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Elegy For A Dead World: Opinion Edition
What happens when you cross 2001: A Space Odyssey with 19th century British poets? Well. You get this game. In a market filled with videogames that know exactly where they want you to go and what they want you to do, Elegy For A Dead World is a refreshing departure that lets you craft your own stories and encourages you to use your imagination.
From Dejobaan Games, the makers of titles such as Monster Loves You! and Drunken Robot Pornography, their newest title takes a much different approach and encourages the player develop a narrative of their very own.
Though initially this was going to be a clear cut review, the game felt much more like a personal experience and whatever the review would have contained would be purely subjective and unique to only myself. Realising this I thought it best to write about the game not as a review but as a telling of one writer’s personal experience.
Your first sight will be that of an unknown person in a spacesuit floating in space with nothing around you. After figuring out you can move around you will discover this space is a merely a hub for three portals to three worlds; Byron’s world, Shelley’s world and Keat’s world. All being named of course after famous British poets Percy Shelley, Lord George Byron and John Keats.
After choosing which world to explore you will begin your exploration.
I initially chose Byron’s world and was greeted to a desert wasteland with ruins that resembled the huts on Tatooine. Before searching for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru I was given a feather underneath my mysterious space-person and was prompted with the line:
“They say everything comes to an end. Here in the sand, their first colony. _____________”
The blank space I assumed was for me to write the name of the colony. I humbly typed ‘Colony A’
But that is not what it asked of me, the sentence did not demand the fictional name of the settlement, that is just the conclusion my unimagined mind came to. I therefore went back and expanded upon Colony A. Once I realised the game didn’t demand you type cut and paste words but allowed whole sentences, my imagination exploded and I began to conjure up a civilisation built of knowledge and wisdom with the tragic clichéd downfall of knowing too much for their own good.
The next feather gave me the text:
“Settlers of Byron’s world formed their settlement far below ground initially because __________”
This feather aneeded an answer from me, it demanded I fill in the blanks though it really didn’t need to, at this stage my mind was already overflowing with ideas and my fingers took to the keys like a smoker takes to cigarettes; impatiently.
From there on I followed each and every feather prompt to improve upon my story and shape the world around me as I knew it. The artistic design that has gone into the game is so beautiful it cannot help but make you feel motivated to write poetically to match the beauty of the world itself.
I explored the world which transitioned from one screen to another and eventually developed my story into one where the civilisations knowledge brought them tragedy and one where generations of those settlers incorporated religious and technological advancements before finally succumbing to the poetic irony of nature’s wrath.
After finishing your story in a world you are prompted to give it a title, edit what you wrote if you so desire and makes you feel much like the author of this otherworldly tale. But you are not the only one who can read this.
What is interesting is the ability to read someone else’s work in relation to these worlds. There may only be three to explore but the amount of stories that have come from the game is astounding. It was fascinating just how different they were. While in my role I took on the role of a story-teller, a documenter, this other person had decided to write what he observed and took on the role of a reporter, detailing what he could see instead of forming a story. Another took on the role of a one man explorer searching for something and gave his helmet-head persona more character than the world he was in. It made me feel as if the story was not as important as how you go about making it and being quite community driven I felt pleasure in being part of a community, being fascinated by others’ writing and hopefully somebody being interested by mine.
Elegy For A Dead World was an intriguing experience from start to finish but felt more like a social experiment or a love letter to great British poets than a videogame. The gameplay consists of moving left or right and typing and there is really no reason to play each world more than once.
All in all, I am glad for the experience and find the game a wonderful sorbet between gaming meals.