#25 Letters – A Written Adventure

#25 Letters – A Written Adventure

February 13, 2022 0 By Owly

Today’s promotion is Letters – A Written Adventure, created by Swiss indie studio 5am Games.

The studio is comprised of three women – Aleksandra Lakusheva, Martina Hotz, and Selina Capol. Back in 2015, Aleksandra began a small game prototype that played with the idea of removing letters from words to create new words. Those new words would then be used to change drawings within a text. Three years later, 5am Games was born and full-time work began on Letters – A Written Adventure, aided by a grant from the Swiss arts council no less. This was the first of several grants the game would receive – clearly a lot of people saw the potential in this title.

The goal behind 5am Games is to create innovative and authentic titles that the developers truly care about, with a focus on female protagonists and female players that have been “mostly ignored by the game industry so far”.

So let’s play!

Letters is a fun word puzzle game about friendship, growing up and finding your place in life. Follow Sarah, a shy girl from Switzerland, by moving through her pen pal letters and chat messages. Use the power of words to solve riddles, interact with her friends and decide who she will grow up to be.

The game takes place in Switzerland in 1997. Sarah, an eleven-year-old girl, is writing her first letter to Katya, her new pen pal from Russia. The two continue to stay in touch through their formative years and become close friends.

Within these letters, you take control of a miniature Sarah, physically traversing the lines on each page, solving word-based puzzles, and aiding illustrations in all manner of ways. You’ll have to make decisions for Sarah that can impact future letters and the overall story. This naturally gives the player power but also offers opportunities to play through the story again, in search of new findings and narrative threads.

Sarah is a tough cookie and most players will be able to relate to at least some of her struggles. The game kindly offers a warning early on that themes include family dysfunction, peer pressure, verbal abuse, and mental illness. There might even be mentions of prescription drug abuse, suicidal behaviour, and cults.

The game never felt particularly ‘heavy’ as such (maybe I’m too jaded), but it also doesn’t shy away from complex adult situations. The letters are compelling and I was engaged and invested throughout my almost two hour playthrough.

Even with the themes at hand, the game is a relaxing endeavour, with each riddle and character adding their own charm – you can even customize your miniature Sarah!

I played Letters – A Written Adventure on my MSI GF65 gaming laptop, which has an i7 and an RTX 3060. I had graphics on high with no issues. The game offers full controller support but I opted for using my keyboard. Directional arrows are used to move and jump, and the spacebar covers all other interactions. If at any point you get stuck, you can hold down ‘H’ to get a hint. Controls are easy and quick to get to grips with.

This game is a real treat. The premise and gameplay execution feels fresh, and the style and presentation of the story being told is beautifully done.

5am Games have stated they are focusing on making games for female players and that’s great. That can only be a good thing. I grew up with two sisters that were gamers. I have a female cousin that could have played Crash Bandicoot professionally, my aunty was addicted to Tetris, and even my Grandma could be found hiding upstairs most weekends, glued to her Nintendo DS. I’m sure they’d all love Letters – A Written Adventure. I certainly did, and I’m not necessarily the intended audience.

This game, the developers, and indie studios that continue to innovate and promote a healthy industry, all deserve our support. I can’t wait to see what 5am Games do next.

Letters – A Written Adventure is out now on PC, Mac, and Nintendo Switch
Here is the Steam page
PublisherPID Games
Website5am Games