Review

Elegy for a Dead World Review

  • First Released Dec 10, 2014
    released
  • PC

Requiem for a dream.

GameSpot may get a commission from retail offers.

"What is Elegy for a Dead World?" you might ask, though the answer is as ephemeral as understanding particle/wave duality, or describing love to one who has never felt it. It is an interactive writing tool and an exploration game that provides no answers and expects you to supply them. It is a complex game of Mad Libs in which you enter some, many, or all words to the story you wish to tell about the otherworldly panoramas before you. And, if you like to write but frequently find yourself at a loss for words, it is a muse, poking and prompting you to put your fingers against the keyboard and let your voice be heard.

You may think of a muse as an ethereal goddess who blesses you with magical inspiration, but as any creator knows, this is not the muse's modus operandi. Says Stephen King in On Writing, "You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you." Elegy for a Dead World is your cigar-smoking fairy. It invites you into one of three landscapes, which you access via a central screen that shows you hovering in front of a rotating nebula of purple and pink. "You," in this case, is a helmeted astronaut of indeterminate age and indeterminate gender. This wanderer of the cosmos may indeed represent you, or may instead represent someone or something else, entirely a product of your imagination. The figure's anonymity is vital to Elegy for a Dead World's success, for the stories you create allow you to assign it any role you wish.

No Caption Provided

And so you seek your muse in one of those worlds, which you walk or float across in two dimensions. One world is characterized by its red and orange skies, temples lit by glowing candles, and structures that frame the nighttime moon, which dominates the heavens. In the next, the remnants of past labor prevail. You pass by hovels and machines as you move forward, and suddenly another edifice looms large--a university, or perhaps a courthouse. The remaining world is blessed by life; upon entering, a cyclopic gazelle grazes in front of a colossal sculpture depicting three giants bearing the burden of an entire planet upon their shoulders. You may wonder what secrets this trio of kingdoms might harbor, but it is not for the game to supply them.

No--illuminating secrets is your role. Elegy for a Dead World provides you a structure, and then sits back and waits, smoking cigars while you do the work. Before entering a world, you choose the framework for your story. A framework called Letter to a Loved One suggests you tell your beloved why he or she would love this particular place, for instance, and begins with the line, "You'd like it here; _____. There are worse places that _____." As you press on, you encounter prompts that require more input, and eventually, a tale forms. You aren't confined to elaborating on pre-written blurbs; you may delete those words and take your own journey, and each world offers a freeform option that allows you to write wherever you like. But the frameworks represent the muse's creative injections, and there are enough of them to suit writers of all skill levels, if not necessarily all interests.

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

The boundaries on subject matter are inherent to the game. These are science-fiction worlds, and while you could ostensibly use them to tell all kinds of stories, Elegy for a Dead World's imagery naturally limits you. In most ways, the limitations are a function of its design: writers, like other artists, often flourish when confined; limits are defined by genre, medium, occasion, and commission, and allow the artist to get deep and specific rather than broad and general. But Elegy's vital limitations lurk within its predetermined frameworks, and needn't have manifested in its relatively small, similarly themed worlds. You can write what you wish, but should you want your story to consistently reflect the landscape, you must accept what the muse provides. He's fickle that way.

Don't presume, however, that Elegy for a Dead World doesn't provide ample creative freedom. I have used a library as a backdrop for a miniature autobiography, which proved an effective exercise in brevity, a quality for which I'm not known. In another world, I used prearranged stanzas to craft a raunchy poem I can't print here. You can name and publish these stories, which appear with still images that match the environments that inspired them, as well as browse other players' creations. You would suppose most popular stories would reflect the somberness of the game's visuals, but players' stories often begin with such hysterical lines as "There are TBone steaks in the sky" and "When I have fears that cannot be soothed, I reach for an ice cold Coors Light." It seems some imaginative souls refuse to be restricted after all.

No Caption Provided

Appropriately enough, Elegy for a Dead World's potential impact lies as much within you as it does within the game. I imagine many people might download, play, and scoff, wholly alienated by a creation tool that expects so much and provides so little. And there are times when I open the game only to stare at it for a few moments, become blinded by my own lack of artistic vision, and then shut it down in favor of entertainment that expects less of me. Yet there's nothing like Elegy for a Dead World, a muse in the guise of a narrative creation tool in the guise of a video game, and it’s within those layers that you find the treasures.

Back To Top
The Good
Gorgeous, cryptic visuals
Provides an imaginative structure for writing poetry and prose
Lots of interesting, player-created fiction to peruse
The Bad
Limited theme, limited scope
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd spent about eight hours with Elegy for a Dead World, writing and reading stories until his creative well went dry and was filled again.
30 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for Pyrosa
Pyrosa

7312

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 44

User Lists: 0

I applaud their creativity -- and the guts to release something so esoteric in this era.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for hitomo
hitomo

806

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 0

@Pyrosa its not esoteric, its spiritual ...

