Prose & Codes Review: Get Reading!

Think you're well read? Prose & Codes is a cryptic puzzle game for Steam that will test your problem-solving skills, while linking to a wealth of free, classic texts to get yourself learned. Intentional word choice.

Prose & Codes is for a niche audience – be it literature fans, wordsmiths, or those who like a good puzzle. If you aren’t much of a reader, and it would seem so many gamers aren’t, this might not be for you. However, if you could give it a chance and are the patient type, this might be the yin to your FPS yang.

There’s not much to discuss in terms of gameplay. It’s a cryptic puzzle game of filling in the blanks to a quote from some classic text. These range from Shakespeare to Twain, Kipling to Walliams. I’m being facetious. There’s a wealth of titles to explore, and irrespective of whether you’ve read them or not, the game offers a good challenge.

I wouldn’t recommend rushing through as your brain will turn to porridge – I speak from experience. The aim was to cover as much as possible for the review, but doing so spoiled the pleasure. Like speed reading. Sorry if you’re a speed reader. Taking one’s time unlocks a sequence of tranquillity, education and inspiration. While you won’t see my shoddy writing skills improving any time soon, I’ve already downloaded several books to devour – entirely motivated by Prose & Codes.

Prose and Codes Review - Inspire
Inspirational… Source: Screen capture

With 50 excerpts per genre, it can be a bit of a chore to go through one after the other. Initially, this was my battle plan, and though it allowed me to see the game (granted, it’s the same all the way through), it was best to take a step back and actually enjoy it. That means pondering the quotes, perhaps recalling them, or being meticulous enough in solving the puzzles with the missing letters.

Prose & Codes is effectively a refined version of Hangman without the crude drawings or deaths. There are three hints available per puzzle and a reset key if you go gung-ho and can’t get your bearings. Clicking a blank spot will highlight all other spaces that share that letter; find the correct letter, and it’ll automatically drop into those other spaces. There aren’t any indicators if you are right or wrong, only when you complete the stage will the end screen appear.

During the end screen, you can see a synopsis of the title, the excerpt solved, plus you can click on that link for a free copy of the book. It’s worth noting that the game and its developers, Hero Game Co., link to Project Gutenberg – a free library of over 60,000 books. They even donate a portion of sales to the project. It has nothing to do with WordPress or Police Academy’s Steve Guttenberg.

My process was often puzzle-solving, bookmarking the link and then downloading for both my Kindle and iPad. Yes, I’m a tart and have zero brand allegiance.

Prose and Codes Review - Horror
The horror of it all! Source: Screen capture

That is pretty much it: complete 50 odd puzzles per genre. But other than the enjoyable problem solving, the game inspires you to read – at least, it did for me. There are no other modes, just the genres, four difficulty settings and a few accessibility options such as enlarging text, vignettes, dark mode and volume adjusters. Prose & Codes isn’t a game about banging tunes and its voluptuous sound library, but the choice of music here is relaxing, so there is no need to mute anything.

And just to break up the monotony of the paragraphs, here’s a list of the genres in the game:

  • Adventure
  • Children
  • Sci-fi
  • Drama
  • Notable
  • Mystery
  • Horror

It’s quite alarming at the number of quotes and texts I recognised but have never read the original books. Don Quixote is one I’ll no doubt retry, but there’s a wealth of options here, and the puzzle element of Proses & Codes will kickstart that thirst to be well-read. Again, a bit of a niche for a puzzle game, but excellent nonetheless. Also, I hasten to add that in-between when I wrote and subsequently posted this review, my eldest daughter got a glimpse of me playing and perhaps been more interested in Prose & Codes than any other review title I’ve put in front of her. As a father and <ahem> teacher, I was thrilled to see how good she is, and her knowledge of classic literature. Outsmarted by my children, once again. Just thought I’d share that. Ta x