Gaming Editor Louis Wright reviews DELETE AFTER READING finding it to be a let-down despite some strong design elements

Gaming Editor | (Temp) Lead Developer | MA Film & Television Research & Production | BSc Computer Science | BurnFM Deputy Station Manager | Generally Epic
Published

DELETE AFTER READING was received for free for review purposes


Introduction

Text based games are a relic of a bygone era of the gaming landscape; a time before graphical interfaces had been developed. Traditionally, games of this calibur provided simple, interactable adventures, often limited by the scope of what was possible at the time. DELETE AFTER READING (2022) therefore is a return to this genre of game, with a modern flair added to its presentation. 


Gameplay

As with any text-based game, the gameplay of DELETE AFTER READING is minimalistic. It strips user interactions down to their most basic form, simply clicking on prompts that appear at various points on the screen. 

For the game’s progression and pacing this works excellently. Player’s are allowed to progress through the game at their own pace, a must with variations in reading speeds, and fully analyse the text that is being presented to them. This is necessary in the scope of the game, as the main presentation of challenges to the player are in the form of interactable puzzles.

The unrefined design of a lot of these puzzles make them feel arduous or frustrating to complete

These puzzles range through a wide variety of forms. Some appear within the text, necessitating the player to find specific keywords, colours, or icons within what they are reading. Others appear in the variety of still graphics that the game supplements its text with, requiring users to figure out and input codes, or locate items found at other points in the narrative.

For the most part these puzzles are creative and unique ensuring that a sense of repetitiveness is avoided. This praise only extends so far however, as the unrefined design of a lot of these puzzles make them feel arduous or frustrating to complete. Often they are not properly explained or presented to the player, clues are arbitrarily hidden throughout, or there is no consistency or reason in the solution.

The game’s puzzles quickly become grating for the player, being more of a hindrance to the continuation through the narrative than an immersive factor for it. 



Story

A text-based game, being effectively an interactable book, lives and dies by its narrative. If the story is unengaging or poorly written then there is little reason to stay with it as gameplay is minimal.

Therefore, DELETE AFTER READING suffers immensely for the fact that its narrative is barebones. There is little of substance to the story, thus not much that can be genuinely engaged with. Its plotline is underdeveloped, and poorly explained with many concepts coming in and out of focus messily.

There is little of substance to the story, thus not much that can be genuinely engaged with

This is compounded with the lacklustre writing style. By presenting a first person narrative of someone obviously intended to be school age, the language used falls into a more juvenile nature. However, while a stylised writing style can work such as in ‘A Clockwork Orange’, it is not taken advantage of here in any sense. Little regard is given to how characters speak, or any attempt made to differentiate them from one another. Descriptions are often plain, and come in at a rate that is difficult to digest.

Topped by the humour, which by way of being a meta narrative is heavily reliant on referential comedy, which often falls flat the writing and story of DELETE AFTER READING finds itself a slog. Certain elements are enjoyable, however they are too few and far between to save the game from itself.



Presentation

Text-based games are not renowned for their presentation in any regard. As the name implies they often appear as only text, leaving all of the visuals to the player’s imagination. DELETE AFTER READING, as a modern day interpretation of the bygone genre, puts its own spin on this formula by assisting its narrative with visual and auditory elements.

Its graphical elements have a distinct charm in their design, being simplistic but easily readable. This is important when designing the puzzle elements, but also for allowing an expansion of the player’s interpretation of these visuals. DELETE AFTER READING is still a text-based game, and as a part of that is reliant on the player interpreting its language. By simplifying these visual elements, the game retains an element of this by only providing the player a basis of conceptualisation.

The presentation finds itself as the strongest element of the game

A lot of the auditory elements the game uses work well in conjunction with this. Objects the player finds, such as a toy robot or message receiver, are used to provide the player with clues to the puzzles that are scattered about. This builds upon the concept of a text-based game in a creative and fitting fashion. Auditory elements are not overused and find themselves being purposeful. One element that holds them back however is the voice performances, which were often lacking in sound quality or delivery.

The presentation finds itself as the strongest element of the game. If the developers continue to make games of this style in the future, the presentation used is one aspect that should remain.



Rating

3/10

Conclusion

DELETE AFTER READING presents an interesting concept for a game. A modern day text-based game is something rarely seen and certainly has its place in the gaming landscape. By adding aspects to the games design that would have never been possible in the genre’s height, the game defines itself; however issues found within its puzzles and narrative prevent the game from reaching its fullest potential.


Trailer

DELETE AFTER READING is available on Steam, Android, and IOS


Specifications of system used for review:

CPU: Intel(R) Core(™) i7-10700K CPU @ 3.8GHz

Memory: 16GB

GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070


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