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@Baelath @grenadehh

Isn't Wasteland 2 already out? :/

http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/wasteland-2-review/1900-6415881/

Upvote • 
Avatar image for xantufrog
xantufrog

11824

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 2

User Lists: 5

xantufrog  Moderator

This is pretty wild. Reminds me of some old PC games of yore. Nice to see funky game ideas still being developed

Upvote • 
Avatar image for hitomo
hitomo

806

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 5

User Lists: 0

oh god, oh god /watch?v=PGzXxlRj8Cg ... what the heck is this ? is it the 90s again? cant be, they where cool ...


okay, lets see how many people played Ryse and then this and will rate this higher for Story and Graphics ... None !


pc gaming is dead, nobody wants to pay revieewers anymore for pc games ....

Upvote • 
Avatar image for thorn3000
thorn3000

326

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 262

User Lists: 0

@hitomo dude ryse was pretty crap

Upvote • 
Avatar image for grenadehh
Grenadehh

40

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 31

User Lists: 6

Edited By Grenadehh

Justice as always from k vo. Not to bogart but why is the PC news section empty? Both hatred articles missing, steam article missing, no Eltie Dangerous prereview, no Wasteland 2 review.... No "steam sale starts soon" , no "MGS5 demo is out today".

3 • 
Avatar image for gamefreak215jd
gamefreak215jd

361

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 23

User Lists: 0

@grenadehh *Elite Dangerous.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@grenadehh

This site lost its appeal for the "master race" since Jeff Gerstmann became editor-in-chief years back, dude. :\

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Baelath
Baelath

158

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 3

User Lists: 0

We have a review for this, but still no review for Wasteland 2?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for g_vakarian
G_Vakarian

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat

What have I ever done to you?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@g_vakarian

Don't ask what others have done. Ask yourself what you have done.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for g_vakarian
G_Vakarian

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat

Wasted time with fools?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@g_vakarian

Emphasis on "wasted time".

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@g_vakarian

Heck knows how many self-righteous egotists have said what you said.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@g_vakarian

When whatever you post can be seen publicly, don't be complaining about stalkers.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for g_vakarian
G_Vakarian

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat

Thankfully the internet provides some anonymity then.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@g_vakarian

Then why even bother making a "stalker" remark if you are so confident in the anonymity? :\

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@phbz

https://www.google.com.my/#q=site:www.gamespot.com+%22guardianofhonor%22

Here, just look at some of the results; search for the bloke's username.

As for how he went away, I couldn't care less.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for g_vakarian
G_Vakarian

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

Edited By G_Vakarian

@Gelugon_baat

So it seems I have picked up a Stalker, great. I think my previous comment about aging hipsters overrating garbage "indie" games covers this one as well, no need to repeat it.

2 • 
Avatar image for Renoo27
Renoo27

569

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 15

User Lists: 0

Edited By Renoo27

@g_vakarian @Gelugon_baat "Aging hipsters overrating garbage "indie" games"

I'd love to see the research you've done that shows this "fact".

And wow @Gelugon_baat . I never thought someone could exist who's as stubborn as you, but I think you've met your match.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

I remember Stephen King's On Writing book more for his anecdotes. It's hardly a guide (though he did point this out very early on in the book).

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

I wonder if g_vakarian is predictable enough to fire off another rant about "hippie-dippie" indies again here.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Kunakai
Kunakai

903

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat Attempting to adjust attitudes is all well and good but there's really no need to actively provoke, it gets a little weird! Let's all be friends :) (said the guy who tends to hate more people than he'd like).

Upvote • 
Avatar image for phbz
phbz

4743

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 54

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat You seem a little obsessed with that nut.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gamerno6666
Gamerno6666

6971

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@phbz @Gelugon_baat He is obsessed with most of the user in GS. He even follows them to other websites.

Upvote • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

@Gamerno6666

How would you know I follow them to other websites? XD

Upvote • 
Avatar image for g_vakarian
G_Vakarian

30

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 4

User Lists: 0

@phbz

I have that effect on people, the ones who are correct but in the minority often get called "nuts"

2 • 
Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

24162

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 556

User Lists: 4

Edited By Gelugon_baat

@phbz

Oh, shush. :P

I am trying to make him go the way of guardianofhonor did. Remember that bloke?

Upvote • 
Avatar image for phbz
phbz

4743

Forum Posts

0

Wiki Points

0

Followers

Reviews: 54

User Lists: 0

@Gelugon_baat @phbz Have no idea. Did you lead him to commit suicide?

2 • 

Elegy for a Dead World More Info

Follow
  • First Released Dec 10, 2014
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    Three portals to long-dead civilizations await you. Your job is to explore these worlds, write about what you find, and share your stories with the rest of the universe.
    6
    Average Rating3 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Elegy for a Dead World
    Developed by:
    Popcannibal
    Published by:
    Dejobaan Games
    Genre(s):
    Adventure, Text-Based