having released back in 2014. I had it on my Steam wishlist for some time, but after a closer look I decided to take the plunge… I’ll explain why.
Elegy isn’t really a game in the traditional sense. Sure there’s a modicum of interactivity but the true value of the game lies in the fact that you’re writing your story. No, not in the sense of an open-world game where “you write your story” by playing through the missions and making a choice or two. In Elegy, you actually write the story.
I’M GOING TO MAKE YOU READ THIS
The gameplay is relatively simple. You can move using the directional keys or WASD… That’s the basics. However, instead of you just fumbling around and playing through whatever the developer made, you write a story by filling in the blanks as you wander throughout the three worlds. Or you can write whatever you’d like, wherever you’d like in the Freeform Writing mode. Regardless of which mode you choose, or what template to use, the locations progress from left to right, like when reading.
That’s all the gameplay there is really. What you get out of the game is what you create. There are several writing prompt templates that offer different ways to structure your story while giving you a basic idea to work with. For a budding writer, it’s an invaluable tool that’s fun to play with.
Just don’t go in expecting action-packed sequences and gripping narrative… Unless of course you write some gripping narrative.
Elegy presents with a simplistic design and near non-existent UI. Places in each side-scrolling level are marked with a little quill that show where you can make entries and displayed in the bottom-right corner is a counter that shows how many areas are left for you to write in.
That said, it’s a pretty game. Not mind blowing by any stretch of the imagination, but pretty. The scenes look like paintings and do an admirable job of adding inspiration. Think of it like you’re writing a story that already has illustrations.
I’ll put it this way: I’ve never played a game like this before, and I’ve played quite a few games in my day. It’s refreshing to see a new idea come up in the gaming industry. It just so happens that this idea scratches that itch I’ve had for some time, to write some fiction. Granted, I’ll likely never get a full-fledged novel published. This at least gives me not only a little inspiration in the form of writing prompts, but does so in such a way that I’m not intimidated by the prospect of typing up a short little story.
STORY AND MULTIPLAYER
Again, Elegy doesn’t have what you’d call a story but it does have the uniqueness of providing the means for you to craft your own little tale. Like a swift kick in the ass to start writing, though with less ass kicking in the physical sense. I guess it’d be more of a nudge. An ass nudging? Moving on…
Elegy’s story is only what you make of the prompts, so considering that, you’re going to only get out of it what you put in. The nice thing about writing in Elegy is that it presents your story back to you in an elegantly simple manner. Upon completing a level, you’re provided with a few options to edit, publish, and scrap your work. Notice the option to publish. That’s where the game’s version of multiplayer comes in.
By publishing your story in Elegy, you post it on the game’s servers where others can read it and give what are called “Commendations”, which is basically the equivalent of upvoting it.
WILDCARD: A GAME ABOUT WRITING FICTION
Elegy for a Dead World isn’t going to be on most people’s play lists of games, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, for me, I’m extremely glad that I decided to jump in. I’ve been toying around with the idea of writing my own science fiction story for some time now, and maybe this will give me the motivation to continue writing it. Surprisingly, the title fits in with my idea fairly well, though I don’t want to give anything away (in case I do end up getting it published someday).
I guess the thing that sets Elegy apart is that it is a fantastic tool for gamers that want to write. The interactivity of a game mixed with the creativity of writing a story is surprisingly fun where most other writing prompt apps and books seem to fall flat for me.
Elegy for a Dead World is unique in a way that I haven’t experienced before and it took me completely by surprise, for many reasons. I can honestly say that the gamer-me from even just two years ago would’ve scoffed at a game like this as a waste of money, but today is a different story. Today I have the aspiration to be a writer. It was part of the reason I started this blog and I’m going to feed that hunger as often as I can.
So while Elegy may not be a game for everyone, it’s definitely a game for me. If you enjoy writing or want to start, especially science fiction, give this a shot. It’ll be worth your time and money.
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