#24 Prose and Codes
I was really tempted to publish this promotion as a cipher that readers would have to decode. This is what Prose and Codes has done to me. This is my life now. I have already started doing it with text messages and it is driving people up the wall.
Prose and Codes has been developed and published by Hero Game Co, who are a husband and wife (and corgi) indie team, based in Tennessee, USA.
Explore the wonderful world of books through deceptively simple ciphers. Every purchase benefits Project Gutenberg, an online library of over 60,000 free ebooks.
The challenge is simple. You have to decode 350 hand-selected excerpts from literary classics both well-known and obscure, spanning seven beloved genres – adventure, children, sci-fi, drama, notable, mystery, and horror.
Each genre has fifty ciphers within. There are difficulty settings, which you can adjust at any time, but by default the game pokes your skills progressively. There is also a dark mode and options to enlarge cipher text, for those that need it.
I’m the sort of player/person that had to finish collections in order and in full before starting the next one. Some of the later levels in each batch took some time to work out. I’ve clocked over ten hours in this game so far. I had to let certain ciphers roll around in the noggin’ for a while. I’d need to leave the game and come back to it with fresh eyes – we all know that sometimes words start to look strange if you stare at them for too long.
Well worth noting that you can quit at any time and all progress will be saved. However, unresolved ciphers will be reset, so don’t quit half way through one.
Sometimes I’d play so well that I began to think Alan Turing would be impressed. On the odd occasion I did get stuck, there are three hints you can use per cipher. By selecting a hint, one letter will be solved and these are chosen at random.
Once you break into the last ten or so ciphers of a genre, the hints become a lifeline, especially when you are presented with a blank page…
As far as gameplay goes, I can’t say much more. The game is beautifully presented in simple but confident fashion, with a loitering and soporific piano score, and splashes of colour when appropriate. It is a relaxing and satisfying adventure through works of art our species can be profoundly proud of. This game not only surfaced long-forgotten personal memories, primarily from a childhood spent devouring books, but also, as an author myself, it made me fall in love with language all over again.
Prose and Codes could have left it at that, but there is even more to this game.
Project Gutenberg is an online library of free ebooks. Michael Hart, the founder of Project Gutenberg, invented ebooks in 1971 and became the first provider of free electronic books in the world. Their impressive and ever-growing library boasts more than 60,000 free titles. It is a project that relies heavily on the thousands of volunteers that digitalize and diligently proofread each book, with an average of 50 books added every week.
The aim is to allow as many people as possible access to the joy of literature. As stated, the ebooks are all free and there are no registration fees or special apps needed.
Prose and Codes is in support of Project Gutenberg. Once you have completed a cipher, you can revisit it in the ‘Read’ section, that you will find to the right of the screen when selecting between the different genres.
It is here that you can see the excerpt once more, as well as having access to the synopsis for the book it has been lovingly plucked from. There is also a third box titled ‘Entire Story’. By clicking on this, you are taken to the Project Gutenberg website where you can download said book quick as a flash. Amazing.
I love puzzles. I have sudoku on my phone and a crossword book by my bed. I love escape rooms and problem solving. For me, Prose and Codes is a real gem and the fact that the game has teamed up with Project Gutenberg to inspire more people to enjoy literary classics for free, is something beautiful. The game is a delight and a portion of all profits will be donated to Project Gutenberg.
It is games like this that make me proud to be a gamer.
I really hope Prose and Codes gets the audience and support it deserves. This was a joy to play.