Dejobaan Games and Popcannibal have recently released Elegy for a Dead World, which is to mind the world's first 2D write-em-up. It is also a massive departure from the noisy brashness of Dejobaan's earlier games such as Drunken Robot Pornography. Quiet and understated, the only goal of this game is to inspire you to write. Does it work?
I drift through space as a lone be-jetpacked adventurer, with the choice of entering three portals to the titular dead worlds. These worlds are named after a trio of literary heavyweights (Byron, Shelley and Keats) and each portal has a selection of nine writing prompts. These prompts vary in tone and content, with grammar exercises for students, poetry or long-form writing exercises available.
Upon entering a portal, my wanderer explores the ruins of a civilisation lost. I can walk or jetpack around, and gaze in wonder at the beautifully illustrated world that I have landed on. At various points I find quills that allow me to open my fancy future-device and begin to write. I have the choice of following the prompts given, filling in blanks making a rhyming couplet for example, or I can just delete everything and go with my own flow. Finishing a piece of work gives me the option to publish to Steamworks, where people can commend me (or not) on the finished article. I can also read and commend the works of other users, while listening to the most soothing ambient soundtrack of 2014.
I have to say that I'm looking forward to using Elegy as a tool to help develop my writing. For too long I've used any excuse under the sun to not write, and after two hours with this game I've producede more original content than in the last two years. I really like games that teach me how to do something (I owned a guitar for 15 years before I finally learned to play by using Rocksmith) and Elegy for a Dead World has just the right mix of hand-holding and freedom to get you started on the path to writing.
That's all there is too it. Elegy is a wonderfully simple but meticulously designed tool to help people feel more comfortable with writing. Dejobaan should be commended for making something that is educational, inspirational and fun at the same time.