I know I’ve said this a million times in the past but a game doesn’t need to be complicated to be fun. In the same breath, a game can be educational, and still be an enjoyable experience without a billion bells and whistles. I think we look too hard for gorgeous graphics and innovative gameplay that sometimes we completely miss the point. You’ve probably guessed that this little diatribe has something to do with today’s game and you’d be correct. I’ve been playing Poems & Codes on my PC device, and I don’t think this is going to be a very long review. Just like the simple nature of this game, it’s just not necessary.
Poems & Codes is a game with a really simple premise. All you need to do is solve a cryptic cipher and rebuild passages from various historic poems. It’s a basic substitution cipher so the rules are as simple as they get. All you need to do is work out which letter has been swapped for which other letter and make a sensible-sounding verse. Just to add clarity here; the rules are simple that doesn’t mean the game is. Some of the codes you’ll be presented with will definitely leave you scratching your head.
What’s not to love about a good cipher?
The real importance of Poems & Codes, (and Prose & Codes which looks at story-work,) is that it’s helping to preserve classic works of literature and prevent them from becoming lost to time. When you complete enough ciphers for a given poem you are able to add it to your list of completed works and read it as a complete entity. You will also be given some biographical information about the poet. This allows lovers of poetry to build a library of famous works that they can refer back to whenever they wish but also introduces people curious about the art to the poetic form of writing in a unique and fun way.
Plenty of subjects to choose from with poetry from a range of respected writers.
Very importantly Poems & Codes is helping to support Project Gutenberg, a free online library of over 70,000 works of literature. As I’ve mentioned, it’s not just the incredible importance of preserving written works for future generations, but the fact that there’s a repository for these pieces of art that can be accessed by anyone for free. It’s always great when the medium of gaming can serve a wider purpose and this is definitely good to see here.
So is it fun? Well, if you like word puzzles and reading, the answer is a resounding yes. You are invited to choose from a series of subjects covering life, death, war, and everything in between. Each subject has its own mini-library of poems within it and from there, the puzzling commences. The controls are simple, the puzzle is beautifully laid out and the music is relaxing. Other than the ciphers ranging from really straightforward to mind-meltingly difficult there isn’t a lot more to say.
You get to build your own library of poetry as you go.
This is the sort of thing that you aren’t likely to indulge in if you don’t like puzzles and aren’t a fan of the written word. This being said I don’t really see any reason not to like Poems & Codes. The only sticking point for some might be that several of these works are very old and, therefore, use language that matches the time in which they were written. This can make your task harder because you’re replacing words that are written in antiquated English. Although this might be deemed frustrating it really isn’t a deal breaker, it’s just a point of observation.
As a lover of the written word and someone who enjoys poetry Poems & Codes is right up my alley. If you’re of the same mind set I really think you’ll have a great time here. The fact that this game is supporting a really good cause is just adding to all the reasons why puzzle addicts should get involved. You get a library of poetry for free on your computer too, which is just an added bonus. Great stuff all around!
Poetry in Motion
Overall - 8/10
Poems & Codes is an absolute must for those of you who love the written word and enjoy a good puzzle to boot. I can’t really find much fault here other than a bit of archaic language which sort of comes as expected. If you want to decipher some perplexing codes and help a really good cause in the process you can’t go far wrong here.
Hailing from Southport England, Alex started his gaming career in the late 80s on a Commodore 64. Since that time he's either owned or played on virtually every console released. Alex happens to... Read more...