It’s hard to classify what is a game and what isn’t. It’s an argument that many have started over the past few years, arguing that games like Heavy Rain or Dear Esther are interactive experiences that tell a specific story, rather than a true game. I don’t subscribe to that notion of thought, as I feel as though games like Heavy Rain do deserve to be classified as a game. After all, there are multiple resolutions and depending on your performance, characters either live or die on the decisions you did or didn’t make.
The Letter is not a game. The Letter is a cobbled together experience using pre-existing assets to tell a meandering story that doesn’t make much sense at all. It plays like Baby’s First Game and if you can make sense of what story is being told, you’re a better person than I. Go ahead, watch the video above as NintenDaan takes you through empty environments. Do you have any idea what’s supposed to be experienced here? I assume the creators wanted to capitalize on the survival horror type Slenderman games that have been released on PC, but this is so terrible I’m left wondering why Nintendo even felt it made a meaningful addition to the Nintendo eShop.
The short answer is that it doesn’t. Even though the game is only being sold for $2, it’s not worth that. This should have been chalked up as a first effort at creating something that the public might want to consume. As it is, it’s little more than a walking simulator with bland environments and a story that doesn’t make coherent sense. There’s absolutely no reason to engage with the game, beyond the fact that yes there are some items littered about and occasionally you might be able to manipulate one of them in the form of being able to pick it up.
Nintendo is somewhat prided on its long-standing quality control. Before the Wii, Nintendo had a reputation for policing its platform heavily due to the video game crash in the late 1980s. The Nintendo Seal of Approval was given to games that are certified by the company, as a promise to consumers that the game you’re seeing meets standards set by the company that single-handedly revived the video game industry.
With the introduction of the Wii and its massive popularity, Nintendo let any company with money and a development team produce games for its platform. It’s how we ended up with games like Story Time Fairy Tales and Calvin Tucker’s Redneck Jamboree filling shop shelves alongside great titles like Xenoblade Chronicles and Super Mario Galaxy. Those games should have had no place on the platform, but Nintendo liked to capitalize on its licensing agreements.
The Letter is the same situation, only now Nintendo is desperate to attract people to the Wii U platform. They relaxed the requirements for what is considered an indie developer so that people would be interested in bringing their games to the Wii U. In some cases it’s been a great boon to the system, as it’s given us games like Shovel Knight. On the other hand, we now have to put up with stinkers like The Letter, which can be beaten in less than 6 minutes an doesn’t provide any meaningful gameplay.
Nintendo needs to understand the difference between quality and quantity. You’d think they are experts at this by now, considering the quantity of terrible games in the late 1980s is what invariably led to consumers not investing their dollars in video games, leading the industry to crash. Nintendo should be more responsible than this.
As for the developers of The Letter, c’mon. In what world is what you’re offering worth $2? I get more enjoyment out of shoving a pack of gum in my mouth that I spent $2 on than attempting to figure out what you’ve cobbled together. Plenty of two man teams have created great games, but this just isn’t one of them. It’s an embarrassment for the developer, but most of all it’s an embarrassment for Nintendo.