Letters - a written adventure is a charming puzzle-platformer that has the player revisit Sarah's old letters and online "mysite" conversations from her childhood and teenage years in order to manipulate words to alter the events. Revisit old friendships, interact with the game's art and enjoy its coming of age story in an adorable, yet sometimes hard-hitting, story.
The concept behind Letters - a written adventure is similar to that of the Scribblenauts series where the player must us words to manipulate their surroundings. However, Letters is a much more story-focussed experienced with the surroundings telling a story as you interact directly with the dialogue. It's a clever system that shows the magic behind what video games can achieve.
Not every highlighted word is a means to solve a puzzle and yet, they can be used to interact with drawings and doodles. For example, a lighthouse drawn in one letter can be altered by either combining it with "Russia" or "Switzerland", which then changes the lighthouse's origins and provides a fun little quote alongside it. These details weren't required by 5AM Games but the extra mile that they've provided establishes a charming personality that is present throughout.
Letters's soundtrack is well implemented and adapts to key shifts within the game's tone. When you're treated to bad news, the music will adapt by matching what's happening on screen, including coming to a grinding halt in order to emphasise key dramatic moments. And this isn't exclusive to the music; the use of colours often highlights the mood of the character, allowing the game's art director to flex their creative muscles.
- Clever gameplay concept
- Extra personality details
- Complimenting music and colours
Some of the early tutorials can be a tad ambiguous. This is primarily the case with the word puzzles as the game failed to clearly explain that simply a part of a word can be used to solve a puzzle and one doesn't have to necessarily use a highlighted word in its entirety (e.g. using just "wing" from the word "drawing").
During the letter levels, the platforms are made up of lines on the notepad paper. It's clever but with most platformer games, you can fall through the platforms and yet in Letters, you have to fall through gaps. This can be frustrating when you need to bring a word from the top down to an object at the bottom, meaning that you have to weave in and out for far too long just to solve the puzzle.
This may be a nitpick but as a writer, I feel as though it is my duty to point out the grammatical issues that are sometimes a result of altering words. For example, there's a sentence that initially reads "the pens are great" and you need to remove the "s" from "pens" in order to use the word "pen". The issue then stems from the sentence not being altered to adapt to this change, so after the alteration, the sentence then read as "the pen are great", therefore the sentence should automatically alter to "the pen is great". Some (if not all) of you may be rolling your eyes at this but hey, it's a game about words.
- Occasionally ineffective tutorials
- Inability to fall through platforms
- Grammatical mistakes after altering words
Final Score: 9/10
I wrote this review with my partner, with English being her second language. We found that using and altering words in order to solve puzzles was an engaging and often beautiful way to study English; anyone who has studied languages in a formal educational setting can surely attest to how dull the process can be. If you, or someone you know, is trying to learn English, then depending on their skill level, Letters - a written adventure is a fantastic way to break up the monotony of flipping over one flash card after another.
Thank you for checking out our Letters - a written adventure Switch review, thank you to Plug In Digital for providing the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backers for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out)
- Bel Cubitt