Elegy for a Dead World

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Elegy for a Dead World Game Poster Image
Super creative storytelling game; some online safety issues.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can practice reading and creative writing in this imaginative science-fiction story-composition game. Players learn to create their own stories by working off templates that guide them from opening to closing lines. Templates may take the form of stories, poems, or songs with lots of blank spaces where kids can insert important narrative details. There are even grammar workshops where players rework the structure of existing sentences to make them read better. Once players gain some confidence, they can leave the templates behind and create their own stories from scratch, inventing characters and plots that fit the game's settings. Elegy for a Dead World is a great tool to help aspiring writers start creating sci-fi stories. 

Positive Messages

Strongly encourages creative thinking and writing. Positive themes, messages in stories are up to the player to provide.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Character behavior, both good and bad, is determined by the player writing the story. Users can determine how positive the characters are by the stories they write.

Ease of Play

Very easy. There's no winning or losing. Players simply move through a world and type out segments of a story as prompted.

Violence

No violence shown, but players see ruins and tombstones. They also read and tell stories about the deaths of individuals and entire species. The level of violence in these stories, graphic or otherwise, is left up to the player.

Sex

No sexual references in provided content, but users can insert it in their own stories and may encounter it in stories written by community members.

Language

No strong language in provided content, but users can insert it in their own stories and may encounter it in stories written by community members.  

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

No alcohol, drug, or tobacco use in provided content, but users can insert it in their own stories and may encounter it in stories written by community members.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Elegy for a Dead World is less a downloadable game and more a starting point for creative writing. Players are provided templates for stories (or a blank canvas) on a trio of empty worlds and are prompted to write their own tales to fit the setting. There's nothing particularly controversial in these templates, save concepts about the extinction or eradication of alien races. However, players are free to write any sort of story they like, which means they may write about violence, sexuality, and illicit substances that could include strong language. Keep in mind, also, that players can share their stories with the community and read other players' work. 

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What's it about?

Players get to devise and write their own tales in ELEGY FOR A DEAD WORLD, a freeform storytelling game. Players begin as an astronaut in space able to teleport to three worlds named after the poets John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley. All three planets are essentially barren but contain artifacts left by their previous inhabitants. As the astronaut makes his way across the side-scrolling landscape, it's up to the player to tell stories set on these planets. They can do so by following simple templates provided by the game's designers, which involves stopping at prompts to read sentences filled with blanks that need to be filled in. Or they can write their own stories from scratch, choosing when and where to write passages and what they want to say. Once a story is finished, it can be named, previewed, and published for the rest of the game's community to read. If a player likes a story she's read, she can click a button to commend it.

Is it any good?

Elegy for a Dead World may be billed and sold as a game, but it has no specific objectives or ways of winning and losing, so it's perhaps better labeled a source of inspiration or maybe a starting point for aspiring writers. The level of storytelling freedom is impressive. Even in templates, you have the liberty to go off-script and delete anything written by the game's designers, replacing it with words of your own. A story that might have grabbed your attention with its first few lines could transform into something completely different -- whatever the player fancies writing about.

It'd just be nice if there was a bit more of everything -- more worlds to explore, allowing for a broader variety of stories that would make sense within the visual context. More music options to help players set a proper mood for the reader. More community features so readers could do more than simply click a button to say whether they like a story and provide some constructive feedback to the writer. Still, it's lovely for what it is. Young sci-fi writers who want to start penning stories but lack ideas will find them here. And there's nothing stopping them from expanding their stories beyond the game.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about creative writing. What sorts of stories do you like to read? Did this game help you create the kinds of stories you enjoy? 

  • Families also can discuss privacy and online safety. Did you encounter any iffy stories written by others while playing Elegy for a Dead World? Do you think a game like this ought to let players report stories that may be inappropriate, or should players be afforded the freedom to write and share whatever they like?

Game details

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