Bite-sized Review:
Poems & Codes

Developer: Hero Game Co LLC

Release Date: 18 October, 2023

Platform: Windows, Linux, MacOS

Genre: Puzzle

By Chris Picone, 29 November 2023

I love a good cypher and I love a good poem, so Poems & Codes was an easy sell for me.  It didn't play out the way I thought it would - the code aspect played out more like a missing letters / hangman game than an actual code breaker, which I did find a little disappointing.  But I found it enjoyable nonetheless, as a relaxing time killer and a fantastic avenue into a well-curated world of poetry.  Possibly this game's best feature, if you aren't aware, is that 10% of all sales go to support Gutenberg Press (which is also where all poems have been sourced).


The artwork and fonts are nice enough and the UI friendly to use but for the most part it's all functional - cypher slots with matching letters highlight, making it very easy for the player to identify patterns but there's no variety in the backgrounds, for example. On the plus side, there are plenty of accessibility features.


I'm a relatively experienced code breaker so when I see the word "cypher" I get excited.  There are tons of different cyphers out there so I went into this game expecting a real challenge, but unfortunately there was no variety at all.  All codes follow a simple Caesar Shift (letters are modified by +/- x in the alphabet), which meant that all you had to do to break any code - even in the hardest difficulty setting - was identify the three letter and one letter words for and/the and I/a, and bingo half the puzzle's already solved.  So no real challenge but I did find it relaxing.  And the poems are very well curated, across a range of topics (love,  life, death, the usual suspects), and were a real pleasure to read and explore. The UI's super friendly too, so if you do find a particular poem you enjoy, the game seamlessly links you to the Gutenberg page where you can read more from the author.



Poems & Codes is fun as a casual puzzle game but where I found it lacking in the puzzle department, it really shines as an interesting and interactive way to discover some of the best poets and poems the world has to offer.